Getting Dressed – a dozen surprising perks of getting ready for the day

Since the pandemic began, I’ve heard a lot of people are having trouble getting dressed. If they aren’t going anywhere, why bother? Believe me, I get it. Like many people my age, I had to learn this lesson for myself.

When I became a retired empty-nester, I found it difficult to get dressed and ready for the day. At first, staying in my pajamas well past noon felt like a just reward. After all, I’d been rushing to get out the door for school or work my entire life.

However, after a couple of weeks lazing through my days without putting on real clothes, I felt like Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company, famous for her muumuus and slippers. Since then, even if I’m not going anywhere, I have a morning routine that includes getting dressed and ready for the day.

For me, that means putting on a casual but cute outfit that can’t be mistaken for pajamas or exercise gear. Though I’ve never been a fashionista, my charming mother and her friends taught me at a young age the wisdom of being properly dressed.

In her best-selling book, Lessons from Madame Chic, Jennifer L. Scott shares secrets she learned from the matriarch of the family with whom she lived while studying in France. Among other lessons in living, Scott noticed both Madame Chic and her husband remained well-dressed from morning to night.

There is a fashionable trend towards messy chic which has only been exaggerated by the quarantine. I recently saw a young mom at the grocery store wearing pajama pants and a sweatshirt boasting, “Messy hair. Don’t care.”

This week, the impeccably dressed Alex Trebec told Jeopardy viewers they could take the test at home – without putting on pants! There is, thankfully, a disclaimer that contestants are required to wear “out-of-the-house-clothing.”

Cheeky, yes, but what have we come to?

Even if the rest of the world welcomes unapologetic sloppiness, I just can’t. When tempted to remain in my pajamas or early morning walking clothes, I hear my favorite Disney muse, Mary Poppins, firmly say, “Best foot forward. Spit spot!”

Thanks to experience, and the good example of others, mature men and women know there are some surprising perks to getting ready for the day. Whether you are retired, work from home, or are a full-time parent or care-giver, taking time to get dressed each morning can help us ~

  1. Have More Energy – Getting ready for the day gets us up and moving. By the time we’re dressed and looking sharp, the blood is pumping, morning kinks are worked out, and we’re ready to move mountains – or at least tackle our to-do list.
  2. Control Our Closet – With time, we learn what styles, colors, and fabrics feel good and function in our real, everyday lives. What a joy it is to have an organized closet filled with clothes we actually wear and love.
  3. Stay Well-Groomed – If we don’t routinely get ready for the day, it’s easy to ignore basic grooming tasks. Remember the make-over scene in Miss Congeniality? If I let things go, I’m afraid it would take more than an entire warehouse full of professionals to make me presentable again.
  4. Age Gracefully – As we get older, it’s especially important to have confidence in the person we see in the mirror. Getting ready for the day helps us look and feel our best so we can embrace our age and continue living our best life.
  5. Mind Our Manners – As a teacher, I was always amazed at how well-behaved my students were when dressed for a field trip or special event. I admit I’m more aware of using my best manners when neatly dressed than when schlepping around in my bathrobe.
  6. Brighten the Day – Taking time to pop on a cheery scarf or dashing jacket can bring a smile to others. People appreciate it when we dress up a little, especially during the current gloom of a pandemic.
  7. Eat Better – There’s something about lounging around in stretchy pants by any name that makes it easy to skip meals and spend the day snacking. A routine of getting dressed helps us enjoy the ritual of sitting down to healthy meals.
  8. Show Respect – Looking our best demonstrates a level of respect for ourselves and others, including the people in our own homes. Like it or not, we tend to be given more respect when we are nicely dressed.
  9. Accomplish More – We all have things we want and need to accomplish, but if we don’t get a good start, the day can slip away. Active folks know wonderfully productive and fulfilling days begin by getting dressed.
  10. Be a Good Role Model – Grumbling (too loudly) about how people dress these days isn’t a good look for anyone. We’ve learned actions speak louder than words. Dressing appropriately encourages others to do the same.
  11. Sleep Better – At the end of the day, changing out of our clothes and getting ready for bed is a pleasant routine that lets our body and mind know it’s time to wind down. A good night’s sleep is crucial for our well-being, particularly when life is feeling less-than-normal.
  12. Carpe Diem – Life is short. Getting dressed helps us make the most of each day, which means making the most of our lives. It’s impossible to seize the day while still wearing our pajamas.

Unmasked – the joy of removing masks of another kind

Donning a face mask in public has become second nature now. At first, I double-checked I put it on correctly. I didn’t want to be like the suave politician who slipped one elastic ear band over his head while the other one dangled below his chin in an epic mask fail. Most of us now wear our masks like a pro.

Then again, most of us have had a lot of practice wearing masks of another kind.

Masks I’ve worn include the good girl, dutiful daughter, tireless teacher and martyr mom. My mask said strong, when I felt like mush. It said perfect, when things were anything but. All too often the mask I wore said yes, when I should have said, “No. Nope. Not a chance.”

Author Rick Warren wrote, “Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.”

As a young woman, I learned to put on another type of mask in the form of make-up. Cover, girl! For most of my life, I rarely left the house without a light coat of six cosmetics. I came to view putting on make-up as something classy women do to hide the real deal and present something more acceptable.

Then there is the full-body mask I wore in the name of fashion. Uncomfortable styles. Unnecessary details. Unpractical fabrics. Unaffordable trends. All in an attempt to say something about myself through what I wore on the outside, instead of who I was on the inside.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before designer face masks were in vogue. Louis Vuitton masks are already sold out. Marc Jacobs has a $100 mask available. Givenchy sells one for $590. Yes, you read that right.

As George Benson sang, “We’re lost in a masquerade.” 

The face masks we are asked to wear now aren’t meant to make a statement or hide behind. They serve a practical purpose – to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19. They aren’t cute or comfortable, but they are necessary for the time being.

I wear a simple mask we bought in bulk. When I put one on, I notice my body language becomes more important. I move in a more intentional way. My word choice and tone, though muffled, become more precise. I’m more aware of communicating through eye contact.

The mask somehow intensifies my desire to live more authentically. I’m seeing my bare face without judgment. I’m sparing my hair from the daily assault of styling tools. I’m wearing my most comfortable clothing. I’m moving through life at my own pace and listening to my own voice – which always leads to more joy.

I’ve spent much of my life masquerading as one thing or another. Yet under the cover of a pandemic and, ironically, a face mask, I’m becoming more and more comfortable exposing my true self.

Uncovered. Unadorned. Unapologetically unmasked. §