Dressing in 2022 is fashion as an antidote

One way or another it’s 2022. Although I’m not entirely sure when that happened, I think it’s safe to say that a lot has changed lately . And in many ways, me too. When I think back to the past two years, it feels like one of those movie montages where a character goes through a big transition in a short amount of time, with lots of wardrobe changes. There have been weeks that have only seen yoga pants. Days when a nightgown found new life by masquerading as a dress. Boundary-pushing outfits that I proudly wore in public, complete with a contrast-patterned face mask.

Through it all, the biggest lesson I learned about life is the same one I learned about fashion: all bets are off. As we settle into 2022, we don’t know much about how this year will unfold. But when it comes to dressing, I know one thing. It will be for me.

In recent days, I have started practicing emotionally prescriptive clothing – fashion as an antidote. Every morning, I take stock of how I feel, like one of those mood questionnaires made up of assorted smileys. Then I choose pieces that not only reflect my current state of mind, but can also help shape my personal landscape.

Do I need a hug? Then I grab something meaningful—my well-worn varsity sweatshirt, my mom’s watch, the necklace a friend gave me. Personal talismans are more important than ever, to help me feel close to people, places, and experiences that I may not be physically close to.

Do I desperately need a smile? (Or a vacation? Or, say, the ability to teleport?) So it’s time to employ some sartorial optimism. Bright colors. Weird socks. The shirt embroidered with a vague and absurd character.

For those days when I just can’t, I rely on two facts: Tailored pajamas make great tops. And every day is a special occasion if you so choose.

As I write this, I’m wearing an utterly impractical cocktail ring because it makes typing more fun. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t set foot outside today or that no one else sees it. Once again, I come back to my mantra for the year: Dressing up is only for me.

While the following trends once felt loaded with pressure, they now feel like welcome sources of inspiration when viewed through a take-it-or-leave-it lens. Even if I don’t have the size for certain silhouettes nor the budget to recreate Alessandro Michele’s Gucci Love Parade (one can dream!), I take pleasure in adapting what suits me. Recently, that meant shopping in my own closet, pulling out candy-colored faux furs, wide-lapel blazers, a fanny pack stowed away for years, suddenly brought back to life. Even though I’m just going down the block, these pieces add a touch of cinematic verve, a reminder that we are, as always, the key players in the unfolding story of our lives.

In the interest of full disclosure, yoga pants still make fairly regular appearances, although my relationship to them has changed. Where they once felt like “giving up” pants, they are now more like friends who are invested in my well-being. I rely on them to give me a slight boost that it is always beneficial to move, stretch or go for a walk whenever I can.

Annie Dillard wrote, “How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life.” And I would extend that to the way we dress too. Are we comfortable? Are we authentic? Are we true to ourselves? That’s all that really matters.

Another big lesson I bring this year is how much the little things matter. 2020 was buoyed by favorite TV shows, comfort foods and calls with loved ones, while 2021 was all about walks and hugs and feeling the sun on my face. It turns out that little glows of heat can do a lot. The same goes for our cabinets. I’ve discovered that little things—accessories, nail polish, lingerie that no one else knows exist—infuse not only my outfits, but my days, with tiny glimpses of joy. I have come to believe that it is our duty to extract joy wherever we can find it, in the best of times and also (especially) in difficult times.

I often think back to that iconic scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Holly Golightly sleeps in her bed, cat perched on top of her. She wears a robin’s egg blue sleep mask adorned with golden eyelashes and earplugs with lavender tassels that dangle back and forth. It’s glamorous and ridiculous and unbelievable. That, in a nutshell, is the kind of energy I’m talking about.

When it comes to dressing this year, I maintain that fashion is what we need. A place of lightness and experimentation, of conviviality and grandeur, sometimes all at once. Style can also be a means of change. A friend recently shared how refreshing it was to see an executive at her job trade in their starched shirts for hoodies (and subsequently soften their management style as well). Another friend, who is still working from home, started wearing her best dresses for Zoom calls. The old rules do not apply. All that matters is how you feel.

When Emerson wrote, “Trust Yourself: Every Heart Reaches to This Iron Cord,” he was in no way talking about making fashion choices during an ongoing pandemic. But the feeling is true. In a rapidly changing and largely unpredictable landscape, the only constant is you. So I say, dress for that person. You can not be wrong.