As more and more people were stuck indoors because of the pandemic, many traded in their suits and ties, high heels and blazers, for yoga pants, slippers and high school reunion T-shirts with mustard stains. And if you had a Zoom meeting, say hello to boxers on the bottom and a button-up shirt on top.
Suffice it to say, wardrobes have changed in the last two years, and not in the way fashion trends normally change. The pandemic has shifted the way people approach clothing.
Deirdre Clemente is the director of UNLV’s public history program, where she specializes in fashion history. The Nevada Independent talked with her about how fashion trends have changed since COVID-19 hit the United States.
This interview is shortened for clarity and length. You can find a version of this interview on our podcast, IndyMatters.
How has COVID affected fashion trends and how people approach fashion?
What we wear has always been tied to a representation of our social and socioeconomic identities. So what we’re doing right now with the current buzz in American fashion is a direct outgrowth of social and cultural change that has gone down in the past two years of this pandemic.
Because we aren’t seeing people as often as we used to because of working from home and social distancing, are we less concerned about what we are wearing?
I think one of the most important things for us to acknowledge as we move forward culturally with the American wardrobe is to understand what’s happening right now with the personalization of dress as an outgrowth of the past 10 years … This happened in World War II. It happened after World War I. Things that we consider these shifts in dress and shifts in fashion aren’t just out of nowhere — they’ve actually been hanging in the wings, but social upheaval gives them the chance to step center stage.
I think that this rise of casual dress at the level that it is in American culture at the moment is really the natural warp speed version of where we were going.
These changes towards casualization and this idea of, “No, I’m not going to wear a button-down collared shirt and khakis to work anymore” — those kinds of rules just have less weight amid cultural and workplace changes … The modern worker just doesn’t live by, “Where’s the dress code handbook?” anymore. It’s laughable. So that killed off a lot of those vestiges of corporate control over its employees.
So we are shifting away from wearing a tie and sports coat to the office to a more casual trend? Like wearing jeans or yoga pants to the office?
Oh, yes. It has been [shifting] for quite some time. The only thing about dress …….