Life in Lockdown: Fashionista survival guide

by Nosipho Mathaba


Trying to find ways to keep yourself busy during quarantine is very daunting. Especially if you consider yourself a fashionista/creative like me. Our president articulated, “From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home”. Shock. That is the emotion I felt at first. Amongst all the more serious realisations faced, I realized that Miss Coco V (COVID-19) would be forcing me to wear sweats and pyjamas all day, every day. I was NOT okay with that.


So, amongst other things, my life in lockdown will consist of dressing up every day to ensure that I don’t lose my mind!

“Allowing yourself to care about the things you drape over your own body can be, at the very least, a powerful balm”, says author and editor Meghan Nesmith. This is especially important because most of us feel powerless, alone and disconnected in lockdown.


Jessica Musselman, a Los Angeles physiotherapist states that “Staying stuck in your pyjamas day after day sets your mood. It literally keeps you stuck.”


The thought of my drip staying this stagnant for three weeks or even more scares me. That is when I decided to use my days under lockdown to uplift my mood through dressing up.

Dr Alastair Tombs, from the University of Queensland's business school, proves that what you wear has an effect on your emotions. After interviewing 30 women, he discovered that “outfit choices are made to match mood[s] and as a form of self-expression” and that “clothing is used to control or mask emotions”.

Professor Karen Pine, from the Psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, strongly affirms that there are negative effects of wearing pyjamas and sweats all day. In her study, 57% of women admitted that their choice to wear baggy clothing was because they felt depressed. If this does not make you want to get out of those pyjamas and channel your inner diva like me, I don’t know what will! So, to combat this, Pine presents practical solutions. She states that there are different colours and kinds of clothes which have a huge effect on our mood.

Pine expresses that "happy" clothes, are those which are made from bright, exotic and beautiful fabrics. This is what inspired my first look. Not only is this look Makhanda weather friendly, it is a great quarantine mood booster. The puff sleeves add excitement to the already multi-coloured top.

[Look 1: Tight fitting skinny jeans with multicolored, puffed sleeved top (Zara)]


Clothes that are flattering and well-tailored to your body are also a mood enhancer according to professor Pine. Look number two is a perfect balance of the two. This tight fitting, multi-coloured, striped dress is an example of things you can wear to make you feel less down. This dress fits well, allowing your self-esteem to sky rocket.

[Look 2: Tight fitting, multicolored one shoulder dress (Zara)]


A personal stylists and image consultant, Annalisa Armitage, says that the clothes that remind us of bad times or feelings need to be let go. In essence, slap miss Coco V in the face by wearing clothes that remind you of good times and feelings. This is how I came up with the final look.

The third look reminds me of my mom and my weight journey. My mom was the one who set my love for fashion on fire from a very young age. Simply, my mom bought me this top, despite my reservations against it. Now, this top reminds me that she’s truly the inspiration behind my style. Another reason why this look empowers me during lockdown, is because it signifies growth. Growth with my weight. I have always had a slim frame. However, when life was extremely unkind to me, I ended up losing a lot of weight and my favourite, black denim skirt was too big for me. After getting my mental health back on track, at the end of 2019, this skirt wrapped around me like a glove. Wearing this outfit reminds me that bad times aren’t everlasting.

[Look 3: Cheetah shirt (Zara) with black denim skirt (Factory)]


If you are perfectly okay with wearing sweats and pyjamas all day, go for it. However, if you are like me, and you feel stagnant without a different outfit change every day? Dress up as much as you can! It may only be a few days into lockdown but in this lonely and powerless, make yourself feel powerful.

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Rhodes University (UCKAR), Makhanda (Grahastown), Eastern Cape

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