Trackpants: A lockdown love story in three parts. First, we were wooed by their novelty (an elasticated waist for work!). Next, we settled into the comfort of familiarity (hello again, you). Finally, we grew a little too familiar, bored even (another day, the same trackpants – is this it now?).
But, a twist. Now, our heads have been turned by an item of clothing promising to stave off our most feral fashion instincts: the lockdown dress. Breezy designs that have all the comfort you demand now, while still tapping into the ‘real’ world, these pieces are heralding the next stage of our working-from-home wardrobe relationships. We’re done with reruns of our teen hangover wardrobes, and are hankering after something a little more grown-up.
Kate Middleton has got the memo; she wore Ghost’s fluid Anouk dress during the weekly ‘clap for carers’ last month ( sold out within half an hour of her wearing it. In response, the brand donated all proceeds from sales of the dress to the NHS charities). Well, did you really think she’d be in a onesie behind closed doors?
The charm of the lockdown dress is in its ease. In forgiving, unrestrictive silhouettes and floaty fabrics it is made for gliding from kitchen to sofa, while exuding enough polish to virtually show the rest of the world you’ve still got your style smarts. It has the wafty effortlessness of kaftans and nighties (and, indeed, many resemble haute versions of these) while still being Zoom- appropriate. "You can just throw it on and go," says the designer Rejina Pyo. "I’ve been wearing our linen Emilia shift dress, it’s lightweight and has a looser fit, making it very comfortable to wear – and I love the hand-painted Hawaiian print."
Ghost’s Creative Director Sameera Azim calls them the ‘house dress’. "A dress that is simple and comfortable, that gives you the feeling of being dressed up even when you are not," she explains. "This dress should be soft and floaty, nothing too form-fitting, especially around the mid-section, so you feel relaxed. In breathable fabrics like crepe and cotton."
"Dresses are a great wardrobe staple as you don’t have to worry about picking separate pieces out," adds Matches Fashion’s Fashion Buying Director Natalie Kingham. "They are perfect for days when you want to look a bit more pulled together for web meetings but also not feel restricted if you are sitting down a lot." She loves TooGood’s cobalt blue cotton shirtdress and Another Tomorrow’s white belted linen maxidress, which she’d layer over leggings or jazz up with a chunky chain necklace. "With all of us working from home, or being based around the house, the key factors to consider are both comfort and wearing pieces that lift the spirits."
Indeed, there is also mood-boosting appeal to these lockdown heroes. Whereas trackpants might say ‘given up’, a dress says ‘still got it’. "At first, I was just wearing PJs and dressing from the waist up, and it made me get the Sunday blues every day," admits Ganni’s Creative Director Ditte Reffstrup, who has a soft spot for the brand’s printed crêpe wrap dresses. "It made me realise how important it is to make an effort. I love dressing up more than I usually would day to day and wearing nice shoes like our strappy flats because it makes you feel better. It lifts me up and puts me in a good mood. It’s my version of self-care."
Clara Francis, founder of O Pioneers – a London-based label specialising in prairie style pieces – is a 365-day dress devotee. "Putting on a dress actually makes me feel lighter," she acknowledges."It definitely keeps me connected to some sense of normality in this discombobulating chaos."
Best of all, there’s no need to think of the lockdown dress as a temporary wardrobe fling. Rather, these pieces have longevity in the outside world. "Even as working from home has become my new normal, I’m still a huge proponent of getting ready for the day," insists Lisa Aiken, Fashion and Buying Director at Moda Operandi. "I rely on casual, quiet dresses (Matteau makes my favourites) that I can wear now, and when I’m able to resume my travels."
"They are also a great investment as, post lockdown, we’ll be able to wear them for intimate gatherings with friends and family for relaxed day-to-evening looks," adds Natalie. When that might be remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, it looks like it’s time to break up with your trackpants.
Main photo: Zara Spring/Summer 2020
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