Banes of the coronavirus pandemic are superlative. But upon optimistic inspection, one finds that several tiny, thin-slivered (albeit privileged) boons have managed to creak through. Among the top-ranking ones is the transformation of our wardrobes. Locked up at home for the better part of our months, with floating from the sofa to the bed and then back again qualifying as the only form of travel, dressing down has become priority. Pyjamas are no longer sleep-clothes. They’re a way of life. Our paunches have found permanent residence in sweatshirts. And bras? Well, I can’t remember the last time I wore one.

Living through last year was hellish. But at least I lived through it in my pyjamas. The rest of my wardrobe must sure think I’m dead. To disperse their doubts, on rare occasions I do reach for a pair of jeans and a bahar pehenne wala turtleneck. Still, the privilege of tasting the air outside my wardrobe is afforded most to my worn-out pyjamas. For two main reasons. First, lounging around with existential crisis is an exercise more achievable in loose, baggy clothes. Second, it’s far better to be a comfortable work-from-home grouch than just a work-from-home grouch. Wouldn’t you agree?

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People across the world agree with me. I have proof to show. CNBC, quoting an Adobe research, stated that in 2020, pyjama sales skyrocketed 143 percent while sales for pants fell 13 percent in the United States. However, for some, the tectonic shift in the fashion industry isn’t a notable event. Delhi-based Tarana Singhal, a 21-year-old working woman, tells us, “What the world is coming into now, I have always believed in. I live in my pyjamas twenty-four-into-seven. And I have a great collection. It’s good to see I predicted pandemic fashion.”

What Are Global Fashion Experts Saying?

Around the world, the fashion industry is reverberating with change on many fronts. As women shift to sartorial choices that are more breathable than fashionable, some items are selling more than others. Case in point: slippers. Beth Goldstein, footwear analyst for American market research group NPD, tells Washington Post, “High heels are way down. The question now is whether they’ll ever rebound.”

A Statista survey interestingly says that 20 percent French women between ages 18 and 24 ditched the bra during the early period of the pandemic. And a quick scroll through social media will testify that bras have fallen massively out of favour. Does it reckon a revival of the 1960s bra-burning movement? I’m sure a lot of women wouldn’t mind.

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At a deeper, more far-reaching level, sustainable fashion has gained precedence, and may well direct runway trends in 2021. Industry mogul Stella McCartney, already renowned for her luxe yet sustainable designs, reportedly noted a further downward trend in the environmental impact of her upcoming Spring/Summer ’21 collection.

That is the macrocosm. At the microcosm of things in India, experts are seeing a surge in purchases from homegrown labels, small businesses, and organic fashion. Ruchi Krishna, a Mumbai-based stylist working with the likes of Archana Puran Singh and Aisha Ahmed, tells us, “Smaller brands and local businesses are the fashion choices of the moment. Many local labels that are cropping up in quarantine are doing some great work. Even several celebrities are ditching the bigger designers and opting for homegrown labels.”

Here are some e-commerce fashion labels that SheThePeople recognised during its 2020 Digital Women Awards.

How Women Are Customising Their Wardrobes

DIYs aren’t an alien concept to Indians well-versed in the art of jugaad. Now thanks to the pandemic, our craftiness in this field is witnessing renewed expertise. Have to attend a Zoom meeting but don’t want to get out of your boxers? Just button a formal shirt up that raggedy tee you have on. The boss won’t know. For a teacher who’s dreading wearing a saree for an online class? Simply drape a pressed dupatta or saree pallu over one shoulder and accessorise. Students won’t know. See? It’s child’s play.

Krishna adds, “Everyone’s making the best out of what’s already available in their wardrobes. For instance, a lot of people are sporting blazer suits on top of hoodies. Nude tones of make-up are easy to do at home, so that’s popular on shoots. A lighter colour palette is in.”

Our celebrities too are leading the way in guiding the winds of fashion towards more laidback zones. Where Smriti Irani showed us it was okay to wear slippers beneath your office attire, Kareena Kapoor Khan continues to give the breezy kaftan the recognition it deserves.

Also Read: 7 Things Desi Moms Say That We Hate (But Secretly Love)

The Fate Of Our Wardrobes In 2021

The final item meriting an honorary mention is the face mask. The saviour, the messiah, the human muzzle. It has emerged as an industry of its own, where lockdown brides are opting for masks of the same print and fabric as their lehengas and comic-crazed children are fussing over superhero masks. There’s something for everyone in store here. And it comes as a godsend for introverts like me who are thankful for the anonymity of a mask that protects us on the streets and in the markets from the ill-luck of running into chatty neighbours.

Pandemic fashion seems to be striking positive notes in general. Personally, I wouldn’t mind prolonging the wear of pyjamas as a staple everyday outfit or of the face mask as a shield against all sorts of viruses and all sorts of extroverts. And I’m sure elated to have my body liberated from torture tools like bras and heels. Although, would it be too hypocritical of me if I were to say that I do sometimes miss dressing up in skirts and red lips for a night on the town? Or that I wouldn’t entirely mind fitting into a crop top that makes me feel good?

As I mull over the Sophie’s choice of pandemic fashion, the fate of my wardrobe in 2021 lies in the hands of the good people rolling out vaccines.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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