I’ve always relished in the power of self-expressive fashion. Before social distancing and self-isolation, piecing together an outfit was my favorite morning task. That being said, when we started staying home, I enjoyed languidly rotating through my collection of hoodies and sweatpants, if only for the convenience factor. But, after a while, that began to lose its luster and even take a toll on my energy levels at work. Writer’s block reared its ugly head more times than usual, and it became a bit harder for me to stay focused. That’s when I found myself gravitating toward band tees and tour merch.
To give my solid-color hoodies a wide berth, I rummaged through my clothes for something cute, comfy, and energizing. Lo and behold, I extricated a Jimi Hendrix tee that I bought months ago but hadn’t worn yet. After even more digging, I found another shirt with the Voodoo Child printed on the front, as well as a Beyoncé crop tee and a Brockhampton sweatshirt.
It’s quite surprising how these pieces fell by the wayside considering music is my lifeline. One of my bedroom walls is plastered with two giant posters of Jimi rocking out and Kendrick Lamar basking in his “I am the greatest rapper alive” glory. I’ve been teaching myself how to play guitar and the keyboard, as well as throwing Prince-themed dance parties with my roommate. So how did I forget about the small joy of wearing artist-inspired apparel? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that once I started wearing the musical threads, my spirits were instantly lifted.
We don’t know when life will return to normal — or if things will ever be the way they were pre-COVID-19 — but music will always be an unfailing morale-booster and unifying force, whether it’s through a playlist or an outfit of the day.
I don’t know the psychology behind this, but perhaps wearing band tees and tour merch has helped me because it’s an extension of music’s escapism. On days when I feel fatigued by the state of the world, tunes like Jimi’s “Spanish Castle Magic,” Beyoncé and Kendrick’s “Nile,” and Bill Withers’s “Lean on Me” have provided great relief. Dua Lipa’s album Future Nostalgia and Jessie Reyez’s Before Love Came to Kill Us have also powered me through some of the most dreary days. So maybe sporting a shirt that features Queen Bey stunting in a corset with gold chains, drop earrings, and a pair of shades just strengthens that sense of interconnectivity (while spotlighting Beyonce’s incredible style). And, conceivably, throwing on a shirt that immortalizes Jimi’s signature peace sign lets me imagine for a second that all is well.
We don’t know when life will return to normal — or if things will ever be the way they were pre-COVID-19 — but music will always be an unfailing morale-booster and unifying force, whether it’s through a playlist or an outfit of the day. And until we’re able to gather under one roof and jam out at our favorite artists’ live concerts, wearing their merch and supporting their businesses in any way possible — especially those of independent artists — will suffice. Ahead, see which artists I’ve personally kept on heavy repeat during this time, and shop their merch!