A Fashion Editor’s Take on Dressing During a Pandemic
The dos and don’ts when it comes to your coronavirus wardrobe.
Living through the pretty harrowing experience that was SARS meant that when Covid-19 struck, getting back into hyper-vigilant epidemic prevention mode (this was before this became a pandemic) was pretty easy for a lot of Hong Kong and East Asian people.
Because personal hygiene practices and routines were of such second nature thanks to what we learnt from SARS, it didn’t occur to me that there are many people outside of East Asia who take this disease seriously and want to prepare and protect themselves but have no idea what to do to because they have no experience with epidemics and no place to go for information as their governments are also struggling.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor nor am I a scientist or anybody of professional authority so everything that I suggest below has been arrived at through lived experience and my own family’s daily practice.
My life revolves around clothes so it’s something I’ve really paid attention to. This will apply in varying degrees to people with maybe less OTT wardrobes that are not as dry-clean heavy but the basics are:
- It should withstand washing at high temperatures and bleach/colour bleach
- It should withstand an antiseptic/rubbing alcohol wipe or spray down
Some things that my family and many friends around me have done are as follows:
- Pack away all dry-clean-only clothing and leave only clothes that can withstand a full disinfection/wash process
- Keep a small selection of clothes on rotation so that you limit the amount of personal items (i.e. clothing) that you expose to the virus outdoors
- Limit coats and shoes to three of each in regular rotation so as few items as possible are out in contact with the virus
- Outerwear is best if washable and has a slippery or plastic surface that can be wiped or sprayed down with disinfectant/antiseptic/rubbing alcohol
- If you have to wear clothes that can’t be bleached or washed, then air them where the sun can shine on them for a day before putting aside. These shouldn’t go back into your closet until you’ve had them dry cleaned and disinfected. Also spray whatever it may be with antiseptic. It can be the natural kind of you can’t bear putting rubbing alcohol on it but frankly, why wear it at all right now if you can’t bear possibly ruining it by spraying it clean?
- Avoid shorts and skirts because you want your body to come in as minimal contact to droplets as possible
- If you’re one of those people who freezes their jeans and doesn’t wash them, this is a good time to put those jeans away in your closet. Do not put your jeans in your freezer next to food if you’ve been out in them. Either wash them or just don’t wear ’em.
This means my family have rearranged our wardrobes to use only things that can withstand a full disinfection/wash process. It also means that it’s more important than before to have:
- Bleach for your clothes, be it colour bleach or normal bleach
- Two sets of home only clothes that you change into as soon as you shower and get out of street clothes
- Canvas shoes that can be washed and disinfected. I wear my Supergas out all the time now. I wear leather and sandals minimally (actually this is a lie, I haven’t worn them at all since this thing began). Feet get the dirtiest and you’re inviting coronavirus into your toenails if you wear sandals.
Important for those more susceptible or those who are still flying:
For people who have compromised immune systems, like those with long-term illnesses, the elderly and children, get disposable ponchos or a plastic-based outerwear (e.g. Muji rain jacket) that’s longer and can be sprayed down with rubbing alcohol or antiseptic after coming into contact with the outdoors.
This is an excerpt of a much longer post on How to Protect Yourself During Coronavirus on zanetacheng.com. Click here to read the entire post, including valuable tips on why and how to wear a mask as well as checklists for leaving and returning home.