I recently saw an Instagram post that asked, “When will the pandemic end? I just want to know if I should by pumps or more pajama pants.” We’re taught to dress for the occasion, but in past months we’ve been dressing for functionality and perhaps as an involuntary reflection of our mood.

Clothing, women, mood. Don’t we all have stories about this?

In my twenties when I first started working in the mid 1980s, I sometimes treated myself to fashion magazines like Vogue and Glamour. I hoarded copies and poured over them repeatedly, trying to insert my face into the make-up ads. Where could I wear a stocking dress in an oversized hounds-tooth print, fishnet stockings and a four-inch chunky-heeled boot with silver spikes jutting from the toes?  Or skin tight fluorescent orange pants with feathered cuffs paired with a clear plastic top and a black bra.

The pages were full of angry-looking or overly sexualized women, although I couldn’t see that at the time. They were a standard of beauty for women—gaunt-faced with defined cheekbones, pencil thin waists and legs that went on forever. I was, on the inside and out, the girl-next-door.

No one wrote about how we should love our bodies. Articles focused on how women (most often failing to include BIPOC women) should brandish shoulder pads and mannish suits so we could muscle into what we’d been conditioned to believe were male spaces. There was lots of talk about body types and how to hide our flaws. If aspects of our bodies strayed outside the media’s dictated norm, certain styles weren’t for us.

I saw myself as a series of disjointed body parts. Over the years, my view has changed. This body, the sum of all its parts, is a miracle. It creates art, carries me to places and experiences and to people I love. It’s had scrapes near misses and still serves me well.

Like so many of us during this pandemic, I’ve cleaned my closets, in literal and metaphoric sense. I dress for the occasion, function, and emotion as I define it. Everyday my eyes open to a new day is an occasion. I’ve abandoned the myth that conforming to external dictates will make me feel good from the outside in. What I wear—whether structured or soft, vibrant coloured or neutral—makes me feel good from the inside out. Pumps or pajama pants, pandemic or not, we should dress to please ourselves.

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Sacrifice, betrayal, family secrets! A widower and young mother struggle to overcome their tragic pasts in a dying mill town. The Last Hoffman is the story of a quiet man who is tested and discovers his courage. It will restore your belief in second chances.

“For all the novel features characters that are alone, it is a story driven by human connections (…) With vivid descriptions, natural dialogue and in-depth characterization, Tuinman compels us to look beyond the surface. The ending is triumphant.” –Gail Murray, Historical Novel Society