KahnJunction: Just What The Doctor Ordered

One of the many variations of Benjamin Kahn’s telecommute uniform. Credit: Benjamin Kahn, UB Post.

First, it came for the toilet paper. Suppliers were caught empty-handed with their pants down  before more could be rolled out. Then, it came for our jobs and, all of a sudden, like the partner who forgot that anniversary, people all over America found themselves living on the couch. 

Now, in our final hours, COVID-19 is coming for America’s ability to give a shit. 

No, I’m not still talking about the toilet paper. 

It’s even worse: it has come for the enthusiasm and passion of American workers. Non-essential personnel all over the country find themselves in self-isolation, and have been told not to leave their house or apartment unless absolutely necessary. This has taken a toll on all of us.

With these quarantines, unforeseen problems are beginning to reveal themselves. One issue that isn’t garnering enough attention, however, is style. I know what you’re thinking, “Ben, how I dress is literally the last thing on my mind–it’s just me, my cat, and my 70 rolls of stockpiled toilet paper in my apartment–why should I care about how I dress?” 

I’m so glad you asked.

I’ve been just like you, for the past month or so, navigating the world of telecommuting.  Believe it or not, I do have a real job–surprisingly, writing a weekly piece for a college paper does not cover rent. Every morning I get up, put a t-shirt on, slide into some sweatpants, and slip on my slippers (if I’m feeling bougie). I then go and sit in front of my laptop for 7-8 hours and wish I was doing basically anything but exactly what I’m doing. I slowly feel the ability to give a shit slipping from my grasp.

Prior to the pandemic, going to work involved a commute to Washington via MARC train with a 16 or so odd block walk to the office. My morning prep routine was more complicated (and longer): wake up, suit and tie, trainers (Oxfords are under my desk at work), lengthy commute, and sitting at my desktop for 7-8 hours and wishing I was doing anything but exactly what I was doing. 

But guess what? During this time, I felt like I had a purpose.

Notice the only habits I am repeating are what I find to be the worst part of my work day–the actual work. 

Now with telecommuting, my walk to and from work is gone limiting my exercise.  Unless I make a special effort (or my roommates chase me out the door), I’m not really getting any fresh air. 

Also, the suit and tie are out the window and while I never enjoyed dressing formally for work, it gave me something to be proud of. Putting together an outfit is something I enjoy–from the suit to the belt, shoes, and a nice pair of cufflinks⸺that’s the stuff I enjoy showing off. 

Research from more than 10 years back illustrates that your work outfit DOES impact your mood. So, during this time when the lines between home and work are becoming more blurred than ever, for the love of G-d, please put some effort into your outfits now! 

Look, virtually no one enjoys self-isolation. Take it from me, a guy who started self-isolating a month before his state instituted it and has stared into the abyss of loneliness to only notice it looking back. 

Consider the following a prescription for the rest of the pandemic:

  1. Stay inside. 
  2. Wash your hands. 
  3. Don’t touch your face. 
  4. Dress to impress. 

Don’t worry, I’ll actually practice what I preach. 

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting a photo of my outfit every day, and I challenge you to do the same. Check me out on Instagram, and start posting your own outfits!

Benjamin Kahn is a senior writer at the UB Post. He writes a weekly column, KahnJunction.

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