The pandemic has made shopping more difficult than ever with booming online sales and sharp declines in retail. Practical, comfortable items suitable for a lifestyle of working from home and occasional trips outside – such as Ugg boots, Crocs and trousers with elasticated waistbands – have seen rising sales.
However, many of us are now able to express our emotions in lockdown. This has led to a shift in the way that we talk about and feel about our clothes.
Two new words were created last week to describe our new approach to fashion. Portmanteaus are words that describe the stress and the mundanity of lockdown as well as the changing relationship we have to our clothes
According to the New York Times, “hate-wear” is clothing that is “neither fashionable nor particularly comfortable but constantly in rotation”. These clothes are worn more for their utility than their style.
Reyhan Harmanci, NYT writer, says that “not knowing how to dress is not the least of anyone’s problems.” However, she said that “most people still have to put on clothes.” It has led to some strange choices for those who work remotely.
The article includes examples of a sweater that has holes, jogging bottoms that are too small and a jumper that was worn so often it became a symbol for stress and sadness. You could argue that Nancy Pelosi wearing the exact same dress for Trump’s second impeachment vote or Matt Hancock’s zipped, gilet-like top, worn during visits to Covid vaccination centres, were sartorial symbols of “stress and sadness”.
According to Charlie Teasdale (the magazine’s style director), Esquire came up with the term “sadwear”, which is “our collective term” for clothes that make us feel better when sad.
There were many comfort-blanket clothing options, including hoodies, pyjamas and jogging bottoms, which should be worn with a matching jacket. It could also include something extravagant or unexpected, depending on how the wearer feels.
Celebrities mirrored the trend with Harry Styles photographed in a dressing dress (Marks &. Spencer reported a fivefold rise in nightwear sales during the pandemic period. Justin Bieber was photographed in a ill-fitting sweatshirt and Jared Leto was wearing a beanie. Teasdale said that it might be a silly hat, novelty jumper, or even a pair joggers that are funny but not flattering.
Teasdale says that these words are part a new lexicon. They describe the “various sartorial sticking sticks people can use to alleviate the gloom.”