I don’t know about you, but has the past year and a half been mostly a blur? Or more accurately a time warp? You know, the phenomenon that changes the flow of time by speeding it up or making it run more slowly, that physicists have known about for over 100 years?
Well, thanks to the rollout of highly effective vaccines, things are finally starting to look up. As of the writing of this blog, 299 million vaccine doses have been given and 137 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated, that’s roughly 41.9% of our population. As vaccines are slowly being distributed around the world, we have new hope that, in time, this global pandemic will be behind us.
Take a walk-through New York City and you will notice that the streets are beginning to get packed again. Museums are opening (with advanced ticket purchases), customers are onsite shopping, restaurants and bars (both indoor and outdoor) are drawing crowds and people are cautiously stepping out of their cocoons.
As we make our way back into the world and begin to live our lives again, some of us are asking…”is there a new dress code”? Well, judging from fashion influencers, designers, and celebrity Instagram feeds, summer 2021’s biggest trend is “joy dressing!” This translates into happy, boisterous, colorful, over-the-top looks that are the antithesis of what we’ve been wearing for the past year and a half…sweats and pjs.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, a Washington, D.C clinical psychologist stated that we humans use clothing to mark significant events. Making it through a global pandemic is one of those events for sure. And as U.S. cities reopen, friends reunite and the world becomes a smidgen less terrifying, women are reaching for exuberant outfits. This year will represent rebirth, and our fashion choices will reflect that.
“We’ve spent the past year in sweatpants, consumed by uncertainty,” said Miami clinical psychologist Dr. Christina Ferrari to the Wall Street Journal. “You’re going to see a lot of people overcompensating for what they couldn’t wear” during lockdown.
According to Libby Page, senior fashion-market editor at luxury e-commerce platform Net-a-Porter, “During the pandemic’s darkest days, customers were buying a sea of very neutral tones and loungewear,” she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. What she’s witnessing lately is the sale of spirited prints, swishy tiered skirts and jubilant ruffles, as well as very bright, bold, colorful dresses by brands like Zimmermann. Below is a video of Zimmerman’s spring 2021 show.
“With such unbridled style, women are responding to a traumatic year,” said Dr. Baumgartner. “When you face your mortality, it’s like you get a second chance. You’re able to take more risks.… You’re more willing to fully live.” Another factor: We’re craving human interaction. Dr. Baumgartner states, “Exciting fashion elates the wearer but also delights viewers. We see our joy reflected in their eyes, [which] reinforces our joy.”
JOYFUL FASHION HAS ALWAYS COME OUT OF HISTORIES DARKEST DAYS
Historically, fashion has always progressed after a devastating, worldwide event. For example, the Roaring Twenties came after the destruction and despair of World War I. It was a decade of economic growth and prosperity with a unique cultural edge that swept major cities throughout the United States and Europe. During the decadence and opulence of the Roaring ‘20s, the ‘flapper’ look redefined the modern dress code for women. Fringe, beads, sequins, dropped waists, short dresses, uncovered shoulders, The Great Gatsby, the Charleston, all contributed to the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. It was a modern revolution that broke from tradition and was a sharp contrast to the conventional, fussy frills that woman once wore.
Another great example of a fashion revolution came after World War II. Christian Dior, the rising star of the Parisian Haute Couture, introduced the “New Look” in 1947, featuring ultra-femininity and opulence in women’s fashion. Hour glass silhouettes, rounded shoulders, cinched waists, full skirts were all a sharp contrast after years of military looks, sartorial restrictions and life-essential shortages. Dior offered not merely a new look, but a new outlook.
“People are reevaluating what they want to wear, maybe for the first time ever since they were kids,” states Fashion Psychology Institute founder Dr. Dawnn Karen, who also serves as a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Last March, Dr. Karen released a book, Dress Your Best Life. Referring to the pandemic, she writes, “They don’t have all these Draconian measures and rules to follow, except to wear a mask. People are thinking, ‘Okay, well, what do I want to wear, if I could wear anything I want?'”
Ms. Karen has established a theory what she calls ‘dresser-uppers’. These consumers search for ‘mood-enhancement dress’, that is to say they dress to optimize a mood. Where dressing was once tied to overarching cultural norms (case in point, the exaggerated femininity of the New Look by Dior), we now dress for ‘mood-illustration’ and ‘mood-enhancement’ representing personal satisfaction — nothing more, nothing less.
With this in mind, and out of Covid’s post-traumatic stress effect, we are seeing a rise in individualized sartorial choices. Consumers are once again embracing the joy of fashion and are wearing the clothes they want to wear. And there’s plenty to choose from.
JOYFUL TRENDS FOR SUMMER 2021
It’s time to do the floss this season. Strappy bands wrap around the midriff for a sexy update to the crop top.
IT’S A SWEEP
Romance is in the air as floor-sweeping gowns ruled the spring runways, whether sheer or printed, these floating maxi dresses are the perfect way to make a splash this summer.
After so many (too many?) years of skinny jeans, it’s finally time to cut loose this spring. Designers are offering baggy trousers that are oversized and yet oh-so-chic.
Just like when a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, we’re all eager to get out. Some of us will even want to dance the night away. Whether inspired by the Halston film, with so many scenes of Studio 54, this new crop of sparkly numbers is there for the taking.
This season’s strategic cut-outs worked their way into gowns, sheath dresses and slippery silks, spicing up conservative looks thanks to peekaboo glimpses of skin.
INNERWEAR AS OUTERWEAR
While we all lived in loungewear this past year, designers are embracing the innerwear as outerwear trend with body sculpting corsets that can be dressed up or paired down.