What to wear when you have nowhere to go


AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Virginia Nielsen wears a mask while carrying shopping bags during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Being stuck at home, one might wonder if it even matters what they wear. Think again. 

While it’s perfectly acceptable to merely switch in and out of pajamas all day,  it’s also fun to switch things up every now and then. After all, we do have one more month of being stuck inside. 

Clothes serve more purposes than just covering and protecting our bodies. They are also a means for self-expression, even if that means expressing yourself to your mirror and your mirror only. 

Clothes tell people a lot about you without having to say much at all. If you’re walking around Lincoln Park and wearing a Harvard sweatshirt, for example, one might assume you go to DePaul. If you like wearing Dickies pants, tiny t-shirts, dad sneakers and a Carhartt beanie, one might also assume you go to DePaul. People judge people by what’s covering them — they just do. 

Besides that, clothes can be transformative for your mood. If it’s raining, for example, put on a colorful top as opposed to all black or grey like you might typically opt for. It sounds silly, but it prevents you from mimicking the dreariness going on outside. 

Dressing up can act as an antidote for boredom as well, which you might be experiencing right now because only boring people are bored. Below are some suggestions for what to wear when you have nothing to do and nowhere to go. These ideas might help you feel more like yourself, lift your spirits, beat boredom or at least make you smile.

Wear sweats

But not just any sweats — old sweats, sweatpants and sweatshirts that bring back memories. If you’re lucky enough to have not thrown away everything that doesn’t bring you joy per Marie Kondo’s recommendations, your closet might be littered with treasures like old camp sweatshirts, bar and bat mitzvah giveaways or middle school gym uniforms. Throw them on and feel the nostalgia rush through you.

Your mom or dad’s vintage 

If you’re quarantined with your parents, poke around their closet and see what you can find. Phoebe Kinzelman, 22, recently found her mom’s suede jacket and embroidered belt from the 70s. Kinzelman paired the look with wide-legged jeans and kept her hair long and flowing to compliment the vibe.

“I basically wanted to emulate Gloria Steinem,” Kinzelman said. 

Kinzelman was initially inspired after watching “Mrs. America” on Hulu with her mom.

“[The show] is about homemaker Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 70s,” Kinzelman said. “Gloria Steinem was one of the women fighting for the ERA along with Betty Friedan and Shirley Chisholm. Equal rights for women is something that’s really important to me and I wanted to dress up like [Gloria] because I’m so bored in quarantine.”

Dress up

There is something kind of glamorous about wearing a dress, skirt, or suit, putting on a great playlist and prancing around your apartment. 

Maybe there are pieces in your closet that you’ve been putting off wearing because you’re unsure of how to style them or have nowhere to wear them. Now is the perfect excuse to throw on something fabulous and pretend your life is a movie where the characters (you) “relax” in full looks. Plus, with nowhere to go, you don’t have to worry about accidentally getting a stain or rubbing shoulders with someone on the Red Line. 

The same rules apply for makeup. Sabrina Szos, 21, has been trying more extreme makeup looks since being in quarantine, both out of boredom and as a way to flex her creativity. 

“I never wore makeup because I felt like I needed to, I just did it because I love experimenting with different looks, which I normally don’t have time for,” Szos said. “It’s something I’ve always found calming to do. Coming up with looks that I think I look good in has definitely been a needed mood and confidence booster [during this time].”

Wear your skinniest jeans

This is torture, it really is. But something about being sucked into denim gives you a light-headedness that cheap red wine can’t match. Plus, if you’re feeling down, the uncomfortableness of the pants will surely distract you from your own thoughts, at least for the time being. 

Workout clothes

Whether you want to admit it or not, exercise is good for your mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins and serotonin, which is on short supply and high demand right now. 

One way to get your brain and body to at least start to flirt with the idea of working out is to put on workout clothes. 

Cole Schrand, 25, has been working out now more than ever with his newfound free time. 

“I definitely have not lost motivation to work out,” Schrand said. “During this time, my day-to-day uniform or work outfit has [shifted to just] athleisure.”

Because Schrand is now always in exercise clothes, the act of putting them on has become less rousing as it is so routine. 

“The motivation and excitement that came from putting on [workout clothes] has definitely dwindled,” Schrand said. 

If you aren’t like Schrand, though, and need the extra push, slipping into spandex and lacing up your sneakers might do the trick.

Nothing at all

If you’re quarantining alone, why wear anything at all? In all seriousness though, there is something to be said about going bottomless or topless every now and then. 

Grab your laptop, plop onto your bed and write that essay that you’ve been procrastinating a la Carrie Bradshaw. Or put on “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger, a button-down shirt and socks and slide around your living room doing your best impression of Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.”

Quarantine can get monotonous, but your outfits don’t have to be. Finding something new to wear — even with nowhere to go — can alter your mood for the better, which we can all use right now.