All dressed up & nowhere to go: Fashion in era of pandemic

Fashion is gaining popularity as a therapeutic art


August 3, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

To work better and perform better at anything you do, one needs to feel confident about oneself and fashion boosts confidence (Photo: Namita Chutani)

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have changed the meaning of fashion. With changes in day to day lifestyle, clothing and makeup trends, fashion as a key tool for mental fitness is gaining popularity.

“They say there’s nothing that a red lipstick can’t fix. It has never been truer than the current time. Whenever I feel low, overworked or even bored, fashion is my solution. It is refreshing and enjoyable to turn into a diva every now and then,” says Namita Chutani, 23, a Delhi based dancer and fashion enthusiast.

Fashion, most often, has been understood as decorating the exterior physique with makeup, accessories and clothing. But the current imperative of ‘Stay at Home’ or ‘Work from home’, has ensured that people dress up even if they are staying at home and have nowhere to go. The fashion industry has been one of the biggest losers due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a drop in consumption of fashion goods. The entire fashion market, from shops, salons and makeup artists to fashion designers and fashion bloggers, had come to a halt when the lockdown was announced. However, a few weeks down the line, many fashion bloggers and influencers started talking about using fashion as a tool for providing ‘therapy’ to oneself in order to stay mentally fit.

“Dressing up has always been therapeutic. It is not a new thing. It is just that we’ve started acknowledging it now. To work better and perform better at anything you do, one needs to feel confident about oneself and makeup does that. Though it is wrong for society to expect people to dress and look a certain way, that choice ‘to dress’ is important. Fashion boosts my confidence and even at home, I work better when I’m dressed better,” explains Chutani.

Fashion therapy is a new concept for the world of fashion. Our personal identity and ability to communicate a mood or attitude are influenced by our ways of dressing one way or the other. Fashion website, explains that through the choice of clothes, accessories, colours and even makeup transmits out traits and depends on it too. It goes on to say that fashion is an indicator of self-esteem and trust within us.

There is no doubt that decorating one’s body and face, dressing up and accessorising has been present since time immemorial but gaining mental peace, confidence and happiness through it hasn’t been counted yet. Research in fashion psychology and using fashion as therapy has already been popular at a few places globally for over five years, but Indians still have a long way to go in order to understand, study and use fashion as a therapy.

Thanks to fashion bloggers like Komal Pandey and Kritika Khurana who have been creating videos related to fashion during the lockdown and showing people how therapeutic and liberating dressing-up can be. Komal Panday, a popular Delhi based fashion blogger, explains on her channel, “You don’t always need to go and shop for clothes. We all have so many pieces lying around that we buy, barely wear but is too dear to give away. Lockdown is the time when you pick them all up and try wearing them at home. You can actually wear whatever you want. It is not about looking look, it is more about looking presentable to yourself. It should give you the confidence to work, go through the day and make you happier. There is no other purpose to fashion when you’re inside your home, or even outside actually!”

Pandey has been regularly uploading videos featuring herself, dressing up and has received an enormous amount of love and appreciation for her videos that she calls ‘fashion therapy videos’. These videos are usually, short tutorials about mixing and matching clothes, clad in a musical format. Thousands of comments that her videos attract every day is a sign that fashion therapies work.

“People don’t have to be in a pair of trousers just because they’re at home. A usual routine like waking up early, doing daily chores and getting ready like you would do before stepping out for college and office should be maintained. Before sitting in front of your laptop or books to work or study from home, preparing your body and face helps you prepare from inside. If you dress up and work, you’ll definitely be able to yield better results. Also, it takes away the feeling of being locked or stuck at home. It makes you ready for the day,” Pandey adds.

It’s been said time and again: this is our new normal. Routines we once knew and schedules we used to religiously follow are no longer. Work from home, social distancing, lockdowns and quarantine are the key elements that now dominate everyday life. With the continuous lockdowns, to prevent the spread of Covid19 pandemic, throughout the country have been taking a toll over people’s mental and physical health. And people are turning to fashion, among other things, to cheer themselves up. Fashion influencers, celebrities and designers talk about the benefits of feeling beautiful, stylish and confident in order to derive positive outcomes from one’s personal and professional life.

“Fashion in one word is ‘therapy’ to me. Looking forward to ‘what to wear’ gives a purpose to me early in the morning. Wearing a great outfit and creating different hairstyles makes me ready for work. It is almost magical how my mood gets uplifted as soon as I start doing my makeup,” says Rahul Das, 30, a gender-fluid fashion stylist from Delhi. “Fashion means people shouldn’t shy away from dressing up and looking the way they wish, even while nobody else looks at them,” he adds.

“Sometimes I get up don’t feel like working at all. Then I push myself to put on a dress and do a little bit of makeup and I feel refreshed. I feel more productive. If a stroke of lipstick and hint of eyeliner can make me feel better and more confident with myself throughout the day, then why not! Fashion is about creativity and art. Creativity is liberating. All art forms are therapeutic. So is fashion,” Chutani sums up.



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