Fashion & Beauty

What We’re Wearing . . . for the Pandemic

WE’RE CURIOUS—about what you’re wearing these days. We keep reading that people are living in their sweats or that they’re just sick and tired of them.

• Are you—living in your sweats or fed up with them?

• Do you get cleaned up (sort of) and wear eye makeup to go to the supermarket? Is there one piece of jewelry or clothing you wear to prove to yourself that you haven’t given up?

• If you’re wearing sweatpants, do you feel better dressed as long as your nails are manicured or you have mascara on?

• Are you buying any new clothes, shoes, etc.—in stores or online?


Thank you, all, for your responses. We love having conversations with our readers. Here’s what we found out: It looks as if we’ve passed the sweatshirts- and sweatpants-wearing stage. Although you didn’t say you were sick of sweats, only one of you mentioned you were wearing them. But you are wearing eye makeup (including brow gel) and rings, earrings and necklaces. Lipstick, you say, is mostly reserved for Zoom calls, but some of you can’t get used to living without it. The majority of you are keeping your nails au naturel, instead of having manicures. Some of you have ventured into stores—briefly, but buying online is your preference.

See below for the full text of answers to our questions and what you’ve been buying or have had your eye on in the last few months.

—MyLittleBird Staff



LEFT: No matter what else she has on, our own Nancy McKeon says she wears her yellow-gold and onyx Vintage Alhambra Necklace (Van Cleef & Arpels) every day, even if it’s under a shirt. She tells herself she’s doing it to amortize the cost of the thing but thinks she’s really doing it just to try to be civilized. Maybe it’s also her lucky charm(s). RIGHT: Ada Polla, CEO of skincare company Alchimie Forever, had given up wearing bright lipstick a few months ago.  She recently discovered Westman Atelier’s Lip Suede (a palette of tomato, brick red, dusty rose and vivid fuchsia shades, $85, Violet Grey). Wearing it makes her feel like herself again. 


Nancy G: After literally spending at least a month and a half not leaving the house even to go get the mail, and in nothing but sweats (which I did wash periodically), as soon as I felt safe enough to venture out into the world I started getting dressed by mid-morning. “Dressed” meant, for the most part, one of my many pairs of jeans, in various styles, and a sweater or T-shirt.  If I was going to the office, occasionally I’d put on a dress, or a nice button down with my jeans.  Once in a while I’ll put on a pair of black pants.  I got really tired of not dressing, so now I’ll actually think about what I’m wearing for the day, whether I’m going outside the house or not, even to the grocery store.  I’ll put on my watch, wedding band (which I take off at night for some reason), and earrings, and a necklace of some sort. Recently, that’s been a gold pendant I purchased in Israel decades ago, sometimes layered with something else.  As for makeup, since we’re wearing masks, all I’m doing is my eyes and eyebrows. About a month ago, a few friends and I hit Loft, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Anthropologie. Just touching new clothing on a rack was such a treat. Masks worn everywhere, hand sanitizer all over the clothing stores (not Bed Bath & Beyond, though), and “gate keepers” at the doors to limit the number of people inside. At Loft they told us they steamed anything from the dressing rooms not purchased, and put them in the back for at least 24 hours before putting them back on the floor.  I’ve purchased things online, but not clothing, more makeup and stuff for the house and the grandkids.  And I’ve gotten two pedicures and one haircut—such luxury!


ABOVE: This gold-filled Vote Necklace ($27.65, Etsy), à la Michelle Obama, spells out the most important message of the moment. Carol Lichty wears hers 24/7. 

Carol L.: During the warm weather, my uniform was my favorite denim shorts and a colorful T-shirt.  I did get a supply (per your instructions) of nice white T’s, too! Now I am back to a couple of favorite jeans with a weather appropriate T-shirt.  I have my favorite zip-up hoodie for cool mornings.

I have only put on makeup for my occasional work Zoom meeting or on the rare occasion when we go for outdoor dining. No lipstick, what’s the point?  I never go out anywhere without earrings! And now 24/7 I wear my VOTE necklace like Michele Obama’s that I found on Etsy.  I’ve been to a retail store a couple of times, usually for something specific I need, and I get in and out ASAP.  Although I make my way through the sale racks just in case there’s a super bargain. Talbots, Anthropologie, Bed Bath and Beyond and, of course, Marshalls!!

Before I got my first pedicure end of May, I purchased a few pair of nice casual shoes to cover my toes (I like Toms and Keds).



LEFT: Our fab former colleague at the Washington Post, the impeccably groomed Jura Koncius, opts for Eileen Fisher’s System Viscose Jersey Ankle Leggings ($88) as the base of her WFH uniform. CENTER: It’s a sweater, it’s a fleece. However you describe it, this wool-poly blend Quarter-Zip Pullover ($118, Anthropologie) is just the kind of item you can wear over and over again. I’m tempted. RIGHT: Another great pal of ours (and former WAPO arts editor), Christine Ledbetter, is all for comfortable clothes, and to keep up her fashion cred, stylish ones, too, like these Cheetah Silk Pants ($295, ATM Collection) she sprang for. 


Jura K.: I live in Eileen Fisher black leggings. For my fall top ensemble, the rotation will be black or gray cotton turtlenecks from Lands End—the ones with the cuff and the tight neck fit—worn sort of just naturally warming the neck not folded down. A long denim shirt from Chico’s or sweaters or fleece vests will fill out my everyday outfit.

No makeup. Lipstick is my favorite cosmetic, but there is no way you can wear that with a mask and not get it all over your mask. I do wear lipstick for Zooms.

I wear my thick Elsa Peretti sterling silver Tiffany doughnut bangle, which was a gift to me from my husband for my 40th birthday and which is my good luck talisman.

I do not own sweatpants. My nails, which were professionally manicured weekly for 40 years, are now bare and looking so pink and healthy. I wear suede loafers with no socks daily. I do not go to clothing stores. I have bought a few new things from Eileen Fisher, Chico’s and Lands’ End.


Christine: I’m wearing a lot of loose clothes, because why wear skinny jeans? Just bought ATM Cheetah print silk pull-on pants as my concession to a little style. Barely wear earrings anymore, and I have double piercings. I do my eyes if I’m going out, but that’s like three times a week these days.

I’m finding my Vogue magazine increasingly irrelevant.


ABOVE: Even if you’re not wearing makeup, groomed brows frame your face. A pomade like Boy Brow ($16, Glossier) shapes, fluffs and keeps them in place. Available in five shades, including auburn and clear.


Ada P.: I have never lived in sweats, and COVID-19 has not changed that.

I get dressed every day in black jeans and a black shirt or a crisp white button down. Sometimes a black dress. For WFH or for the grocery store. My more casual days are weekend days. I have moved to more casual foot wear, flip-flops during the summer and Converse this time of year (I tell myself I’m channeling Kamala) instead of my usual stilettos. I still wear earrings and rings every day. Yes to fashion sneakers. I still wear mascara and eyebrow gel everyday. I gave up on bright red lipstick for a few months (which I usually wear every day) but have started back (thanks to Westman Atelier’s Suede Lip palette), and I definitely feel more like myself. No clothing purchases in many months, but I will need to replenish black T-shirts soon—online.



LEFT: Sure you can wear your slippers all day, but MLB Art Director Kathy Legg says Keds are her go-to shoe. These Crashback Leather  ($59.95) slip-ons are as comfy as slippers and signal to yourself that you’re dressed and ready for the day.  RIGHT: Combat boots are ubiquitous this fall. And this Fly London Salv Chelsea-style bootie ($140, Zappos) is über-comfortable, according to our gardening guru Stephanie Cavanaugh. 


Kathy L: Having spent 99 percent of my time at the farm (where I mostly wear rags even in the best of times) since all this began I’ve thought very little about how I look and done even less about it.

The few times we’ve gone out to eat with friends here I have gone with the whole nine-yard makeup routine and admit it does make me feel “normal” for that brief, three-hour period of eating and chatting. Otherwise, nada, zip, nil. The supermarket has to take me as I am, sans makeup, jewelry or any other type of adornment. However, I feel the need to explain, so as not to upset Dr. Fauci, the only restaurant to which we have gone, with the same couple each time, formerly was the dining room of a Holiday Inn that years ago became a Quality Inn. It isn’t pretty and the food is bad, but the drinks are cheap and, best of all, no one goes there. Social distancing is never an issue. It’s just the four of us and the waitress.

The one thing I refuse to ignore is my hair. I make the pilgrimage to DC every two months for a cut and color. Some things just are not negotiable.

Still no manicures or pedicures and none forthcoming for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, I have strong nails and am fairly proficient at shaping them. And my slip-on Keds (see above) remain the sneaker of choice. Every year I buy a new black pair and a white pair and throw away the previous year’s dilapidated ones.

I’ve been in one clothing store, Chico’s, and bought yet another pair of white slacks and black slacks (the only colors I wear). I’m trying to rival the 70 pairs of black pants Nancy uncovered from various closets when she moved. The only other clothing purchases have been more white T-shirts from Gap online. It’s basically a standing order.

Oh yes, I ordered two of the products you included in last week’s post. Two of the serums. Probably overkill, but who cares.

Stephanie C.: Having worked from home for 20-plus years, I’ve never needed office wear. I do have a uniform, though. Black yoga pants and a black cashmere turtleneck for fall and winter. I discovered London Fly combat boots last year and find them amazingly comfortable. I have horrible arthritis in my big toes AND bunions, but hate being SHORT. The LF booties have a nice wedge that gets me up a couple of inches, they’re very well padded and the leather is soft—a hallelujah find.

My jewelry is generally pretty big, loud . . . eccentric, so I save it for evening events (or what passes for evening events right now). But I always wear my dad’s ring. A white gold band that he had set with a 2 carat diamond that was my grandmother’s, so it has lots of meaning—and, as it only fits on my middle finger, when I raise the digit, it really resonates.

Mary F.: I get dressed every day in chinos and a shirt even though I work from home. Sometimes I wear jeans but I chose to never wear sweatpants. I always wear my diamond earrings and a little necklace. If I run out I put on a little lipstick for no reason because I am always wearing a mask.

I discovered I like Joe’s Jeans so I ordered a couple of pair from Nordstrom’s. I did buy a few tops which sometimes has me going inside a store to do an exchange which means I have to sneak a look and replace it with another one. I don’t know about other areas but in Montgomery County the dressing rooms are closed.

Caren: I am so boring in what I am wearing.  Tennis or golf clothes, then jeans or sweats for the evening after I shower. If my husband isn’t home for dinner I go straight for PJs. I seldom go out and the dogs could care less how I look.

Abigail C.: Sweats just mean you’re eating too much and embracing slothdom. Not a good place to reside in with everything else going on out there. I go to the supermarket right after my 6:10am solid core class, so no makeup and at the beginning of the day, no one is there. Great time to get essentials.

I wear my favorite earrings all the time and occasionally put on my silver ID necklace that looks like a Tiffany one.

I do love to have my nails done regularly (every three weeks—a gel change). It makes you feel special and complete.

No new clothes, just thrifting stuff — a sweater, jacket and perfect Adidas pants, classic pieces I’ll have for many years to come. And, I am getting all my boots resoled and polished for the fall. Makes such a difference.




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7 thoughts on “What We’re Wearing . . . for the Pandemic

  1. Kathy Legg says:

    You can’t go wrong with Keds! Although I’ve never tried the leather. I like being able to throw them in the washing machine when they get really disgusting, which the white ones do almost immediately.

  2. Nancy McKeon says:

    Kathy Legg, I just bought a pair of those black leather Keds—they arrived yesterday. I’m wearing them already—they’re great. I may buy more.

  3. Nancy G says:

    I love hearing from everyone on these essential topics! And I relate to the 70 pairs of black pants, or even the 37 pairs. Since I’ve basically retired, and no one is actually going into court anymore anyway, I wonder what to do with all my black suits, which are a totally separate category than all my black pants.

  4. Carol says:

    Thanks Janet! Always good to commiserate and connect.

  5. Kathy Legg says:

    So sorry. I do tend to exaggerate. Perhaps I was confusing your pants with the 70 or so pairs of black shoes I once counted in my closet.

    1. Nancy McKeon says:


  6. Nancy McKeon says:

    Kathy, don’t exaggerate, the truth is bad enough! I had about 37 pairs of black pants before I moved, not 70. I like to think even I might have noticed 70 pairs.

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