For over a year now, I’ve worked almost exclusively from home. I haven’t seen friends, with the exception of one road trip last November. Until last month, I hadn’t eaten in a restaurant, not once, even outside. The person who in early 2020 was a casual, unexpecting woman who loved clothes and working my own unique styles has become a husk who has worn comfort wear for so long that I now want nothing else.

If you were to chart it, the amount of real outfits I’ve worn over the past year and the amount of loungewear I’ve bought would both be diagonal lines, but one shooting straight up and one plunging down into oblivion.

 The Joy of Fashion

But honestly, putting together cool outfits, thrifting, and playing around with styles has always been something I’ve adored. It used to be that nothing made me feel better about a day than putting on a great outfit. 

New Fashion Terrors

But something has changed in my brain (and I imagine many of yours) that loves the feeling of sweats and pajamas so much that now, as I start to do things a little bit again, I stare at my clothes with a bit of dread.

The thing is, when I force myself into a real outfit to go out and do something, I still get that same rush that I used to get, making me feel more capable and ready for the day. But now it’s common to be getting dressed for a very brief outing or meetup, rather than a full day of work and activities, so going from comfy clothes all day to out-and-about looks later on requires more motivation than it once did.

Here are a few ways I’ve been trying to motivate myself to love style and “real” clothes again.

Slow Transitions

Rather than letting myself wear essentially pajamas all day while I work at home and then trying to find the energy to put on a cute dress to go somewhere, I try to wear a mid-level “real” outfit during the day.

I put on some actual pants or shorts that have a less comfy material, and even if I still wear them with a sweatshirt or oversized t-shirt, the step has been made. Then the idea of putting on jeans or something later on is less horrifying; I’ve been preparing myself all day.

I also try to just wear full-on “uncomfortable” outfits for an hour or a couple hours, so I can get back in the zone of having tight clothes or an underwire bra or heeled shoes on. And then at the end I’ve proven I can do it. Real outfits haven’t defeated me yet!

Refreshing My Closet

I’m a big proponent of sustainable fashion and avoiding unnecessary entire closet refreshes from fast fashion brands, but I do think there’s something to be said for picking up some new pieces now that you’re ready to re-enter the world a bit. 

It can be hard to get motivated about clothes you’ve had for years that maybe didn’t even excite you pre-pandemic, but putting on an outfit becomes more fun if you have new items you love. I do this primarily by thrifting and shopping vintage and secondhand, which I love and is more environmentally conscious. But it takes more effort too, so there are also slower sustainable fashion brands out there to try.

Watching Movies and Shows

Okay, I know this sounds counterintuitive, but lately all my comfort rewatching of favorite shows and movies has actually started to inspire me to wear more real outfits. 

At least for me, as someone who bases a lot of my style off of vintage clothes and looks, watching things set in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s that have great costumes makes me feel inspired to put some of the ideas I see to work for my own looks. Lately I’ve been getting fashion inspo from rewatching Friends, 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, When Harry Met Sally, Legally Blonde, While You Were Sleeping, and plenty of other charming classics. Even if your style is something totally different, watching super modern shows with trendy fashion could help inspire trendy looks. Or whatever suits your tastes!

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About Annie Burdick

Annie Burdick is a writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon, but transplanted from the Midwest. She also works as a community inclusion specialist for adults with disabilities. Previously she's edited and written for magazines, websites, books, and small businesses, on an absurdly wide range of topics. She spends the rest of her time reading, eating good food, and finding new adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

View all posts by Annie Burdick