Opinion | Fashion inspires confidence, routine – Daily Illini

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Photo Courtesy of Glacier

A woman works at her laptop while wearing a protective mask.

By Tara Pavithran, Columnist

Right now quarantine is mostly cycling between daytime loungewear and nighttime pajamas, with the only distinction between the two being when I showered and changed. I hit a point where it felt like Wednesday every single day. Tweets have jokingly referred to the weekend as the “small weekend” and the upcoming week as the “big weekend.” Time is escaping us, and we are desperately searching for ways to combat this.

The importance of routine has been emphasized time and time again if you want any semblance of normalcy, but honestly, that’s a bit demanding. My adjustment to quarantine has not yet accommodated morning meditation, a light jog, a healthy, homemade breakfast and keeping all my social relationships alive via FaceTime and Zoom while juggling schoolwork. 

Luckily, a total restructuring of our quarantine routines isn’t completely necessary to boost motivation. Even something as simple as the clothes we wear can improve your mindset. 

Dressing for the day ties into a larger theme of compartmentalizing your life. For many of us, the closest thing to “going to the library” is relocating to a different table to use as a study surface. Since a change of scenery isn’t exactly an option, a change in self-presentation is necessary. 

A morning routine doesn’t have to involve an elaborate smoothie bowl. It should just include some sort of shift from bedtime and getting ready to start the day. Think about it through the concept of uniforms. With professional experiences, there’s a certain attire as part of the position. When you wear the polo and khakis, you’re in work mode. Even at home, preparing ourselves to do things is a goal we should still be striving toward. 

Last week I realized that I hadn’t even worn my contact lenses since before break, so the other day, I put my contacts in, wore an actual outfit (featuring jeans!) and did something with my hair. It did wonders for my productivity because there was a direct consequence to finishing my tasks: When I was done, I could shower and change into more casual and comfortable clothing. 

Looking decent can mean different things for many people. Makeup can help people with both self-expression and boredom — quarantine is a great time to figure out what makes you look and feel good. Being confident in your appearance also introduces the idea that you respect yourself, which people will be drawn to and reciprocate

Properly getting ready for class while on campus can promote this idea of separating relaxation and work. As Inc.com puts it, getting dressed for work-related obligations helps you “think smarter, make decisions quicker and assume a more professional demeanor.” This idea embodies faking it till you make it. 

While dressing up is an obvious social practice for looking presentable to peers and the public, it is also part of creating a sound mental state. Claiming an active role in your appearance depicts a sense of control associated with positive self-affirmation. 

This is also a reason why I’m a proponent of overdressing for interviews, even when they’re on the phone. Although a Skype interviewer may only see the top half of your body, you will ultimately perform better when you look and feel more powerful. 

The way we treat and present ourselves is the message we express when it comes to professional and school-related interactions. In the midst of social distancing, take this opportunity to give yourself and your work the respect it deserves. After all, charity begins at home.

Tara is a freshman in LAS.

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