Pandemic Has Changed Our Relationship With Fashion. Now What?



In the last couple of months, most of us had some time to, in one way or another, rethink our relationship with our clothes. I know I did. And not only as a person who has been working in fashion for more than a decade, analyzing and questioning why and how it affects our everyday lives. I would always think about why we keep on chasing the next and why the new becomes irrelevant as soon as we see it. The way we claim our love for the ‘investment item for life’ and yet succumb to something we fall in love on Instagram. Most of the time, our relationship with fashion is so emotional, irrational, and impulsive. But can it change? Will it? Has it?

When I say relationship, I mean it. The clothes we have, the clothes we wear and the pieces we covet make such an interesting love triangle. But these recent months of isolation, reflection, and uncertainty have greatly affected the dynamics of this affair. What used to be a quick seasonal fling has now become a memento of better days. Unless you like to throw parties for your dying houseplants, a trendy mini dress is useless. Insulting to look at, even.

In the current situation, most clothing doesn’t have a purpose anymore. High-heeled sandals, handbags, costume jewelry, and at least 80% of makeup products – they used to make sense in spaces we’re no longer visiting and won’t visit anytime soon. They make no sense left to collect dust in the furthest corners of our wardrobes. And since we’re living in times when the word ‘essential’ is as buzz-worthy as ‘sustainable’ or ‘organic,’ an entire catalog of fashion items has been deemed non-essential. It is bittersweet to look at things we used to wear and enjoy only a couple of months ago. We’re in a state of mourning. It’s a breakup, and it still hurts.

However, I do believe that we are on our way to falling in love again. And like in every romantic comedy, as soon as the flashy flirt reveals his or her real character, we realize that true love has always been right under the nose. And by that, I mean rediscovering our boring clothes. The stuff we ignore in our closets and, ironically, love in aspirational ‘minimalist wardrobe’ editorials or closet tour videos. An old pair of no-fuss jeans. A plain t-shirt. A hoodie or a pair of beaten-up sneakers. Something so boring you throw it on, forget it and go on with your day.

That’s exactly what’s happening to me as well. Even though I have always been a slightly boring dresser (black on black and a white t-shirt on a good day), now I thoroughly enjoy wearing clothes that are neutral enough for both Zoom meetings and going for a walk. I have sold several pieces I just don’t feel like wearing anymore and bought a pair of plain Nikes (still waiting for them to arrive, though). 

I encouraged my friends to do the same. We even shopped in each other’s closets, swapped, and remade some garments. We got rid of most of the things we kept for thinner future selves, the stuff we would routinely put off selling or throwing away. We thought that certain clothes remind us of the important moments in life. It took a global pandemic to understand that memories are not tied to material objects, and we have our phones to look at pictures whenever we feel like reliving a specific moment.

That’s exactly why I love boring clothes, and this new-found fascination might lead to a lifelong commitment. They can’t become an emotional burden but, if well-made and simple enough, can accompany us through this difficult time and provide comfort whenever we need it. It’s such an intimate affair, us and our clothes. Right now, I am wearing a pair of black trousers I bought from my ex-co-worker a couple of weeks ago for 20 euros and a no-name grey hoodie. These are boring clothes. They are also covered in my cat’s hair. But after our collective breakup with ever-changing fashion, this truly feels like a happily ever after.

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