I can’t accurately predict what our post-pandemic relationships with fashion and style will be like. One thing I am confident about is that there will be change. For some it will be slight, and simply an acceleration of change that was already underway. For others, the change might be more significant or unexpected.
As I ponder the future fashion and style needs of myself, my clientele, and friends and family, some themes emerge.
1. Sweatpants are Not Forever
I find it hard to believe that loungewear, athleisure, gear, and workout wear will rule supreme. There will be life after sweatpants. Casual comfy cozies that are easy to launder, wear, pack and maintain have gained popularity because of restricted social lifestyles, quarantine, an increase in outdoorsy life, a dire need to exercise, and lots of working from home. This makes complete sense. But things will change when people head back to their pre-pandemic work settings, socialize outside of their homes, and begin normal travel again. Although life in Seattle is still very socially restricted, I already see many more people in non-athletic casual wear, smart casual looks, and dressy attire. People seem to be craving a change in dress, and there is more of that in the pipeline.
That said, I do think that people will have a higher percentage of casual comfy cozies like loungewear, gear and athleisure in their wardrobes because some will continue to work from home, and work out at home, post pandemic.
2. DYOT is Stronger Than Ever
DYOT (Do Your Own Thing) is the most important trend of all. That means we will see it ALL on the street, at home, at work, when we travel, socialize, shop, and go about daily life. Sweatpants, leggings, jeans, ballgowns, faux fur, sheath dresses, suits, sneakers, slides, puffers, capes, boots, sandals, backpacks, satchels, and everything else. Remixed in an individualistic way that works for the wearer because we’ve reached the point where there is no fashionable in or out. Every silhouette and proportional mix can look stylish if it’s worn with conviction, confidence, ease, and is a good fit. Fashion trends are not completely irrelevant, but I do think they are losing their place as an essential component of one’s personal style. Fashion and trends are fun, but style is not dependent on them.
3. Continuing Simplicity
The global pandemic forced us to slow down and simplify many aspects of our fashion and style life, and some of these changes will stick. Maybe that means fewer shopping trips, fewer purchases, a simpler beauty routine, fewer manicures and pedicures, transitioning to naturally coloured hair, a low maintenance hairstyle, a more minimal style, downsizing our wardrobe, wearing fewer accessories, leaving off lipstick, giving up heels, and opting for naked nails. Or perhaps simply becoming less conscious and interested in fashion and style, making do with less, and spending money elsewhere.
4. Amplified Individuality and Authenticity
I’m not alone in doing some soul searching while spending so much more time at home. It’s been a good time to rethink our priorities, and hone in on what really makes us happy and fulfilled. As far as fashion and style goes, it’s given people the opportunity to rediscover what they do and don’t like to wear. People have been dressing for themselves instead of for others and an audience, and might continue doing just that. Or at least evolve their looks into a style that combines components of their pandemic style with how they dressed before the pandemic. The result might be an even more authentic style.
5. Dress Codes Stay Relaxed
Dress codes for the office and for special occasions will relax a little, or a lot, post pandemic. They will still be there, but not as strict as before. You might be able to wear dark jeans, sneakers and sandals to work when previously it was not up to code. Wear a tee or sweatshirt with a pencil skirt instead of a shirt or blouse. Break up a black-from-head-to-toe dress code with a pattern or colour. Weddings will become more casual, and so will going to the ballet, theatre, and socializing on most levels.
6. Sustainability and Ethical Fashion are a Priority
The need to protect and preserve our planet cannot be overstated, which means that making sustainable and ethical wardrobe choices will become part of our style conscience. More people will consider where and how wardrobe items are made, who makes them, what they are made of, how their laundering needs and longevity affects the environment, and how to pass them on responsibly.
It’s difficult to make sustainable and ethical wardrobe choices. There are no slam-dunk solutions, and many compromises. The socio-economic implications are huge, and reliable information is lacking. But we all have to start somewhere or things will never change. People will make the most sustainable and ethical choices that they can manage, and try to improve on them with each passing year.
7. Online Shopping Rules Supreme
COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to online shopping, and I think the change is going to stick. The trend was already well underway before the pandemic, and especially in the US where shipping is often free. There are an increasing number of retailers with no physical storefront, and more on the way. More and more retailers are putting extended sizes and additional colour options online, as opposed to displaying them in stores. And as more retailers close their physical storefronts, their online business continues. If we aren’t already, we’ll be expert online shoppers before we know it.
This is all speculation on my part. It will be interesting to revisit this post in a year or two, and compare my predictions to reality. In the meantime, over to you. How do you think our relationships with fashion and style will have changed when we return to a new normal after the pandemic?