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What I Learned About Bodily Comfort in Lockdown


So many words have been justifiably written about this outrageously abnormal year — full of lockdowns and packed with fear, distance, loneliness, stress, and unfamiliar circumstances. Writing as if it's all over feels strange, but the way out of the global crisis, for some, certainly seems clear and possible these days. The occasion for reflection on what was and what will come moving forward seems to be now. So, I want to reflect on my lockdown wardrobe and why comfy clothes are staying for me.

Of all the characteristics of this life-changing year, one that has proven especially prominent, and will most likely remain that way for a good, long while, is the role of the home in people's lives. With that, comes the question of what you wear at home. The outside world provides norms, rules, and occasions to dress up in certain, more restrictive clothes, such as tailored suits or sturdy jeans. The home, on the other hand, has always provided people with the chance to relax and wear what their bodies are actually most comfortable in. Bodily comfort typically comes first when the focus is on casualness, but, unfortunately, comes last when the focus is on respectability, bravado, or necessity. In the past year, for me, this changed.

As I dealt with the more homebody nature of a pandemic year, the lines between what happened outside and what happened at home substantially blurred. Jobs, events, social gatherings, and human communication were all transferred online, and with that transformation came another one — what people chose to wear and how they presented themselves.

When, for an entire year, the only part of our bodies visible to others was the upper portion — made all the more curious as those norms, rules, and occasions of The Outside became meaningless compared to the trauma and stress of the dominating pandemic — bodily comfort climbed to the top of the wardrobe hierarchy, no matter the day and regardless of the time. Many people, including yours truly, have worn t-shirts, Cali Pullovers, and sweatpants more often than they have ever worn them before. While doing so, I've come to learn that focusing on bodily comfort enables me to not only feel better but to work and live better as well.

Over the course of this strange and emphatically unique year, I've come to learn that the soft fabrics of basic wear, paired with a fit that lets me breathe, enable me to focus on my mental and physical needs without distraction — and even satisfies some of my needs as well. It provides an environment that allows me to truly, actually destress.

A good t-shirt that reduces the friction between skin and fabric clears the white noise in the back of my mind, freeing its capacity to handle stress. A nice pullover keeps the weight light and my body warm, allowing me to focus on my other physical needs. Sweatpants are not only comfortable to sit in for hours, but they’re also ideal for breaks of stretching and moving around, which, this year especially, I’ve realized is extremely important. Finally, if the temperature’s rising, I can count on pairing a tank top with a pair of shorts to help me remain cool and breezy rather than feeling suffocated.

So, during the year of Covid-19, I’ve come to learn that I don't want to let bodily comfort go when the world returns to its usual norms, rules, and occasions. Although I love fancying up, my everyday is better spent in my favorite tee, and sometimes I just want to wear it everywhere I go. The advantages of bodily comfort and its high placement in the wardrobe hierarchy are not something we should forget coming out of this perplexing and daunting year. If there's one thing we should remember when looking back on living through Covid-19, it’s that norms, rules, and occasions all end up bowing to our physical and mental needs as human beings and we should allow ourselves to express that with what we wear.

— Michael Elias

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