I know I’ve at least mentioned it before, but I think it’s worth revisiting. Of course, by now you’ll know that I’m talking about one of the less important elements of the pandemic but I’m sure among the most relatable. No, not the importance of testing, though you’ll get no argument from me on that front. Nor is it the critical role social distancing, handwashing, and the need for us all to conduct ourselves responsibly, when confronting this insidious virus. No, I’m talking about a subtler revelation this last year has yielded. My pandemic wardrobe.
If you know me, you’ll understand that it takes a lot for me to put the words “my” and “wardrobe” together in a sentence. It suggests a level of interest in clothes that just doesn’t fit. But I did realize something the other day when for various reasons, I actually had to dress up to normal business-casual standards to shoot a short video. Now, you have to understand that for over a year, I have donned real pants about five times. Five, count ’em, five times. Four for socially distanced golf and one for this aforementioned video. Each time I pulled on chinos or khakis or whatever we call those almost ubiquitous casual pants guys wear – I just don’t have it in me to use the word “trousers” – I felt like I was dressed in Ironman’s suit. It seemed I could barely move. My locomotion was restricted, like I was walking with two casts on my legs. And what’s with that leather thing, I seem to recall it’s called a belt, pressing against my hips in an annoying grip.
Intellectually, I know this sounds ridiculous. Pre-pandemic, I spent years wearing black, blue, gray, olive, or tan khakis to meetings, church, writers’ festivals, readings, dinner parties, and multiple other social occasions. They were my “go-to” choice of leg-coverings. And I was quite comfortable in them. Not anymore. The pandemic has fundamentally altered my approach to lower-body apparel. Contributing factors in this life-change for me, I mean beyond the pandemic, include the related rise in Zoom calls and the associated need to be concerned only with how you dress your upper body.
So, what does all this mean? Well…I’ve been wearing sweatpants for 13 months now. There, I said it. And man, has it been nice, and warm, and comfortable, even cozy. Now, nothing else feels nearly as good and I’ve just gotten used to it. Yes, I’ll wear a collared shirt and even a sports jacket on my frequent Zoom calls, but if the camera ever inexplicably panned downwards, or if I ever had to stand up (hasn’t happened yet!) my rather sharp and fashionable upper half would be complemented (and not in a good way) by my lower half clad in Toronto Maple Leafs sweats, or in one of the three new pairs of marginally more fashionable sweatpants I ordered online and have put into the rotation. The juxtaposition is quite stark, so I’ve trained myself never to stand up during a Zoom. It’s become such a habit, that even when dinner with the family is over, I still just sit there forgetting that I’m not on a Zoom and can just stand up whenever I want.
After a year in soft and comfortable sweatpants, I’m not sure I can go back to regular pants with belts and zippers. When we’re all vaccinated and the world opens up again, I’m not sure I want to. I’ve become so accustomed to my elastic waist-banded sweatpants – or what I’ve heard some people call “buffet pants” – I’m afraid I may not be able to get out of them.
So, when the world is back and you see me sauntering along Bayview or speaking at the library, I apologize in advance for my so-called fashion sense. I’ll still be in transition. It’ll take some time to reintegrate my closet-full of khakis into my wardrobe. And don’t get me started on dress socks versus the fluffy and comfy hiking socks I’ve been living in. They go perfectly with sweats.