Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Clark Kent needed a phone booth when he had to change clothes in a hurry to become Superman. We just need a quick trip to the closet. Our days are largely spent at home, with visibility required only sporadically for virtual meetings. So we are toggling frequently between dressing down and dressing up, divided by screen view. Mainly, we are matching a casual bottom half with tops that can be camouflaged, accessorized or changed to quickly allow us to go from “Who cares what I look like?” to suave superwomen.

Nina Kampler of Teaneck, president of Kampler Advisory Group, moves fluidly between Zoom calls and other activities with the same outfit—and one key addition. In response to a question on fashion choices I posed on Facebook, she wrote, “The bottom half is Lululemon or other comfy pants, paired with a relaxed top and often a cardigan. That can take me from a walk, to a Zoom barre class in my living room, to live camera business calls where I’m working with retailers and shopping centers navigating the complexities of this unprecedented shutdown. But each day I choose a scarf that coordinates with the top, and wrap it around my shoulders. It turns the casual outfit a bit professional.”


Many respondents wrote that they wear leggings and switch tops depending on their agenda. “I usually wear a nice top, and leggings or PJ pants on the bottom that hopefully no one sees,” wrote Chani Markel, a Washington Heights speech language pathologist doing teletherapy while quarantining with her parents in Teaneck.

Some, like Karen Reiner, an Englewood occupational therapist, like to maintain their style under all conditions. Reiner recalled that even when she gave birth to her daughter years ago, the security people in the hospital thought she was a visitor because she was wearing real clothes.

Marsha Greenberg Motzen, who teaches music at Yavneh Academy, hasn’t worn a sheitel since the lockdown began. Or a watch, especially the one that tracks movement. “I got an alert from my Fitbit a month ago,” she wrote. “It thinks I’m dead.”

And what about make-up? Does anyone still wear it? Lipstick and blush were mentioned by several, but eyeliner and shadow are taking a vacation.

Comfortable attire may be here to stay, but there is some pent-up longing for a return to style.

“As soon as this is over, I’m getting a haircut, manicure and facial,” said Miriam Stiefel, an Englewood sales executive.

Markel is ready for this chapter to be over. “I am looking forward to getting dressed in the real world,” she wrote. “I haven’t worn Shabbat clothes in months.”

By Bracha Schwartz