With respect to getting dressed during the pandemic, one legitimately wonders: Why bother? To address that and other style questions in our current time, as well as talking about his latest show and more of his personal and professional history, Tim Gunn, one of my favorite voices in the style universe, graced our ears again on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Under our current stay-at-home conditions with the coronavirus, Terry wondered What is the meaning of clothes? Is the meaning of clothes changing?

Gunn described a “clothing evolution” that he’s been experiencing during the pandemic with New York City’s lockdown, staying at home and wearing masks, which kills a look no matter how fabulous the color or pattern is.

I now understand the comfort trap. I used to bemoan it and say ‘If you wanna dress to feel as if you never got out of bed, don’t get out of bed.’ Now I understand. Why should we be self-isolating in clothes that constrain us and constrict us and are not as comfortable as something that’s a little looser and more forgiving.”

Gunn acknowledges that his own drag during the lockdown has featured pajamas and a nice robe while inside his apartment, or a turtleneck and jeans when he steps out, even to take his trash down the hall or go to the first floor to get his mail. On a grocery store run, he has worn a sport coat and a tie, but not always. This is all a considerable downshift for such a well-tailored man who’s famously critical of our culture’s unfortunate hyper-casualization.

He did add, however, that he’s been introduced to video conferencing and that he dresses up for it, as we all should. But after wearing comfy clothes for so many weeks and then suddenly sprucing up again for Zoom meetings, he noticed that his normal “Tim Gunn clothes” felt uncharacteristically constricting, which freaked him out.

The disorienting experience propelled him to personally re-up his game closer to his usual standards and opened him up to a little empathy for others who have fallen into that “comfort trap” – the people who are uncomfortable in nice, proper fitting clothes because they’ve been in clothes that are super comfortable (or too big) for so long.

In the interview, Gunn also acknowledged that this time at home offers a great opportunity to take inventory, whether personal, spiritual or sartorial, and assess what is really important in our respective lives. I couldn’t agree more, as I’ve filled a couple of bags of clothes I haven’t worn in over a year.

One of the many things I admire about Gunn is his vulnerability and his fearlessness in revealing it. He is so refreshingly candid and open about his life, and he’s not shy about sharing the joy, the pain and everything in between that he has experienced on the journey. He gives me hope and reminds me that I’m not a total freak.

Here’s the interview:

ODDLY ENJOYABLE TIDBIT: At one point in the interview, I think you can hear someone vacuuming outside Tim Gunn’s apartment.

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