Most of the time, it’s less a case of what’s fashionable and more of what’s compatible with the life you have. Function, temperature and mood swings all have to be accommodated. Once there was the old fashioned notion of occasion in a wardrobe: daywear; workwear; sportswear; evening wear; nightwear, even travelling clothes, but now many of us are living in ways that make those categories obsolete. This is especially the case if you work from home, like me. In a recent wardrobe overhaul I’ve been thinking of my clothes in terms of the following:
With no health and safety rules regulating temperature and humidity outside an office, chances are that as we move into winter, you’ll be in a daily battle with the cold as you sit at your keyboard. So there’ll be that knitted tank top you stole from your mum when you broke your arm; over that a fading black baseball top that’s kept exclusively for layering and to finish, the thick waffle knit that smells like weeing sheep every time you wash it. Your inspiration – Russian doll – an ever bulked up layered version of you.
In summer, there’s of course the reverse of filler – let’s not call it stripper – wearing the breeziest, nothingest things you can get away with.
Of course, even if you intend to spend the day working from home, there will be a time when you will be seen by other people: the postman, the motley freelancers, parental leavers and staff of your second office – the local cafe. And then you may want to make the smallest effort. Jewels pinned to your grubby outer later- Russian dolls are after all, decorated; sunglasses, perfume or a watch; you might even wear heels – what’s stopping you when you barely have to walk ten feet to get there?
These butterfly embellishments to your caterpillar body are less aesthetic than talismanic. Like Dorothy of Oz, your red shoes may startle the bejeezus out of your Kansas-plain frock, but in a stroke of magical thinking, they give you powers; are the difference between you getting work done and not.
You may or may not need clothing for a peculiar hobby. Mine is winter pond swimming in water fourteen degrees and dropping. Summer’s red bandeau bikini is floozy as a fallen leaf, but a black one-piece cut like an evening gown looks elegant enough with goose-pimples and raw red thighs. And then there’s the arctic level of filler you need before and after the plunge: knitted vests, fleece-lined jogging bottoms, jumpers and wellies. You can see them waiting for you on the bench; a Russian doll family of spectators when you’re in the water, pared down to your tiniest.
Money, phones, kit, food all need to be carried from A to B; B to A. The smallest shapeliest bags get an outing only to the most local socials or to a Tesco-dash when they complain about being neglected. Any commute requires a book; any book, a bag that can swallow it. Cue rucksacks.
Sometimes, shoes that won’t carry you all the way without either dismembering you or themselves, also need to be carried. There’s no easy way to do this, but drawstring or canvas bags can work. Posh cardboard store bags than can be recycled are also great, when you need a carrier from A to B, but not B to A.
MEETING THE OTHER HALF
There comes a time in every freelancer’s week when they have to go further than walking distance, pack their carrier carefully and commute into town- that imposing lit-up place. This is where they encounter the slick, impeccable species of office worker, a prospect so daunting and exciting that the freelancer has a whole category of clothes for going to town – you know, things that might actually have to be ironed…
THE FLIP-SIDE – LIFE FOR THE CLOTHES YOU HAVE
Ironically, the ratio of town to working from home days, bears no relation to the ratio of smart to casual clothes in their wardrobe. Tornadoing through the laundry cycle, filler fast disintegrates; but cocktail dresses, bought for single occasions that stick out like sequins, endure. If they’re not worn or given away, like the vengeful wife locked away in Mr Rochester’s attic, they will burn your house down – less metaphorically, attract moths that will eat their way through your entire wardrobe. This means that in a reversal of logic, new occasions are invented to match the dresses.