COVID-19 has left an indelible mark on the global fashion industry. A new fashion style with interesting fashion trends has emerged. Is COVID-chic here to stay?

COVID-chic fashion trends. The image is of models walking down a catwalk.
There are amazing COVID-chic fashion trends in 2020. Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.

Lauren Hutton

In early 2020, fashion magazines splashed across their glossy pages the much-vaunted women’s Spring collections by the best fashion houses. Designers from Valentino and Dior to Salvatore Ferragamo and Tom Ford revealed their Spring/Summer Collections for 2020 on the runways of Milan and Paris.

Some fashion trends for the season included:

  • Bermuda shorts and hot pants and shorts of all lengths
  • Polka dots
  • Puffy sleeves
  • The Bra Top
  • Spring leather
  • Knitwear and crochet wear

Then, COVID-19 emerged and swept aside the Spring 2020 collection and all other potential collections for the year! Thus, COVID-chic has emerged as a new fashion style during the pandemic.

5 COVID-chic Fashion Trends

In the second quarter of 2020, most people didn’t venture further than their local grocery stores. And even now, in the second half of the year, people are still trying to figure out the safest way to move outside their homes. All over the world, women are now opting for comfort over style. I discuss five specific COVID-chic style trends below.

Pajamas: Day Pajamas and Night Pajamas

COVID-Chic fashion trend is the use of pajamas during the day. The image is of a woman in pajamas.
COVID-chic Fashion Trend #1: Pajamas.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

I’ll admit that this trend caught me a bit off guard. I wasn’t aware that women still wore formal pajamas! I’m not talking about an old T-shirt paired with a pajama bottom. I’m referring to the full pajama set! The ones with a matching top and bottom. Pajamas are a major style trend in COVID-chic wear.

The Adobe Digital Economy Index which studies online or digital purchases recorded that online pajama sales in United States grew 143% in April 2020. Sales of previous work staples, such as pants and jackets, declined for that same period, for obvious reasons.

Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their days off that is the most intriguing.

Alexander Wang

Interestingly, bra sales also dropped. It’s not exactly a ‘burn the bra’ moment in time, but women have felt, shall we say, more liberated during this period! COVID-chic prioritizes comfort over virtually everything else. Many women ditch their bras and shoes as soon as they enter their homes after work. During the pandemic, it hasn’t been necessary to use a bra since your office is at home.

Sweats, Leggings and Track Pants

Track pants are a COVID-chic fashion trend, the image is of a person using black track pants.
COVID-chic Fashion Trend #2: Track pants, sweats & leggings.
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

We dragged out this oft-used but also oft-maligned items of clothing from our closets, or even bought new athletic-leisure wear. Their comfort levels have always been undisputed. However, for too long we questioned the wearer’s sense of fashion if they wore these items out of the house. Not now. In 2020, this is a COVID-chic must-have.

In the time of a pandemic, we’ve relegated jeans, dress pants, and sometimes fussy dresses, to the back of our closets. Apart from being unable to accommodate the effects of COVID-carbs, jeans, with all its zip requirements, seemed a bit… extra. Many women prefer to use comfortable leggings within their homes. Sometimes, they ‘dressed’ up by swopping leggings for track pants.

If I had to start over, I’ll do the same thing: street clothes are the future; the client can choose two or three things and combine them as she wants.

Hubert de Givenchy

Shorts also feature as part of the COVID-chic line. So, yay for one Spring Collection 2020 must-have! It fits into the comfortable, no-fuss category, which is the reason it slotted nicely into the COVID-chic style. Like polka dots, we can incorporate shorts into many fashion styles.

Flat comfortable shoes

Flat, comfortable shoes are a COVID-chic fashion trend. The image is of a few rows of flat pumps.
COVID-chic Fashion Trend #3: Flat, comfortable shoes.
Image by moerschy from Pixabay.

Flat, comfortable shoes have come back with a vengeance. We discarded heels in favor of flip-flops, pumps, and slippers during this pandemic. Some people didn’t even feel the need to change out of their slippers when they quickly had to pop into the garage/gas station down the road for a loaf of bread. Yes, bedroom slippers have become acceptable outdoor wear. Can we still call them bedroom slippers?

Birkenstocks have taken the spotlight back! The old favorite has gained popularity while expending no effort on product marketing. According to the Times, the sale of Birkenstocks at the high-end UK department store, Selfridges, has increased by 140% since March 2020. Once deemed the ‘ugly’ shoe, we can no longer deny the comfort levels of Birkenstocks.

I really wish I had invented the flip-flop. I love flip-flops. It’s the one style of shoe I would be so proud of inventing: the Havaiana.

Christian Louboutin

We also reverted to our normal trainers/sneakers for outdoor use. However, the COVID-chic style favored slip-on shoes because of the ease of wear. We wanted no-fuss shoes, especially if we had to make trips outside the home. One health recommendation was to separate shoes worn outdoors from normal indoor wear. It’s easier to wash and clean shoes that don’t have laces or zippers.

Handbags Are Non-Essential

Handbags have become a non-essential item during COVID. The image is of handbags in a shop.
COVID-chic Fashion Trend #4: Handbags stayed at home.
Photo by shattha pilabut from Pexels.

There seems to be a consensus that one should travel light when leaving one’s home to go shopping. You don’t want to have to come back home and wipe down your purse if you don’t have to. Since only brief trips to the grocery store were initially being made, we only needed to carry cash or a credit card, car keys, and hand sanitizer. We left our handbags and the items that lived in them at home.

We improvised by wearing clothes with pockets. Clothes had to have pockets that were easily accessible and had sufficient storage room. Sweats and track pants met this need. We also wondered why women’s normal clothing staples had so few pockets. Is this one way of ensuring that we gravitate towards handbags and purses?

As handbags get ever more absurdly large, so they need to carry more stuff to validate the expense of this huge trunk with chains, buckles and padlocks on.

A.A. Gill

COVID-chic style promotes a simpler fashion style. This meant that there were fewer women walking around with handbags à la Sex and the City style. If our clothes lacked pockets, then we carried small crossbody bags which enabled us to store our hand sanitizer. The large handbags with which women have become synonymous were not visible in the spring COVID-chic collection!

No Zippers or Laces

Zippers and laces are not fashion choices during COVID. The image is of a blue and red zipper.
COVID-chic Fashion Trend #5: No zippers or laces.
Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash.

Looser, more comfortable clothing dominated our choice of wardrobe. That meant we ditched clothes that required too much effort. Hence, sweats and track pants took pride of place in our cupboards. Clothes that didn’t require ironing were a bonus. We also opted for billowy or loose-fitting dresses that are easier to use and can easily hide the pandemic pounds.

We can partly attribute the ‘no zippers’ fashion trend to the need for comfort and simplicity that’s synonymous with COVID-chic style. As the sale of work clothes staples dip, manufacturers of zippers are struggling to stay afloat. However, there is also a health benefit to not using clothes with zippers. There is a debate as to the potential for the transmission of the virus on surfaces such as zippers and buttons.

If it’s too fashiony, it’s not interesting to me.

Jean Paul Gaultier

We also opted for shoes that are easy to use and clean. We don’t like laces right now. It requires too much effort. Once again, there are potential health benefits to not using shoes with laces. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that shoes can be carriers of the virus because of contaminated floors.

Is COVID-chic Here to stay?

We had to improvise a great deal when our homes became offices and classrooms. This meant that we couldn’t spend more energy on clothing choices. Quick trips outside the home did not create a need for a change of clothing. I’ve seen people in slippers and dressing gowns at garage shops. It’s late winter here in the southern hemisphere, so we added dressing gowns onto our list of comfort items!

The best part of COVID-chic is that no one cares how you look. No one is judging you for being comfortable. Using masks also makes it easier to walk around, unrecognized. Who would have thought that covering your face could be so liberating?

Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.

Coco Chanel

It’s too early yet to determine whether COVID-chic is here to stay. We don’t know where we are in the pandemic cycle. The fashion industry has a mammoth task ahead, to convince us to sacrifice comfort for ruffles and high heels. I don’t doubt that Fashion 2021 and beyond will incorporate some elements of COVID-chic.