Much of Europe is in the middle of yet another strict lockdown, which is planned to continue until April in the UK according to the prime minister. This means that most of us nonessential workers will continue working and studying from home in the foreseeable future. Much has been said (even by yours truly) about the shift this has created in terms of fashion, namely a greater embrace of ‘loungewear’. The way we dress is intricately tied to our social context; we wear uniforms in school, put on THE ‘party top’ when we go out, a shirt and blazer to interviews, etc… When we are removed from that context, comfort quickly becomes the chief, if not only, a priority. But while we lounge in our pyjamas in front of a screen for a couple more months, we have time to wonder how the world after will look like. So let’s think out loud for a bit, shall we?
One may hope that the entire world, struck by the magic of sweatpants, will collectively decide that loungewear no longer is loungewear and that all skinny jeans should be burned. Certain fashion brands certainly have gone a long way towards innovating to make elastic waistbands more widespread beyond the gym or the house. I wrote last semester about the brand PANGAIA and its sleek range of sustainably crafted essentials and clothes, and their sales seem nowhere close to slowing down. In that vein, many of the S/S 2021 fashion shows featured oversized pants and long, flowy dresses with very little cinching at the waist. Though these clothes are all of course beautiful pieces, they reflect our collective desire for comfort above impractical, fussy pieces.
However, while some currents seem to indicate that we have come to embrace convenience and ‘practicality’ over all else, the realities of fashion are more complicated. Even if we have been removed from a great source of influence by being stuck at home, we are still guided by the impulse to look and feel good. While this has meant embracing sweatpants in certain cases, it has also led to an explosion of, for example, facial plastic surgery. Plastic surgery demand has boomed during this lockdown in what has been coined as the ‘zoom effect’. The parts of ourselves which remain in view in the digital workplace have become the focus of attention and ambitions of enhancement. While our focus on clothes may have loosened a bit, our impulse to take care of our appearance has not. In consequence, we should not expect that everyone will remain in loungewear once they return to being visible.
In terms of fashion, this has meant that, while many collections exhibited flowy and baggy pieces, the same brands also showcased an enormous array of bralettes, sequined clothes, or cutout or open-back dresses. The corset even made its return in collections like Givenchy.
Shows like Givenchy or Fendi also featured noticeably large earrings, dangling down to Demi Moore’s armpits in Fendi’s case. Though these earrings may be impractical to mere mortals, they reflect our collective desire to go out and shine after so many months of a grey mass of confined days.
Fashion shows are only mere indicators of the currents in the fashion world, especially as trends are increasingly guided by streetwear and influencers which appear on social media. However, what these two seemingly clashing currents reveal is that, while this year has been difficult for virtually everyone on the planet, fashion this year is letting us have the choice. We may take it as another symptom of the complete uncertainty of the coming months, as hope for the vaccine mixes with the dread of new strains and insufficient stockpiles, but it is also a sign of our endurance, as we adapt and plan for either in our clothing. In conclusion, stay safe, fashion has got us covered!