We Asked Men How Quarantine Affected Their Style

Have Our Style Standards Dropped During Isolation?

We Asked Men How Quarantine Affected Their Style

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 The past six months have felt like a long dry spell for many of us. Due to us all having access to WiFi, a plethora of devices, and strangely being under the impression that if we don’t post for a few days, the cavalry will be called to come and find us, isolation — an act that commonly involves being left alone with one’s thoughts, a good book, and only the people in our immediate circle — has been rebranded. So it could be presumed that the standard of our appearance may be as important now as ever.

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In case you’re wondering why your feed has turned into a playground consisting of baked goods, inspirational quotes, and home-schooled children, it’s likely because most of us are feeling in no fit shape to be regularly posting photos of ourselves. It’s been a while since a lot of us have been to our favorite personal maintenance spots, and if we have it’s likely after waiting in lines reaching far into the social distance.


Lockdown: Time for a Change (of Clothes)


For a few brave souls, this newfound freedom has given opportunity to experiment. Cue social threads of Chris Pine’s lockdown style which include cowboy hats, white Birkenstocks, and leopard print shirts — but it’s not just the Hollywood set who are trialing a new look.

Chris Pine in a mask, Nelly in a mask, Justin Bieber in a maskGetty Images

“I grew a pretty large beard over lockdown and felt myself looking a bit hipstery but still within my standard attire of black jeans and a generic T-shirt,” says 31 year old Lewis, a tech product manager. “I got rid of the beard in the end, as it didn’t suit my lack of a particular style.”

Thankfully most of us have the anonymity to undergo our style trial-and-error in private. Albeit as our homes now contain not only our private lives, but our work and social life too, the exclusivity of sharing our rawest selves in different corners of our houses with friends, followers, and fans feels more intimate than ever.

Patrick, a menswear designer, 43 says his standards have increased and he’s had to take more care of his appearance because he’s been producing more home shoots to communicate to his customers via Instagram.

And while we are hidden in the comfort of our private domains, away from immediate criticism and reeling from a summer ruined by skin hunger — the deprivation of physical affection — it’s evident that it’s taken a toll on us all in one way or another.

It could be argued that some have taken to showing off more of their thirsty selves to advertise their availability as a way to feel connected. Others have secluded themselves away as the loneliness of not being able to speak or touch others, that was once a part of our collective daily routine has been pulled away from us.

“I did find a better balance in lockdown with my body confidence, which I think shows with how quickly I was to just lounge about in swimwear day after day,” says, Luke, a fashion editor, 34 who regularly documents his style online. “I think as well in that time of being away from everything. I realised how to maintain my body better, as there weren’t any excuses about not having time to workout or not having time to cook something from scratch.”


What Are Men’s Standards Toward Their Appearance?


“We think not just with our brains but with our bodies,” said Dr. Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, which is good to remember when thinking about the clothes we often gravitate towards wearing. “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state. So you have to wear it, see it on your body and feel it on your skin for it to influence your psychological processes.”

Gianluca, a content writer, 39 says he felt no big changes, but the need for suits sharply decreased. “As I was on furlough during lockdown, I really didn’t need to get dressed up, but as I was missing that routine I felt that by dressing up in some way and documenting it, gave me a sense of normality amongst the chaos,” Luke added. “Documenting it also made me realize that there were days [when] I wasn’t just lounging around in swimwear all day so as to avoid the washing machine.”

Home workoutGetty Images

The common factors that re-appeared when speaking to men on their standards included body transformations, the lack of tolerance for public criticism, and the new comfort of nonchalant dressing but for a few like Patrick, lockdown reintroduced them to old wardrobe favorites. “Lockdown helped me to ditch the beer so I have actually lost weight. This has unlocked lots of items from my wardrobe that previously I couldn’t fit into!”

While Luke’s wardrobe heavily incorporates dry clean only pieces, he found himself with an internal battle on whether to risk wearing a delicate item and have it sit waiting for his dry cleaners to reopen. So he’s reassessed his outfits, now being drawn to easily-washable items such as cotton, linen, and even workout options.


What Are Men Buying During Lockdown?


According to a survey from finance firm WalletHub, 58 million Americans are spending more money while social distancing and 43% of Americans have participated in “comfort buying” to ease stress. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez rationalised that consumers might be spending more than their means, due to stress and boredom.

RELATED: What Top Menswear Designers Say About Post-COVID Trends

“The surge in videoconferencing has led people to keep up with their physical appearance more than you might think, as some of the most popular spending categories are clothing and beauty products,” explains Gonzalez.

Furthermore, as the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for June 2020 highlighted data that just over 14% of households surveyed are spending their stimulus checks on clothing, signifying that we are either caring about our appearance or have gone through body transformations (for better or for worse) and are in need of clothes which can now accommodate to our new norm form.

So what are men actually spending that money on? All the men we asked confirmed they have made purchases that fall within the current “homeware, activewear, beauty, and basics categories” which are seeing significant surges, Drapers reported.

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Lewis says “I did dually buy some new boxers and socks, both from Superdry. I’m normally happy with Primark but I think I spent more because I spend so much time just in boxers and a dressing gown. So I thought I’d treat myself to something more comfortable and better looking” and there might be a reason behind this as Sarda-Joshi highlighted in the book “Start with Your Sock Drawer: The Simple Guide to Living a Less Cluttered Life,” by Vicky Silverthorn, “that even our underwear and socks can have a strong influence on the way we see ourselves [and] our confidence levels.”

While Barnaby, a digital marketer, 49 says he has bought various casual items including jogging bottoms, rugby shirts, and sweaters from Ralph Lauren along with new boots from Timberland. Luke admits he has also made quite a few purchases including “a lot of Barena trousers (all in relaxed tailored styles), Our Legacy printed shirts, a Loewe khaki parka coat and black crossbody bag, and a few pairs of Nike trainers.”

So if you too have bought basic in the last couple of months you are not alone.“Ordinary fashion goods and basics [non-trend-led styles] are performing better than other categories,” principal fashion analyst at Kantar, Anusha Couttigane told Drapers. “This might mean there is more resilience for casual brands, as long-term basics may do better.”

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Superdry Organic Cotton Classic Boxer Triple Pack in blue, white, and red

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Timberland 6″ Basic Contrast Collar Boot

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So Have Men’s Style Standards Changed?


The answer is yes … and no. It only takes a quick Google search to find the swirling contradictions of how a person’s productivity is linked to the clothes they wear, but lockdown yet again has highlighted how whether you favor workwear or a relaxed WFH attire, you can still perform at the top of your game.

As Gianluca concludes, he took lockdown as an opportunity to wear “classier clothes,” while Luke says his purchases have all been along the same lines, but are more comfortable and wearable around the house. So as we are wrapping up with the warmer months, it’ll be interesting to see how winter affects the shopping and dressing habits of men already quite accustomed to staying indoors.

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