The Chic List: The joy of the human touch

Been feeling a little odd since some lockdown restrictions were lifted? Me, too.

And it’s not remotely surprising. All five of our precious human senses have been massively curtailed for well over a year as we’ve been held hostage in our homes with little or nothing new to see, hear, smell, taste or touch.

Joanne Hegarty
Chic separates for dinner out – blazer by Amanda Wakeley, shirt by Valle & Vik and trousers from By Malene Birger. Image: Mollie Manning

No fresh experiences to broaden our minds, to ravish our imaginations, to bring a magical glow to our cheeks.

The human touch was more or less outlawed. So it’s natural that many of us have been left feeling wobbly and off-balance.

I had an hour-long massage this week and, to my surprise, it made me well up with tears.

Not tears of sadness or trepidation – there have been enough of those – but with the pure, unbridled joy of having a professional’s hands on my neck and shoulders, rubbing and pummelling an entire year of pent-up anxiety out of my body.

I closed my eyes and melted deliriously away, listening to lapping waves – the closest I, like you, have got to real ones in a very long time. That hour was the most relaxed I have felt for more than 12 months.

In pre-Covid life I was more of a lone shopper, quietly enjoying doing my own thing. Suddenly I’m a chatty customer, making excited declarations of love about a new-season caramel sweater from Joseph (see below, which I couldn’t stop touching) and sharing my delight at how the clean line of the polo shirt – the long-sleeve ones are much more flattering, by the way – has been reinvented and embraced by the fashion world.

I even found myself touching the four small walls of a dressing room – not even a terribly attractive one – as if they were some sort of miraculous mirage. Online shopping is a convenient beast, but it doesn’t replace the thrill of the touch.

My favourite dress-up combinations for eating outdoors have been knitted dresses (so joyous to be back in a frock!) layered with a coat, and teamed with a piece of statement jewellery and heels. Alfresco dining has made me relish the oversized wool or cashmere knit all over again. And I have been wearing them over favourite dresses to keep out the chills.

When the novelty of the dress reunion wears off, I am planning to lean on chic trouser, blazer or cosy long cardigan combinations.

blue dress

Dress, £49.99, zara.com

I love this mint shade. Raise its game with gold jewellery.

gold earrings

Earrings, £170, Alighieri, harveynichols.com

Team with summer’s pastel shades or crisp whites.

trousers

Trousers, £180, bymalenebirger.com

The adjustable ankle slits on these will show off your heels.

camel jumper

Jumper, £395, Joseph, matchesfashion.com

Layer this fuzzy knit over dresses for dinners outside.

handbag

Bag, £175, thisisstelar.com

So chic and made by artisans in Bali.

blazer

Blazer, £79.99, mango.com

Just add white jeans and oversized sunnies.

sandal

Follow me on Instagram @thestylistandthewardrobe.