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My journey from suits to tights, high heels to sneakers

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 03, 2021 5:00 am

“From suits to tights” is a metaphor for my life right now. It represents my current transformation. Another one is “from high heels to sneakers.”

For over 30 years, I worked in the hospitality industry (I started really young, okay?), and wore suits, heels, parlor blow-dried hair, makeup, painted nails — a polished corporate look. I am not kidding when I say that I could have run on the treadmill with four-inch shoes. My feet then had an unusually elevated arch, like a ballerina in a business setting.

Of course, in those years, my wardrobe evolved. I first wore conservative suits, then personalized the look and went with trends. There was a time my skirts were short — too short — but it was still part of a suit. I wore pumps, stilettos, wedge type shoes, peep toes, and sling backs. I would also accessorize, anything to add pizzazz to plain business attire.

There was a gym one floor above me in the hotel where I used to work, and the membership was free. Did I work out in the nine years I was connected to the company? Never.

Then I slowly moved to tailored dresses, which I preferred because it was simply more comfortable and didn’t bore me. It made me express my individuality as well. Since I dressed corporate for five or six days a week for years, I did not know how to do a casual look. I didn’t even own sneakers.

Then the pandemic hit and changed everyone. I don’t think there is a soul out there who hasn’t been affected by it in any sense. For me, it slowly made me move away from my previous life and shed what I felt was not me anymore. I will forever mark my time as BC (before COVID) and AC (after COVID).

Staying home all day because of the pandemic makes one a lot less physically active.

Let me be honest and say that I loathe exercise. I am not one of those fitness and health buffs and won’t pretend to be. I will happily live on Cheetos, Lay’s Salt & Vinegar potato chips, and red velvet cupcakes.

There was a gym one floor above me in the hotel where I used to work, and the membership was free. Did I work out in the nine years I was connected to the company? Never. My exercise consisted of walking around the property in my, you guessed it, high heels. I did a lot of this not to consciously have physical activity. It was part of my job. I wasn’t glued to my desk.

It’s not that I haven’t made an effort to exercise, though. I tried yoga. I had private lessons in my house before because I thought it was more my speed, but I would fall asleep on the mat at the end of each session. Nakakahiya to my teacher.

Trading corporate attire for active wear has turned out to be a life-changing experience.

I am surprised that I am loving staying at home. I have never stayed home for such a long period of time. My days are clean slates, unlike before where everything was scheduled months ahead. A life of schedules and deadlines makes one rigid, you know. I plan to shatter this inflexibility and my being de kahon.

Amazingly, my blank-slate days are so productive and even meaningful. Finally, I can attend to and organize things I was too busy to do. This includes connecting with old friends and family. Time is really affluence.

Now I revel as to why I am starting to wear tights. Well, not really tights but active wear. Though I am really enjoying staying home, I feel like physical activity is lacking. So I got myself a treadmill and started walking for 45 minutes a day. But I do this wearing a duster and no shoes. What a sight! A losyang workout look. Nakaka-turn off. I can’t wear this ridiculous getup.

I am slowly getting out of my hibernation and I long for wide, open spaces. I now walk outdoors. You can say they are baby steps. I have ordered these running outfits online, all this Dri-Fit stuff, jogging tights, walking rubber shoes.

Who am I? I really don’t know at this point. I am just observing this change that not only is on the exterior, but I believe runs deep. There’s a life shift going on here — and it is happening as I wear sneakers.