The pandemic has changed a lot of things about our day-to-day lives. As one writer investigates, knowing what to wear out of the house now lockdown has eased is one of them.
Since lockdown eased and non-essential businesses re-opened on Monday 12 April, our social media feeds have been awash with the cheers-ing of long-awaited pints and smiling faces together in pub gardens.
You would think that after a year of clothes gathering dust in our wardrobes, we’d have planned our re-entry outfits months ago. After all, we finally have somewhere to wear everything we impulse bought out of lockdown boredom. But many of us are finding dressing for this new normality harder than ever.
And so comes all of the doubt fuelled questions sent between group WhatsApp chats in various states of panic: “Will I be wildly overdressed for a pub garden?” “Why does nothing I own go together?” “How do you put an outfit together again?” “Is it too cold for a dress?” “Do jeans and a nice top still work?”
The promise to wear ballgowns to the supermarket faded very quickly. Remember when everyone said they’d take any and every opportunity to put their fineries and never look at a pair of sweatpants again?
It seems that all of the expectation we had built up for the social events of the year have caught up with us, and the adjustment period from low maintenance indoor style to being out in public is hitting harder than anyone thought.
Of course, outfit indecision is by no means the most pressing issue of the pandemic, and the reality is that everyone will be so caught up in finally being able to socialise again that they’ll barely notice what you’re wearing.
So why is this wardrobe dilemma at the forefront of so many minds?
First, it’s hard not to feel overdressed when anything more than activewear feels “formal” to us now. Back in the Before Times, jeans on a night out were the comfortable option – now even they are more restrictive than we’re used to.
For a lot of us, our style and what we used to wear pre-pandemic feels alien to who we are now. “My wardrobe used to feel like an old friend, full of rainbow garments that had seen me through lots of exciting times in my life,” says Stylist writer Megan Murray. “Now I feel distant and, actually, a bit intimidated by it all.”
The changing British weather – glorious sunshine one minute and snow the next – only makes it even harder to pick something that will make you feel good about yourself without freezing to death. It’s true that dressing up feels less fun when you have to layer a big jumper over your favourite dress to sit outside.
It seems the way we dress has fundamentally changed. After a year inside, we’ve lost inspiration when it comes to our clothes, as well as the confidence to express ourselves in public the way we used to.
The anxiety many people already had about returning to some semblance of “normal” over the coming weeks isn’t going to be helped by overthinking fashion choices. But with what you wear being one of the few tangible things that lots of us can control at the moment, it’s no wonder it’s been a little overwhelming to consider as we brace for more social interaction beyond the comfort of our own homes.
Though we know key trends like coloured leather coats, platform flip flops and feel good prints will feature, we’ll have to wait to find out if comfort will remain key or are we well and truly over dressing down all the time becomes a thing of the past.
But the thing dressing up and socialising both have in common is that they’re both meant to be fun. Maybe the key is to think less and enjoy what we’re wearing - and where we’re going - a little bit more.