How Do We Dress Comfortably When Nobody's Really Comfortable?

Photographer: Eric HelgasProduct Credit: Zara tie dye top, AMO jeansRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No print or advertising.
POPSUGAR Photography | Eric Helgas
POPSUGAR Photography | Eric Helgas
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As I scroll through my favorite sites right now, all I'm seeing are spotlights on sweatpants and sweatshirts, workout clothes, and loungewear. Since we're not around anyone besides the people we live with right now, it's an excuse to get cozy and comfortable. For me, sweatpants are certainly comfortable clothing, but I don't feel like myself when I wear them. If that's the case, then it begs the question: in a time where comfort is king, what does dressing comfortably actually mean?

My general aversion to sweatpants comes from my mother, who worked in fashion and was always dressed. One day, in middle school when I forgot my lunch, my mom dropped it off for me in a blue dress, strappy stilettos, and a pretty major turquoise necklace. She was on her way to a meeting, but I'll never forget how powerful and beautiful she looked. Both my parents always taught me that if I wanted to command respect, one of the easiest ways to do that was in how I presented myself. Clothes became my armor, and my way to express how I felt. To me, there's really nothing that feels better than the confidence that comes with a good outfit.

In a time where comfort is king, what does dressing comfortably actually mean?

I also grew up in the age of athleisure, and especially as someone who likes to work out, I love a great legging. The evolution that workout clothes have had in recent years is incredible; gone are the days of ratty t-shirts and baggy gym shorts. But, if I had brunch plans with a friend, I would time my workout so that I could shower and change before our meal. I don't like to do too much in my workout clothes besides working out. I see getting dressed for an appointment as an act of respect for the other person. To be clear, this isn't a war on sweatpants but, rather, a commitment to not giving up your personal style. If you feel awesome in sweatpants, please, go on living your best life.

I see sweatpants as the comfort food I never had as a child, and thereby don't crave as an adult. In a time of great uncertainty, where we're all looking for both literal and metaphorical comfort food, I'm finding solace in the clothes I've always loved. I may not have a place to wear them right now, but that won't always be the case. And at the moment, I may not have any appointments to go to, but I'm still showing up, as an act of self-respect. On mornings where I wake up late, I put on my workout clothes, because they inspire me to get moving after work. On Thursday I grabbed a beloved t-shirt dress that was soft and feminine. Last night, after I worked out, I put on jeans and a striped t-shirt for dinner, a go-to outfit for me. It wasn't much, but it was everything.