For my first 20-plus years as a long-term care psychologist, I arrived on the job wearing not just clothes, but outfits. I chose garb that contributed to the sense of “expertness, attractiveness, and trustworthiness” that psychologists were supposed to engender in their patients.
Sometimes I wore pantsuits or dresses, more often skirts or slacks with coordinating sweaters, jewelry, and eye shadow. Pumps or heeled boots in the winter, open-back wedges in the summer. In my mind, I had an obligation to the residents to be a mini-fashion show, a break from the monotony of uniforms. I was fancy.
Then came the pandemic.
The surgical masks arrived, then the surge, followed by N95s, face shields, and clothing that could be immediately stripped, bagged, and tossed in the wash after every wear.
Heels became absurd. Outfits? In the middle of a pandemic? No.
At first, I wore hideous sneakers I found in the back of the closet from when I used to go to the gym before starting a family. Then I switched to blue clogs.
Did you hear the angels sing when I mentioned the blue clogs or was that just me? It was the angels lauding the comfort of clogs over heeled shoes.
I wore pants I didn’t care about much and ordered my first pair of scrubs online. They were a bit large, but they had pockets, lots of pockets. Angels sing about pockets too.
It was a miserable time in the nursing home. I added a signature flashy disco hat to combat the misery and to distinguish myself from coworkers who were equally enveloped in PPE.