With online sales booming but retailing sharply declining, the pandemic has changed shopping forever. Practical and comfortable items suitable for a work-at-home lifestyle and occasional outdoor travel such as Ugg boots, Crocs and elastic waist pants saw their sales increase.
But with many of us struggling with our emotions during lockdown, the way we feel and talk about our clothes has also changed.
Last week two new words were coined to describe our new attitude towards fashion; coat racks that articulate the stress and banality of locking, but also the changing relationship we have with our clothes.
the New York Timess hate-wear refers to clothing that is neither stylish nor particularly comfortable, but constantly in rotation, items worn for utility rather than style.
Not knowing how to dress is the least of the problems, says NYT writer Reyhan Harmanci, but we still have to (mostly) put on clothes. For those of us who are now working from home, this has resulted in some weird choices.
Examples in the article include a sweater with holes, the wrong size jogging bottoms, and a sweater that was worn so regularly that it suddenly became a symbol of stress and sadness. You could argue that Nancy Pelosi is wearing the exact same dress for Trumps second impeachment vote or Matt Hancocks zipped, vest-shaped top, worn during visits to Covid vaccination centers, were sartorial symbols of stress and sadness.
Esquire, meanwhile, coined the term sad, our collective term for the clothes that make us feel better when we were sad, specifically born out of the existential boredom of lockdown, according to Charlie Teasdale, the magazines style director.
The list of comfort blanket clothing included pajamas, hoodies and, of course, jogging bottoms (ideally with a matching hoodie). But it could also encompass something unexpected or luxurious, depending on how the wearer feels.
Celebrities mirrored this trend, with Harry Styles pictured in a dressing gown (Marks & Spencer reported a five-fold increase in nightwear sales during the pandemic period), Justin Bieber in an ill-fitting sweatshirt and Jared Leto in a beanie. It could be a silly hat or a fancy sweater or even a pair of joggers that feel great, but are ridiculously unflattering, Teasdale said.
According to Teasdale, these words are part of a new lexicon, articulating the various sartorial sticky dressings that people can use to ease gloom. He admits, however, that sadwear could never quite compete with a pub night’s rescue.
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