Introducing: Dressing on the Side- Quarantine clothes and store-bought dopamine

A monthly column about fashion, style, pop culture, current affairs, and how it all intersects

My lockdown began a year ago with a shopping trip (I almost said “last shopping trip” there but even Rand Paul would call that “the big lie” and we’ll get to why in a second). On March 6th, I went to Trader Joe’s and Target, where I bought the last bottle of disinfecting wipes in the Salt Lake Valley, as many frozen mac and cheeses as my ridiculously small freezer will hold, and a cute polka dot blouse to hold me over for what we all thought would be a few weeks.

I’m a homebody. I’m also big enough to admit Day After Tomorrow is one of my favorite movies. So the thought of hunkering down for a few weeks sounded...not terrible. I decided to use the time to get creative with my clothes. For once in my adult life, my style wasn’t dictated by the weather, office temperature, and being professional in an office where VIPs tend to walk past your desk unannounced. I didn’t have to think, “Is this going to be comfortable for 8+ hours?” because I could change any time.

For example, while I don’t think gold lamé leggings or blue lipstick is *against* the office dress code, I don’t know if they are what I want to be wearing when the governor walks by. And those gray flats? Nightmares.

It became a really cool chance to shop my closet, wear things I don’t usually have a chance to. I participated in several Instagram challenges. I was trying new makeup looks. I know lots of people have not worn pants with a button in a year and I say, good on ya. Whatever makes you happy. This was my fun thing that helped me feel connected in a time of such uncertainty. We were all in this together. *cue HSM dance*

And then there seemed to be a shift. Influencers started going on “COVID safe” girl’s trips to Vegas. They were SO SAFE. They always wore masks! Look at all these pictures of the socially distanced group of 20 not wearing masks! They only licked ONE stripper pole! How could they possibly have gotten sick? 

While I know that A LOT of people were (and still are) being safe, staying home, and riding it out—it felt like the whole world was moving on without me.

And that’s really when the *really* shopping began (because let’s be real it was always there).

When I titled this “store-bought dopamine” I’m sure many people thought I meant the kind that came in a little orange bottle (there is some of that too), but what I really meant was the “Add To Cart” induced thrill. If I couldn’t go to the store, I was at least going to get the rush. Those Instagram ads that seemed to know a 70% off sale was enough to make me click. The thrill of adding $300 worth of merchandise to your cart just to type a seemingly magic word into a little box and suddenly it’s $90. THE POWER!!

But that high has been met with a crash too. My brain played out a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m helping the economy! But a bunch of underpaid people still had to make, package, ship, and deliver that cardigan and didn’t have the option to take the day off. I’m donating to charities and organizations helping people right now! But is that enough? THE ENVIRONMENT! FAST FASHION! Should I just be saving money right now? Will I ever be able to buy a house? Is Zillow actually the devil?

Then that package would arrive and I’d feel a little rush of happiness and we’d start all over.

Some quarantine purchases. There are….a lot more where this came from. *Looks up with a half smile* I’m so ashamed. (Whoever gets that movie reference in the comments wins...something. I don’t know. This thing doesn’t have a budget and CLEARLY neither do I.)

As the time went on, shopping became a bit of a crutch to my creativity. I don’t have to think very hard if there’s just something new there. I want to get back to where I was a year ago, this time with science-backed optimism that this will just be a few more months and wearing things that were fun and creative and still comfortable. So it’s time for a change. Meg asked me to write a column about shopping and here I am, first one out of the gate, to say: this month, no shopping. I’m going to get creative with my limited closet*, track my progress over on Instagram (properly named @shelby.buys because I want to torture myself) and will report back here what I found. I’d love for you to come along! In fact, here’s a little prompt to get us through the next 30 days, with a few days for sweats because I’m not a MONSTER.

And to even further prove no monsters here, there’s a prize for participation. And not just any prize. A pair of the chicest pajamas to ever exist. Starting March 15th, everyday you participate and use the tags @HiveMind and #DressingOnTheSide, you’ll be entered to win a pair of West of Breakfast pjs**. So you don’t have to worry about getting dressed while still looking and feeling like the star of a Nora Ephron movie.

Until then, happy putting things in your cart and then closing the tab.

*I’m at my parent’s house where I can be safer from COVID. That means I’m also several hundred miles away from my whole closet. It’s like a capsule wardrobe but for the last six months. Please wear a mask.

Got a style question? I’m a Leo Sun, Pisces Moon, Virgo Rising, INTJ, Enneagram 6 and while I don’t know what any of that means, I think it means I really like giving advice. So at some point along the way here, I’d like to be the “Prudence” to your “Stuck in a Rut.” Want to know, “AITA (Am I The Adult Trying To Wear Juicy Sweats Again?).” Send your style, shopping, fashion, accessible fashion questions to . Or I’ll just make some up. That’s what everyone is doing on Reddit anyway.

Giveaway is not sponsored by West of Breakfast. Winner will be chosen at random on April 12th and notified via social media.