Pandemic pajamas and society's new lack of style

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

My fashion sense has gone down the tubes during my self-quarantine. I’ve been wearing the same clothes every day. Well, not exactly the same clothes because my wife makes me take them off every now and then so they can be washed.

Instead of a shirt, tie and slacks, I’ve adopted the rugged suburban individualist look: chinos, a Carhartt henley, a fleece vest and slippers.

Even though there’s no dress code in our household, I want to appear presentable, especially when it’s time to teach my public speaking class online. Then, I put on a dress shirt and bow tie to keep up the semblance that society hasn’t completely broken down.

I often wonder what the appropriate style should be nowadays. “WWAWD?” Translation: “What would Anna Wintour do?” Does the demigoddess of fashion and editor-in-chief of Vogue wander around her penthouse in negligees? Are there dress requirements for Vogue employees working from home? These are questions that need to be answered.

At least I’m wearing clothes, which is more than I can say for some people, who wear pajamas all day and shall remain anonymous. In their defense, I’ve noticed they try to mix it up and put on a different pair of PJs at bedtime. It’s certainly more civilized to wear flannel pajamas than your nightie or BVDs around the house.

Not everyone holds themselves to such a high standard. In the morning, I see neighbors running out to pick up the newspaper in all sorts of curious outfits or lack thereof. Some are in their bathrobes while others ... I won’t go there in case they read this. Besides, I don’t want to be accused of being a peeping tom.

Temptation is everywhere. The other day as I sat in solitary confinement in my bedroom, staring out at the neighborhood, a red-bellied woodpecker and its mate alighted on the telephone wire across the street. It was a perfect opportunity to do some birdwatching, so I reached for my binoculars.

As I watched their mating ritual, I realized I was staring into my neighbor’s bedroom window ... and she was staring back. I hid those binoculars faster than you could say “John James Audubon” or “yellow-bellied sapsucker.” I expected the police to race up the street with sirens blaring to take me away in cuffs and confiscate my binoculars as evidence. Fortunately, the cops had better, or worse, things to occupy themselves with. To tell the truth, if I went before the judge, I’d be forced to plead nolo contendere.

During these difficult times, my second rule of etiquette has become “Watch where you point your binoculars.” (My first rule is “wear clothes.”) Now, I point them out the back window, where there’s only woods and no neighbors in pajamas, as far as I can tell.

Some family members and friends have adopted equally peculiar practices and stopped showering every morning because they don’t have to go into work. To my thinking, that’s not a good idea unless you want to conserve water. During the Middle Ages, people bathed once a week or less, and Saint Fintan of Clonenagh, an Irish monk, took a bath only once a year, right before Easter. Penitential practices aside, I don’t think we should go back to that way of life.

Instead of regular showers, some people have substituted other habits, such as watching the news 24-7 or binge-watching “Game of Thrones” for the umpteenth time. A shower or two might do more to raise their spirits.

Staying home has always been penance for me because I’m afflicted with what my mother called “the gypsy gene.” At the crack of dawn, I’d get up, get dressed and get out even if I didn’t know where I was going. Those days are gone.

I don’t want to be like the dim-witted celebrities who wander around the Hamptons and Hollywood as if they’re a protected species and have the right to spread germs everywhere. No, I don’t want to do that, so someone, please hand me my binoculars.

Joe Pisani can be reached at