Socks Are the New Shoes and Other Style Truths From the Guts of Quarantine

If this platform is based upon a single principle, it is that you should dress for yourself. Doing that gives you permission to openly express by putting on what you really want to wear—free from the shackles of expectation, implication, anticipation and so forth. The hope is that in consequence, you earn the agency to be who you are without explanation or apology. Why did we ever accept another way?

When we look good, we feel good, and therefore we are good. I heard myself saying this all the time when I was pregnant. In quarantine, I’ve been thinking about it a lot again because it’s so easy to keep your closet doors closed. To retreat to the same stained t-shirt and sweatpants day in and out. But doing that contradicts the basic principle of dressing for yourself. It undermines what happens when you close the closet doors and lock in the well of unlimited possibility and opportunity to invent yourself. It might sound dramatic, but maybe it behooves all of us to appraise our respective circumstances and deploy self-rescue plans accordingly.

To be clear, sometimes in order to feel good, you do have to let yourself go—butt cheeks unclenched, raw cookie dough stowed between molars, and limbs hanging listlessly from the corners of your couch—but I’ve reserved such behavior for weekends, it helps me demarcate time. On most weekdays, I’ve already assumed responsibility for the challenge of figuring out how to look good, feel good, be good, and continue to dress by the rules of Who I Am. Several truths have been so far uncovered. These are their stories, dun dun.

Sweatshirts are the new sweaters

Though to be clear, this declaration is reflective of feedback I’ve gleaned from the style queries that populate my Instagram inbox. It’s true that I have been sticking rather adamantly to one navy blue Entireworld sweatshirt (actual knits make an apartment feel even more stuffy) but lately, I have been thinking: should I have just gotten that Hanes crew neck sweatshirt in November when I put it in my Amazon cart? I think if I’d done it, I also would have ordered some iron-on patches from around the internet and affixed them to the sweatshirt. Maybe I’ll still do it.

To pair with…

A damn good fidgeting tool

Back to the fidgeting tool: I’ve long held the belief that jewelry maintains a transformative quality—the way a string of beads can pull together an outfit the way a punctuation mark changes an assembly of words to give them meaning by mere virtue of their presence. Is this metaphor too far reaching? Here are simpler terms: I hate my navy blue sweatshirt when I forget to put on a necklace. But when I remember to, the sweatshirt is the best thing I own. You know how they say behind every great man is an even greater woman? Jewelry = the greater woman. Put on your best necklace. How does it feel?

Socks (and house slippers) are the new shoes

I used to have a habit of taking hotel slippers from wherever I traveled as a sort of memento, but after filling up too much closet space with non-shoes, only one pair from a fancy hotel in France remains. They’ve now become a highlight of getting dressed. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re fluffy and thus add a little bit of weight to my bottom half (anything to feel grounded, I guess), but I pair them with fun socks, most of which hit about mid-calf (my preferred length, particularly when coupled with shorts), and think about all the compasses of judgment I questioned for getting those Balenciaga “shoes.”

When whatever the new normal is to restore, I will think long and hard about how to approximate this equation for the public domain.

Beach shorts are gym shorts are pajama shorts are office pants full stop

The only way I’ve ever been able to successfully justify buying beach shorts because of the fleeting nature of the season for which they are made is by running every pair I consider through the filter of two questions: 1. Could I wear them around Manhattan or 2. To hang out at home? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, I typically get them. A couple of summers ago, when I was emerging from the foxhole of maternity leave and thus probably in a similar mindset for dressing, I discovered that I love getting dressed to get coffee. I think it’s because I’d wear beach shorts to the cafe every morning. Now I pretend my kitchen is the coffee shop and dress accordingly. I invite you to try it.

Though if you prefer a robe, now’s as good a time as any to take a belt you’ve had for years or one of the fanny packs you bought when we all decided we would commit to hands-free travel and wrap them around that shit as if bathleisure was not a flash in the pan.

Actually, not full stop, to that point…

You might remember a style theory that Larry David dropped on the world at the beginning of 2020 and in terms far less succinct or fluid as those of one Haley Nahman, the tl;dr is: your top half should only be as decorative as your bottom half is not. I’m currently observing my husband—who has relocated the desk that once lived in our great room to sit against the wall by my side of the bed and is now in my direct line of eyesight for nearly 16 hours every day—dressed in a button-down shirt tucked into boxer shorts. And upon looking down at my own concoction—off-white sweatpants dressing down a white poplin renaissance-core blouse, I’m starting to think half-dressing has never been so applicable.

In sum: do with this what you will—be that nothing, something, or the balls to the walls co-opting of our new but no doubt greatest hashtag contribution to the social internet. None of us are going anywhere, but fuck it, let’s get dressed. Eventually, we’ll need our clothes again. I’d rather not forget that.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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