Covid-19 became very real to me as early as March 2020, when both my sister and her husband fell victim to it. Knowing their health struggles in the hospital but unable to physically reach out to them due to strict quarantine protocols made me very anxious and overly aware of the need to keep safe by staying home and limiting my exposure to the virus.
A year and so many months of lockdowns later, I can count the number of times I have been out of the house with my fingers and toes! But in those many months, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life in the time of Covid. My primary realisation is that I can live life with far less “stuff” than I thought I needed. This is particularly true when it comes to fashion.
Like most women, the pandemic life meant having a closet full of clothes but with nowhere to go to show them off. So, those nice, trendy outfits stayed in their hangers. Instead, days at home in tropical Manila have been spent in old T-shirts and shorts, light cotton house dresses, and flip-flops. I think it’s what they call the “casualisation” trend. Work meetings done via Zoom were my only opportunities to wear a nice top, but the ratty shorts stayed on!
A year into the pandemic, I decided to declutter said closet. First to go were those “fast fashion” finds made from synthetic materials that were uncomfortable to wear in warm weather. I realised that, while homebound, I had been systematically reaching for pieces made from pure cotton, linen and other natural fabrics. Not only do these materials breathe and feel comfortable, they are sustainable.
The same is true for my bags and shoes. I’ve decided to keep only my favourites that all happen to be made of leather, particularly the vegetable-tanned ones. I’m also hanging on to my sneakers with leather or performance mesh uppers.
It pleases me to see that I am pretty much going along the lines of APLF’s Spring-Summer 2022 material trends.
It is all about a “desire for simplicity and well-being”, calling for a return to authentic, eco-responsible, tactile and original materials such as metal-free or vegetable-tanned leathers, recycled leathers, plant-based alternatives to leather, cotton, linen and fabrics from natural fibres such as pineapple and bamboo.
I also focused on the functionality of the clothes. Easy-to-wear, durable, classic styles that would take me from day to night, hot and rainy, were the preferred “keep” items. Special occasion dresses have been folded and kept in storage in the attic, hopefully, to be re-worn once this pandemic is over. Those that didn’t make the cut have been handed down to family and friends who have no qualms wearing second-hand clothes.
My new capsule wardrobe
So I ended up with a “capsule wardrobe” that now holds only my bare essentials: denim jeans, chinos, shirts and blouses, blazers and jackets, cotton dresses and T’s. Decluttering my closet made it obvious that I favour a few colours that happily fall within the forecasted colour palette for Spring-Summer 2022, featuring “natural colours” such as greens, blues, browns and floral tones of pinks and reds.
But now that I am fully vaccinated and the world seems to be slowly but surely coming out of its pandemic shell and travel prospects broaden once again, I wonder if my newly acquired fashion sensibilities will survive the excitement of dressing up for night outs in the town and fun-filled events, the way we did pre-Covid? Wouldn’t it be fun to go to the malls once again and shop till you drop? With online fashion stores ramping up their offerings, it will be so tempting to fill up baskets and make those purchases.
After some contemplation, I am quite confident I can stay on the path of simple pleasures and sustainable goals. This is something I have learned from my pandemic experience…that we do not need much to be content. Health and happiness within the family’s fold are really all that matters.
My “new normal” will definitely keep my fashion preferences focused on the practical, functional and natural. Through these fashion decisions that cover aspects of sustainability, I’d like to think that I will be doing my share, albeit small, for climate action and saving our planet.