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How to Dress for Various Self-Isolation Scenarios

Virtual first dates. All-company Zooms. Panic-baking sessions. Self-isolation has given rise to many scenarios we never saw coming. Here’s how we're dressing for them.

By Tory Hoen

It’s safe to say that everything is in flux right now. While many people are heroically still heading to work, lots of us are at home, adjusting to a different way of life. And while our new sartorial challenges are far from pressing, they are somewhat fascinating.

These are strange times. And strange times raise strange questions: What does one wear for a virtual first date? What’s the right outfit for panic-baking 100 cookies? Do I need to wear pants to my all-company Zoom meeting? (Yes. Please wear pants.)

Self-isolation has given rise to many scenarios we never saw coming. Here’s what we’re wearing as we navigate them.


The Zoom Meeting

You’re pretty sure your co-workers were once full-sized humans, but in the age of Zoom meetings, they’re just tiny heads on a grid. In this alternate universe where we can only see each other from the shoulders up, we’ve all asked ourselves the critical question: Do I really need to wear pants to my two o’clock? Our professional opinion: Yes. They don’t have to be fancy pants, but if your dog knocks over your laptop mid-chat, you’ll be glad you’re wearing them. Go with the super-stretchy Shaw or Marais pants on the bottom. And throw on the Merritt or Woolf jardigan for an easy “business on top” vibe.

The At-Home Date

Some sweet day, you will return to your favorite restaurant and sit at a real table and chat with a real waiter. But for now, take-out will have to do. Set the scene: candles, Ethiopian jazz, that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for… this? Yes, this! Put on a black cocktail dress, strappy heels, outrageous earrings, and your boldest lipstick. There—isn’t it nice to feel glamorous again?

Panic Baking

It’s 4pm on a Wednesday, when suddenly you get the urge… to bake. Sure, it could wait until the weekend, but why? Let’s live in the moment! Convinced that you can whip up 100 cookies while conducting your final conference call of the day, you start rifling through your cabinets. Since you’ll inevitably be covered in flour before the hour is out, choose an easy, machine-washable look like the Giulia top and the Milo jean.

Video Happy Hour With Your College Crew

You’ve finally found a night that works for your five besties from college. (A modern mystery: Why is scheduling even harder now that we’re all stuck at home?) You’ve made yourself a margarita. But now, what to wear? This is the closest thing to a party you’ve been to in weeks, so a little effort is in order. Choose top in a cheerful color or a breezy patterned dress, and enjoy your ability to “go out” without actually going out.

Binging TV Shows

It’s Saturday, and it’s raining. You attempted a morning walk, but now you’re ready to curl up like a hibernating hedgehog while you binge-watch all seven episodes of Tiger King. Light a fire (or a candle), make some tea, and curl up in the wearable hug that is the Morandi sweater. This is no time to bother with buttons—so just reach for the elastic-waisted Colby pant. And while you’re at it, why not slip on some cashmere socks?

The Video Check-In With Your Boss

Today is the day you’ll remind your boss just how indispensable you are—and you need to look the part. So what if your toddler / cat / partner has been distracting you all morning and you’re still in your pajamas? When your boss Zooms you at 3pm, you’ll be ready in a sharp blazer over a sleek top, accessorized with simple jewelry. As far as she knows, you woke up like this.

The Virtual First Date

If you thought app-dating was weird before, try doing it in a world that’s self-isolating. No matter how witty your Bumble banter gets, you still have no idea when you’ll actually get to meet this person, so your first date may very well take place via FaceTime. So, how do you dress so that you look like you tried just enough, but not too much? The answer lies somewhere between a bathrobe and a cocktail dress. We’d go with a comfy but polished top, like the Fey or the Barbara. Or try a bold color (to bring out your eyes on screen). And if you haven’t worn jewelry for weeks, now’s the time to don some fun earrings.

The Spontaneous Midday Dance Party

You just realized you’ve been sitting in the same position (hunched over your laptop) for three hours when your favorite song comes on. You hop up, regain feeling in your legs, start to dance, and realize how badly you needed this. Don’t stop there. Slide into some saucy heels, put on a flowy dress, and pretend you’re actually at a party. Your work can wait—this groove can’t.

Staring Wistfully Out the Window

Are we the only ones who keep catching ourselves doing this? Never in our lives have we had so much time to quietly ponder. It’s like we’re in a Jane Austen novel, with our biggest activity of the day being “taking some air” or enjoying “a turn about the grounds.” It’s bizarre, but it’s always cozier when you do it wearing the Angelou shawl, the Foster pant, and some comfy sneaks.

Tory Hoen

Written By

Tory Hoen

Tory Hoen is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. She spent five years as the Creative Director of Brand at MM.LaFleur (where she founded The M Dash!) and has written for New York Magazine, Fortune, Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Traveler. She loves doughnuts and inter-species friendships.

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