So, how should we dress while social distancing?

Sweats or no sweats?


I was attending Milan Fashion Week, taking in all the gorgeous fashion the beautiful city had to offer, when the first death due to COVID-19 was announced in Italy. The second half of my trip was cancelled shortly after this. News of deaths started circulating and panic spread. This all resulted in having to catch an earlier flight back to SA and leaving Milan on day five out of the ten days I was meant to be there.


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in @rouvierre_design 🤍 📷: @nataliewra

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When I arrived back home, the company decided that it would be best for me to work from home for a two-week period, the period in which you can show symptoms of coronavirus (which is what most travellers were being asked to do).

Although we do occasionally work from home on an ad-hoc basis, I had never worked from home for more than a day or two in one go. I very quickly learnt the pros and cons. I also learnt about the psychological impact that dressing up (or lack thereof) can have on an individual.

My two-week period involved getting up, showering, putting on some makeup (a tiny drop of foundation, a lot less than I would usually wear) and jumping into a gym outfit. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t going to the gym.

Here’s what I learnt during those two weeks

Without realising it, I had confined myself to an array of athleisure outfits, sometimes wearing the same top two, three days in a row. So, what’s wrong with athleisure? Absolutely nothing. But anyone who knows me knows that I take pride in dressing up and showing up. The only thing was, I wasn’t ‘showing up’.

I was opting for comfort over cool and, for the most part, function over fashion. This is great for some people. In fact, upon my return to work, a colleague even stated, ‘Ah, you’re so lucky, you could work in your PJs all day’. Horrified, I thought, ‘Pajamas? I might as well have napped all day too.’

But for me, someone who feels powerful and fierce in a boiler suit, a pair of heels or statement boots, I soon realised that by dressing down every day, I was starting to lose my mojo. Sure, my sportswear was cute and definitely comfy, but it was adding to a more lethargic, less passionate version of myself.


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Now, this is completely personal. Just like some people feel they are more productive in the mornings and others at night, I personally feel more efficient, motivated and inspired when I’m (a least a little) dressed up. I’m not talking ready-to-head-to-a-soiree dressed up, but like I have put a little effort into my look.

It’s kind of like the psychology behind the saying ‘dress for the job you want’ and why fashion is such a powerful transformative tool — and by this, I mean, it lets you choose the mood and vibes you want to radiate internally, on any given day, which you most likely end up exuding externally (perhaps without even knowing).

In fact, in the findings of a social experiment published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers found that those who dressed up, felt significantly more powerful and in control of the situation than their underdressed peers.

It may seem like a trivial thing to be thinking about when the world, as we know it, is in a major crisis. It may also seem frivolous to think about what to wear while immersed in your work-station setup in your living room, or what to wear on a grocery run, but it’s imperative to be nurturing our mental health during this time. And, if your outfit choice while social distancing can positively contribute to even 1% of your mood then, so be it!

So, how should you dress while social distancing?

This depends entirely on you! Ask yourself the question, ‘What do I feel best in?’ or rather, ‘What do I feel most inspired or motivated in?’. If it’s your baby-soft sweats and slogan tees, then run with that. Hell, allocate a different tee for every day of the week.

For me, I don’t plan to completely stop with the athleisure. I mean, brands have made sportswear *real* cute in recent years and also, comfy AF. But I’ve made a personal pledge to still dress up, at least a few times a week.

If you need some inspo, there’s a new page on the ‘Gram dubbed @WFHfits, that allows self-isolators to post their most fabulous WFH outfits. I’m kinda addicted.

I will be posting my social distancing looks too, so follow me @cleopatramarco. And, I will also leave you with an edit of fashionable non-athleisure attire to shop and wear while WFH, for those ‘dress-up’ fashion-lovers like me, out there.

At the end of the day, this all goes back to the idea of dressing for YOU. Okay, for your dog, too.

Shop dressy but still comfy non-athleisure attire now


Linen dress

R999Sweat Peas

How cute is this puff-sleeve 100% linen dress from local brand Sweat Peas?


Satin wrap skirt


The epitome of luxe. You can tie this skirt in three different ways. Wear it with a slouchy kit or tee.


Knit set

R799BLVD Boutique

The look of a cute set with the comfort of your fave PJs.


Prairie Dress

R649Missguided on Superbalist

ICYMI, it’s prairie-dress season.


Boiler suit


The boiler suit is a fuss-free look that you can literally throw on. Plus, it’s comfy too.


Tiered dress


An easy-t0-wear dress that will look good styled in a zillion different ways.


Slogan tee

R174,30Cotton On

Oh darlin’. you’ll wear this with everything (including the pants below).


Leopard-print bell-bottoms

R550Maylee at Orphan Street Clothing Shop

Chilled on top, party at the bottom.


Strappy leather sandals


Ok, so I know we’re WFH, but have you ever pretended your hallway was a catwalk?


*Social distancing stylishly* since ’20.

x Cleopatra

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