There really is a practical reason why style matters in unfamiliar times. For nearly all of us, I don’t think we’ve ever faced anything like what we are living through now. Some of my friends confide that they are scared. Others worry about going broke. Everyone I’ve been in touch with worries for elder family members, friends, colleagues, and clients. No one wants to transmit the coronavirus, much less become ill from it. So, while we lock ourselves in our homes, style matters in unfamiliar times. And I want to share a key practical reason why.

The most compelling of any practical reason why style matters in unfamiliar times is that style offers stability. Take your home surroundings, for example. The home environment that you created is where you eat, sleep, clean, and clothe yourself. After working or traveling, this space is your refuge. It may even be the base of your work operations, as is my situation.

It is so easy to take for granted the familiarity of it all. Today, I suggest that this is the time to have nothing but appreciation for the environment you created, whether you live in one room or thirty. There’s a reason why you own the things you have in your home. Be sure to connect with how this brings you stability, how it grounds you, and makes you feel safe.

The same is true of your clothing and how you style yourself at home in unfamiliar times.

If you are accustomed to dressing for work daily, or to meet people face-to-face, suddenly every day feels like Sunday. Or, if you’re accustomed to dressing to meet friends or to travel, you may question the value of dressing now. I can see the easy tendency to get comfy and to nest now that none of us are going anywhere. Well, except to the grocery store. More on that further along…

I firmly believe, especially for those who work and have moved the office into the home, that style offers continuity. Given that we are just starting a lengthy stretch of work-from-home time, this desire for continuity will happen. It might feel a bit too soon to feel that way yet. But, I am willing to bet that it eventually will.

So, to support my compelling practical reason why style matters in unfamiliar times, I offer these stay-at-home style ideas:

Keep up with your morning go-to-work routine, including putting on clothes that help put you in a productive mindset. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear the same level of clothing that you would wear to your office. I think that there’s a look that helps you to be productive at the gym, and there’s something else that helps you do great work. Just think about it.

Maintain your grooming habits. Do for yourself whatever you’d typically do to take pride in and care of yourself. This is especially important if you end up having business or personal calls that you end up doing over video. Going into isolation could encourage an otherwise video-averse person to agree to live chats because we long for human contact.

Wear something in your favorite color or color scheme. My clients deeply know the benefits of this suggestion. And here’s why it’s a favorite tip. Colors that you identify as your favorites can put you in frame of mind or enhance your mood and productivity. Of course, I only wear clothes that are in my personalized color palette. But each one of them reflects a different essence of my personality. Different days bring about different needs. Even when working at home. Like today, I’m writing this blog post. So, I love wearing gray as a reminder to myself to be calm and quiet. It helps me to be more in my thoughts. Tomorrow, when I work on marketing plans, I’ll wear something with many colors to promote my own creative thought process.

Be sure to wear that one thing every day that helps you feel “complete.” This might be very funny to think about because each individual will have a different item. Literally, this could be putting on underwear [we can get very lazy at home!] to a piece of jewelry. You don’t have to tell me what it is. And if you do, I won’t judge. But just think about what makes you feel complete. When you do, you’ll find your own practical reason why style matters in unfamiliar times.

Outings away from home will be precious, few and far between. Who knew that going to the grocery store could turn into an event?! When it’s time for me to do some power shopping for groceries, you can bet that I’m going to turn up my style game. And why? First of all, I’m going out, and that’s worthy of celebration to begin with. Second, I want to give any passerby or the store employees a chance to smile. I can’t tell you how often people stop me because of something I’m wearing that brings them some joy. And you know what? That makes me feel good to have made someone else smile. It’s a sign of respect for others who are putting themselves at risk to show up looking like their lives matter to you.

Even with the new concept of social distancing, we can still communicate so much about ourselves based on how we show up in the world. At the time of this writing, we are still allowed to be outdoors and take walks with or without dogs. Also, we can still run errands to businesses that remain open. So, even if you’re wearing athleisure to get some exercise, you can still remind yourself and others that you’re very much alive.

When you get on FaceTime or a Zoom video meeting, looking nice is an act of mindfulness. If you want to show others that you are a professional, you still should make the effort to look it. When you have a video call with your grandchildren, you want to reassure them that you are just fine.

If all else fails in terms of rising to the occasion of the day, how about turning dinner into an at-home event? Dress up a bit. It can’t hurt to enjoy a simple pleasure of being at home, whether you are seating yourself as a “party of one” or as a fully reunited family unit under one roof. Even if you are concerned about overusing your clothing and creating an eventual need for dry cleaning, try this pro tip. Just use a steamer to freshen up your clothes instead. You won’t have them on for too long anyhow. But, doing something so small, like changing your clothes, can enhance your mood and uplift your spirits.

This morning, I sprayed a particular fragrance that took me on an olfactory trip. You could do this, too! The fragrance I chose comes from the Isle of Capri. As soon as the spritz hit my bare skin, I immediately felt transported, soothed, and calm. If you can’t exactly go there for real, why not use the gift of smell. I’d suggest doing the same thing with the food we are fortunate to eat right now. Take yourself on a culinary trip. Try to make the best use of your resources.

If you have children, all of this could become an at-home lesson about the importance of self-care.

Even with this practical reason why style matters in unfamiliar times, I realize that this is not everyone’s top priority. It’s not even mine, right now. But, it still matters. I use my personal effects to communicate, to lift my mood, and to derive pleasure. Here’s permission from me that it’s okay if you do, too.

One might think that with all that’s going on right now, the talk of materiality is tone deaf. But, I beg to differ with that. This is not a rant to go shopping. But, I do suggest taking this forced pause to stop and appreciate your possessions, and to use them. Using what you have makes them of value. If you ever wanted to derive pleasure from a piece of jewelry, or a soft sweater, now is that time.

p.s. Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times fashion director, sent out an interesting email yesterday. She had a conversation with a business reporter colleague about what it’s like to work from home and the fashion choices they are each making. I thought it was fun and came back to share this update. Enjoy!