With the weather improving, and some hope of getting out and about before Christmas, I’ve started to gear myself up for life out of lockdown.
The first thing I’m doing is more exercise. I’ve managed about 7,000 paces daily while in lockdown, which is a reasonable effort given the constraints. On top of that, I’ve done sundry exercise. But I’ve also eaten well and my general appearance hasn’t been foremost in my my mind – evidence, my hair.
It’s got to the point that it matters more. It’s a funny thing. When I was working every day and putting on a suit and doing all the conventional stuff I used to crave letting myself go. I would imagine some variation of isolation – manning a lighthouse, say – where I could let my hair grow and my beard flourish and dress for comfort more than style. It wasn’t just a matter of lazy convenience, it spoke to me in a more primal sense. It seemed truer to me, more authentic. Such is the vanity of men.
I’ve let that happen, more or less, over the last 6 months. My hair is long and wavy. I don’t have the beard I had earlier in the situation, but it’s generally about 10 days between shaves. And I get around in jeans and comfy knits through the winter, and t-shirts as it warms up.
What I miss now is a sense of style, and my true sense of self, and the vanity wrapped up in that, has begun to assert itself.
When I was younger and doing the rounds I used to think of myself as a kind of corporate bohemian. By that, I figured I had a serious job and a good suit, of which I was proud, but I also had an attitude. The attitude would manifest itself in my outlook and wit, and a slightly rebellious, vaguely outspoken nature. It was in my personal style too. I always liked clothes and fashion and invested in good quality stuff that bespoke a kind of masculine, sometimes elegant, occasionally rustic, dandy. I didn’t mind standing out – in fact, I enjoyed it.
I’m not at that stage now, but I feel a desire to express myself more definitively, as I did then. I’ve been well dressed throughout my career, even in more recent times when it’s been tougher – but it’s been more subdued. Now I feel like re-asserting a personal brand based on style and maybe a little attitude, like before.
Part of that is getting myself trim for the summer months, and so I’ve added a bit more exercise to my routine and made an effort to eat more sensibly. I do a set of push-ups, squats, and even starjumps every day to get my heart rate going. I’ll eat when I’m hungry and not just because it’s there.
When we’re out of lockdown I’ve got a decision to make about my hair, but I’m inclined to get it cut. Long hair has always felt like freedom to me. It symbolised the very attitude I speak of – slightly irreverent and independent. At the end of the day, it’s just hair, and right now it’s thick and wavy.
It may seem a bit trivial, even self-indulgent, but I think it’s important to mark the transition from self-denial to self-expression. We’ve endured this time and we deserve, and may even need, an outlet that is personal.
For me, it means I want to look good, if only in my own mind. I’ve survived, this is my reward, and this is the self I want to stand for. Wry wit and a confident style, that’s the go.