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Quarantine changes fashion preferences

March 2, 2021

Some people have always preferred to dress up whereas others have always preferred to be comfortable. But before the pandemic we knew there were moments when we had to “dress up.” But, during quaratine many people wore holes in their comfiest clothes figuring who is really seeing me if I’m not leaving the house. Some professionals on zoom calls wore nicer shirts or blouses on top but left the sweatpants or pajamas on the bottom.

According to NPR, retail clothing sales and accessories in the US is down 79% due to the pandemic. The article also noted that “Preppy fashion store J.Crew and luxury department store Neiman Marcus became the first two major retailers to declare bankruptcy during the pandemic, tipping over from their preexisting debt. Others are likely to follow, including the suburban-mall staple J.C. Penney.” With retail clothing stores closing, filing for bankrupcy or simply hanging on by a thread, economist wonder how many companies will survive.

Retail maybe plagued by this pandemic for years to come if things don’t change soon. In an article from April of 2020, Forbes Magazine said, “There are already signs of changing consumer habits in new research. A whopping 87% of U.S. shoppers prefer to shop in stores with “touchless or robust self-checkout options”, according to a survey sponsored by store automation company Shekel.”

Even as retail stores begin to adapt to the changing times, we need to consider if people will want to “dress up” anymore after being comfy and casual for nearly a year. These retail stores survival comes down to the consumer but the consumer needs a reason to buy new clothes. With restaurants starting to open up more in the US, will consumers start to buy new clothes as people finally start to leave their houses? As corporate America slowly begins to return to their offices and students begin to return to their classrooms, will people want a change out of their casual clothes? Will comfy casual replace business casual?

In the article below, two Declaration editors pick sides in this fashion war: one supports the casual cause while the other feels dressing up can bolster positive vibes.

Comfy is the new black


Photo Credit: photo via Jackie Poznanski used with permission

Since the pandemic, people have replaced their staple jeans and blouses for sweatpants and tee-shirts. Not only did society lose their motivation to dress nicely, but they’ve also gained respect for those who prefer lounge wear. Despite the chance of circumstance changes, it is clear to say comfy is the new black.

Since the pandemic, people have replaced their staple jeans and blouses for sweatpants and tee-shirts. Not only did society lose their motivation to dress nicely, but they’ve also gained respect for those who prefer loungewear. Despite the chance of circumstance changes, it is clear to say comfy is the new black.

Society Changes

Prior to 2020, most women and men would find themselves buying jeans, dress shoes, work clothes, etc. This normality has become strange ever since people began working and spending a majority of their time in their homes. COVID-19 not only destroyed the fashion industry but also created a desire to feel comfortable at all times.

Today, people work from their kitchen tables and at the least brush their hair. Depending on the work criteria, most women and men roll out of bed and sign on. The thought of repeating an outfit or even matching barely crosses the mind of today’s employees.

In my opinion, I think this culture change is wonderful because it allows people to not feel pressured to dress up. Prior to the pandemic, I was the person who constantly wore sweatpants and clothes that were more comfortable rather than fashionable. However, I do feel less judged leaving the house in sweatpants since everyone else is wearing them as well.

The Mix-matching

Some might say that getting dressed in the morning makes them feel a sense of normalcy. However, even those who believe this have found themselves mix-matching. With every pair of sweatpants or leggings one wears, they subsidize their top for a blouse or a “dressier” shirt. This combination can seem ridiculous but it has become a new reality.

Clothing Store Changes

In return, many clothing stores have decided to promote “comfy” wear as their main headliners. Typical teenager shopping stores such as Garage, Urban Outfitters, Pacsun, and Forever 21 produce clothing that suits their customers. Therefore, walking into a store like this today one would find various sweatpants, pajamas, and sweatshirts on display with only a few “dressy” options. Companies have come to terms with the fashion fad and are using it to their advantage. Not only are people buying more comfy clothes but, they are spending just as much as they would on fashionable outfits.

The Opposing Side

The fashion developers of our time obviously feel the need to keep the creativity going. However, it is clear to say that the majority is failing to follow pursuit. As a result, the combination of “fashionable” streetwear has found its way into society. This includes baggy jeans, sneakers, and a tight crop top. By implementing both baggy and tight they counter-act each other creating an interesting and desired look. This new trend has put everyone’s skinny jeans to shame. I would personally consider this combination, however, I would make it more my style. For example, I would most likely wear sweatpants, sneakers, and a tighter top because I don’t like wearing jeans often.  Therefore, despite the chance of circumstance changes, it is clear to say comfy is the new black.

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Dressing up is good for the soul


Photo Credit: photo by Christia Assa used with permission

Putting together an outfit gives joy to some people, but not everyone.

Throughout this past year, many people have switched to working remotely. Some people simply get out of bed, walk 10 steps to their desk and log on to school or work.

Debate to whether dressing up better or worse

It comes to a debate whether people like this new idea of not having to get dressed or if they hate that they can’t put their nice outfits to use.  Some people prefer to put on makeup and a nice outfit just to go out to the store. Others may just want to stay comfortable and put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Getting dressed up isn’t always to impress others, but instead, to make oneself feel good and accomplished.

Personally, besides actually liking fashion, I also use clothes to express or hide my emotions. Sometimes I will dress up nicer to hide the fact that I feel a bit sad. Other times I dress up to express how confident and happy I feel. When I wear clothes that make me feel good, I also feel more empowered and more put together. If I constantly wear sweatpants, I feel comfortable, but also tired, lazy, and less motivated to do things.

Also, not to sound too high or cocky of myself, but I just like feeling good in my own skin and knowing that I look good as well. Again, I strictly do it for myself and only myself. I don’t care to impress others, I just like putting together outfits and trying to improve my style.

Making an outfit complete

I am not much of a makeup person, so a way I like to complete an outfit is by adding accessories. Some things you can do this with are jewelry, belts, sunglasses, or a handbag. Another way to look like you put more effort into something is to style your hair.

I feel that jewelry has also come into play so much more now when styling and completing an outfit. Besides spending time to think of an outfit to put together, I also now take time to figure out what necklace, earrings, bracelets, or rings to wear. The little details really do make everything come together.

Diverse style options

There are a lot of different types of styles or “aesthetics” out there and there are a few that I like wearing. The names of some of these styles got made up by Generation Z I’m pretty sure. Some styles are called streetwear, kidcore, soft girl, e-girl, grunge, and a few others.

Recently, my style has been a balance between comfortable, but still fashionable. Looser and more baggy pants have been a big trend recently. Usually, they can be matched with a loose t-shirt or a tighter top. Sometimes even with a loose jacket over that for a more relaxed look. Honestly, in 2021 I feel that even though fashion trends still are impacted because of social media, fashion has also become more personalized. Even though not everyone is going back to school in person, when we do, hopefully everyone will feel more confident in dressing the way they want to.

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