The past few months have seen a change in our lives that no one could have ever predicted. Once busy and bustling, our days were forced to slow down with working from home becoming the new normal. As the virus affected each and every one of us, it is valuable to share stories of how we survived and embraced the uncertain period. We spoke to young professional in men’s fashion, Benedict Browne, how a man-about-town like himself coped with isolation…
With an astute understanding of style and craftsmanship, Benedict Browne is recognised as an authoritative voice in the men’s fashion and lifestyle sector. As a published journalist, stylist and consultant, Benedict has written for and worked with an impressive portfolio of publications and brands, including The Evening Standard, Gentleman’s Journal, Mr Porter and Budd Shirtmakers, to name a few.
Now that staying at home has become the new normal, how has your routine changed?
Not a great deal, to be honest. I’ve been freelance for a year now and have gotten used to this working from home malarky – I really enjoy it and I’m more productive than I was in an office. The only thing that’s changed is less meetings, store appointments, what have you. That’s a downside to the situation for sure, and perhaps those spontaneous, mid-week evening drinks with mates, colleagues, clients etc.
What has been the main challenge for you during this period and how did you overcome it?
Like everyone, it’s probably staying motivated. Each day is relatively the same, but I try and keep to a routine each morning to keep things ticking over. It sounds small, but also creating lengthy to-do lists helps me massively. I break them down into short, medium and long tasks and each Monday I’ll look back on the previous week’s accomplishments. See what I did gives you a little boost to top it that week – I like to think of them as little gains. I get up between 05.30am and 06.00am each morning, and immediately go for a run or go to the gym and that gives me all the motivation I need to get the day rolling. That’s a non-negotiable for me.
Loneliness has affected all of us in one way or another during isolation… How did you embrace solitude?
I don’t think I saw anyone for 10 to 12 weeks. And to be honest, I didn’t mind it. It really wasn’t that bad. Like everyone I just FaceTimed and Zoomed people a lot (I never used FaceTime prior to Covid, but now I love it). I’ve got a big family, so even speaking to one of them each day made a difference. I mainly embraced it by just throwing myself into my work – it’s sink or swim being freelance, especially during a pandemic – as what else was there to do? Sit there and mope about the house? I was very fortunate to have a roof over my head, money to feed myself, a job to keep busy in and open, green spaces to play in.
Self-care and pampering is one of the most beneficial ways to relax. How did you make time for yourself?
I’ve been into all of that for some time now – it started when I was a teenager and my routine hasn’t changed much, maybe only upgrading the products every few years. Finding time wasn’t difficult, after all we’ve all got more time at home than ever before. I do think grooming is one of the key areas in life that you should be investing in though (in addition to shoes and outerwear). So, a top-quality cleanser, face serum, night cream and moisturiser are must-haves and should be applied twice daily (serum morning, night cream… at night). I spray a bit of aftershave on whenever I leave the house, but I mix it up according to how I’m feeling and what I’m wearing. If it’s s*** weather, something moody and musky. If it’s nice out, something upbeat and floral.
Featured products from our iconic No.88 collection. Top left: No.88 Cologne 50ml, top right: No.88 EdP 200ml, bottom: No.88 Shaving Dish and Soap as part of the No.88 Shaving Set & Stand.
You told us that you moved into your new house just as the nation went into lockdown – a perfect opportunity to orchestrate your safe space. How did you go about doing this?
Plenty of help and permanently borrowing bits and bobs from family members to fill the space. I’ve got lots of siblings and once upon a time we all used to live together in a relatively big house, so there’s plenty of old furniture, art, books, etc. to fill it with.
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What is your best advice for people to remain sane and in good spirits during this time?
Fuel yourself with proper food plus lots of water, sleep and exercise. They’re so easily overlooked but are the building blocks in establishing a strong and healthy mindset. I’ve personally just started taking CBD drops each day and have noticed a positive difference in my mood and sleep and definitely recommend it.
Difficult times provoke us to think about what really matters… What key lesson did you learn under lockdown?
I’ve learned who my close mates are and that will be a cherished constant for the rest of my life without a doubt. I’ve learned that looking after yourself comes first and job comes second. It used to be the other way around for me but f*** that, there’s more to life than work.