By: Grace Coughlan, Senior Editor
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
It’s been a little over a year since our lives were turned upside down from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a little over a year since most of us have worn more than what’s in our sweatpants drawer. With 30% of the United States being fully vaccinated, and Towson University returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall, it’s time to face the reintroduction to social gatherings, to reflect on what we’ve worn this past year and what trends will dictate our closet choices moving forward.
As many others can attest, last spring was a time spent wearing nothing but oversized sweatshirts and sweatpants. Those two weeks in March when TU closed, which soon turned into many long months, proved to be the tipping point for fashion trends. Without classes, work and gatherings, there was no reason for us to dress our best.
The shift from going to work and hanging out with friends to doing it all from the comfort of your home caused a major shift in the fashion industry. People didn’t have to fuss over what they were going to wear or what fancy attire to pick out for their weekly friends night, because we didn’t actually go anywhere.
As I predicted last summer, fashion trends have shifted toward comfortability over style even as we start to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fashion markets like desk-to-dinner outfits and commuter styles make it easier for people to travel through their busy schedules in a cozy style. The creation of the capsule wardrobe by Caroline Rector is another market that allows individuals to create a limited wardrobe that operates on functionality. Rector recommends selecting a set number of clothing pieces for your closet that can be changed each season to maintain a light, practical wardrobe.
While there’s a lot of speculation of comfortability over style, I can’t help but wonder if people are finally tired of putting on the same outfit day-in and day-out. Although the possibility of wearing jeans is slightly terrifying, there’s a part of me that feels a spark of excitement when I think about being able to wear a new pair of jeans to class in the fall and I’m curious as to whether or not others are feeling the same.
According to Elizabeth Segran, a writer for Fast Company, multiple designers believe loungewear will be tossed away in favor of more trendy and glamorous clothing items post-pandemic. In connection with a major change, designers have acknowledged that a lot of major fashion changes have come with the major world events, like wars and crisis’, and that it’s normal for there to be drastic shifts.
“During World War II, for instance, women wore jeans and overalls as they took over men’s jobs,” Segran said. “Then, in 1947, Christian Dior unveiled his debut collection, which featured figure-hugging jackets, fitted waists, and A-line skirts. It was a radically feminine look that repudiated the utilitarian, masculinized garments of the previous years—and that was the point.”
It’s really interesting to look back at fashion associated with past world events and compare them to what we’re all experiencing now. These radical shifts are natural responses that people may be having after experiencing such big change.
“During moments of crisis, fashion pivots to meet the needs of the moment, but it tends to draw from trends that already existed,” Segran said.
I believe Segran’s idea of “meet the needs of the moment” connects to our identities as individuals. Change and isolation are two aspects that a majority of us felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I think having the opportunity to start a return to normality is going to trigger our desire to express ourselves and reconnect with ourselves in diverse ways.
So where are we headed with trends? We can speculate all we want on whether it will be sweatpants or jeans, leggings or a dress, but what it comes down to is wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. I think we can all expect to see a continuation in the popularity of loungewear; with summer around the corner, comfy tees, sweatshorts and light-weight leggings will fit the comfort and casual look. At the same time, I believe people are going to dust off their elegant side and might find more occasions to spice up their look.
When the first day of fall classes arrive, don’t be afraid to pull out the jean drawer for the first time, or stay in the comforts of your sweats. With the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, we’re continuing to see change in the COVID-19 pandemic and fashion will forever be evolving alongside it.