Quarantine Qomfort: the evolution of leisure wear
If you are in London, you are currently wearing a mask, but free to dine out, drink in a pub, and travel. If you are in Melbourne, you are currently wearing a mask, and allowed to go...into a different room in your own house, and that’s about it.
The pandemic has changed most things about our society. It’s changed how we work, how we interact with others, how we experience our hobbies. It’s altered many serious things for many people as well: it has meant an uptick in fear, which manifests in our bones and our brains, as chronic pain, depression and anxiety.
And, well, this is a fashion column. So it would make sense that today, I’m writing about what we wear when we are scared, and when we are unsure about the future.
We turn to comfort wear, that holds us tight, and allows our bodies to relax within it.
Quarantine has changed the global landscape for sure, and with that comes the drastic shift that creative industries are experiencing. There are no shoots, barely any samples being lent out. Funding has gone down, in favour of economic initiatives. But we have seen a huge pivot, from various brands, to making clothes that might not be the aesthetic aspirations that they usually produce, but instead show an understanding that right now, people want to be comfortable.
So what is comfort wear? It means something different to everyone, but the broad scope that I can identify is that it is clothing that makes you feel physically, physiologically and psychologically safe. In short, it is made from a fabric that is thermal, to keep you warm, and is soft on the skin - that includes fleeces, wool, cashmere (fancy!). It is usually in neutral tones (think: grey, beige, black, white) to not induce a reaction from your brain (bright colours can stimulate your emotions).
And you would not usually wear your comfort clothes outside. Why? Well, because in times of stress or fear, you turn to your clothes to become like a second, protective layer of skin. They want to feel nice and be inoffensive, and you want to pull strength from the cosiness they provide. They feel safe. Just as you wouldn’t step out naked, these clothes signal vulnerability, which you may not necessarily want the external world to see.
So now that we are all living through a traumatic global event that has redefined every boundary that we thought we had, we are probably wearing these clothes more than usual. And we are also probably investing in these clothes - which brands have started to realise. We are not turning to the bodycon-style going-out genre as much, because...well, we’re not going out as much. And when we are at home, working, as so many of us are, we probably don’t want to wear jeans and a pressed, crisp shirt (I mean, I still sometimes do, because honestly it helps me remember that...I am working). Brands are realising that, and producing some truly remarkable leisure wear to reflect the current time.
Comfort wear originated as something for athletes to wear, post-exertion: a way to calm down their tired muscles. Now, it’s something we throw on to hang around the house in, to calm down our minds.
We want soft cotton, and malleable pants - and it’s no longer just Adidas and Nike’s game. Most mainstream brands have some kind of approach to garments that shroud the wearer in a haze of safety.
We’ve seen collaborations between brands and influencers, whose entire line of work has irreversibly changed, to produce luxe comfort clothing (looking in particular at Atoir x Rozalia Russian). We’ve seen lots of high street brands also changing their style forecasts to include homey, casual wear - famously ethereal And Other Stories have produced a cashmere-blend jogger, while Weekday have joined forces with sport luxe FILA to produce a leisure wear line. And of course, right here at Maison de Choup we have a range of clothing designed to address a need for comfort AND mental health.
But what I really love about comfort wear is that it looks different for everyone, and often the clothes are sentimental relics that you could never find again now. For me, it’s a pair of grey cotton joggers from Spanish Primark from 2017, and a red jumper with dye that runs, from Brandi Melville. They have both...seen better days, but they feel like home and like rest.
I would love to hear what others wear, totally unique to them (and probably, like mine, a number of years old) - feel free to drop a comment, or drop me a message.
WEARING: These! And I think they sold out again - they spray them with the lushest perfume, and make your feet feel like royalty.
EATING: Pears! Never had a bad day when I started it with a pear.
LISTENING TO: A lot of Nick Cave, after his solo performance at Ally Pally.
READING: Tatler dynasties. I’m addicted - as non-native UKer, I find it extremely exciting to learn about the names behind every country house.