Back in March, I went to visit my mom on Long Island just when things with COVID-19 started getting bad. I figured I would be there for a week tops, but with everything shutting down, I ended up unexpectedly staying for more than five months in quarantine.
I brought a couple of late winter outfits in my carry-on suitcase like sweater dresses and tights that I didn’t end up wearing since quarantine had become a thing. Mostly, I wore old T-shirts and shorts that were still in the closet of my old bedroom, left exactly as it was since my high school days.
It’s the first week since I’ve back in New York City, and I’m still taking precaution since things definitely aren’t back to normal yet. Reflecting on my experiences throughout spring and summer has made me realize that the most important things in life are not material goods. Even for someone who has a minor—okay, major—obsession with new clothes, jewelry, shoes, and all that jazz, the pandemic has taught me the value of health and well-being.
I went through 157 days with barely any belongings from my apartment, and learned to appreciate the things I could reuse and repurpose from the house where I grew up.
I went out for little walks around the block with a face mask on and stayed more than six feet apart from occasional neighbors walking their dogs. At one point, I had been re-wearing the same loungewear, so I raided my mom’s closet and found some cool vintage pieces from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s that she forgot she had.
My mom and I are really close, and one silver lining of the pandemic was getting a chance to spend more quality time with her during quarantine. Usually, the longest I would stay on Long Island would be a weekend, or a week, if it was a holiday. But it was also difficult being away from the city and normal life—the two places are not far in distance, but feels like worlds away. In her double-door wooden closet, we found a peach floral-printed blazer with a matching pencil skirt and a periwinkle floral peplum top. These were from Hong Kong when she went to visit my aunt in the ‘80s.
Clothing can be emotional—I know that for me, wearing an outfit I like and am comfortable in makes a huge difference in my mood. These past few months have been harder than I could have even imagined, but finding joy in the little things really helps. In a way, having that mother-daughter moment of turning my mom’s bedroom into a fitting room and laughing over how some pieces looked ridiculous on me (like the oversized pair of white Stefano International pants) strengthened our bond.
Good thing some of her vintage finds did fit, like a floral-printed matching set and a denim jean jacket. I styled most of these outfits with my accessories (sunglasses, headbands, and bags from my closet and suitcase) and kept it simple.
Now that fall is just around the corner, I’m taking this “less is more” mentality with me. With a small bedroom in the city and a garment rack that’s on the verge of a breakdown, I’m being more mindful of my shopping habits moving forward—especially since I’m still not going out as much.
I brought some of these vintage pieces back with me since it can also be styled with a few layers to transition into chillier weather. If you, on the other hand, are up for some shopping, check out some similar pieces linked above—they’re not vintage, but are pretty versatile to get many uses out of.
What’s one of your favorite clothing pieces that you wear over and over again?