All credits to Mr Porter:
With the pandemic slowly waning, if you’re anything like me, you’re already adding places and activities to your to-do list. Which is all well and good, but it throws up a whole new terrifying dilemma: what on Earth to wear.
Being a loudly dressed Italian who resides in the UK, lockdown hit my punchy sense of style particularly hard. Most of the jackets, shirts, trousers I had worn previously all had repeat prints with spiky palms, stuff with an outward sense of personality. So, when things shut down, I became lethargic at the thought of having to dress up with nowhere to go. Who would I be doing it for, anyway?
This past year and a half has meant that there’s no need to bother with a snazzy shirt or anything formal. For me, at least, this has translated to less time devoted to choosing the perfect shoes to wear to attend fashion week, which freed up plenty of space for other things. Like those who have changed careers or had coronavirus-induced epiphanies, the pandemic made me reassess my approach to fashion as a whole. Clothes took a backseat because, compared to everything else that was going on, worrying about fashion seemed, well, trivial.
Take the Black Lives Matter protests. Following Mr George Floyd’s murder, many people took to the streets to protest the death of a Black man killed unlawfully by two police. People wore balaclavas and huge slogan T-shirts to symbolise a much-needed reckoning. It was both poignant and potent: as a Black writer in an industry known for its racism, this event made me recalibrate the actual value and esteem I placed on fashion.
“Clothes took a backseat because, compared to everything else that was going on, worrying about fashion seemed, well, trivial”
To put it bluntly, lockdown had me reassessing the value of dressing, the meaning of fashion and the purpose of having to be out in the world again. I never thought I’d get to the point of wearing a onesie to Tesco on Christmas Eve, for instance. Or, weirdly enough, sporting a pair of Birkenstocks with Christmas socks in central London on a Bank Holiday weekend. I hardly recognised myself. But I remained hopeful about the joy of going back out there while having the chance to properly think about my own sartorial choices again.
Now, I’m slowly getting back to normal. Each morning, I stare at the ample array of neutral T-shirts and fuss-free jeans that I accumulated during lockdown. That’s probably the key lesson that I learnt, which I’ll take on my post-pandemic sartorial journey: teaming casual clothes with a slightly more elaborate staple (think a chunky loafer paired with a minimal overshirt) is now a way for me to have fun, make a statement, but strike a balance.
I also blame Scandi style (that minimalist appeal for neutrals), and even the understated beauty that comes with a plain cut T-shirt, for helping me enjoy the simpler things when it comes to clothes. I’ve been inspired by the 1990s, using the minimalism of that decade as the starting point for my style. Back then, details were stripped back, and embellishments were subtracted in the creation of pieces that focused on the sheer dynamism of form and importance of texture. The silhouettes, too, were decidedly baggier and more relaxed.
“The joy of dressing up again makes me grateful to be back doing what I love: embracing fashion by simply enjoying it on a personal level again”
But it’s not all about sobriety. Post-lockdown, I’ve also enjoyed dressing up, with a newfound penchant for vibrant, shouty colours, bringing in a bit of much-needed peacockery to breathe some life back into what I wear. Strokes of silver and grey have also appeared in my clothing, adding both subtle detailing to my looks as a whole and a gentle elaboration on the neutral backbone of my entire wardrobe. Then there’s the knitwear. I’m a firm believer that a day is always better when you spend it wearing a tactile cashmere sweater from The Row or a cosy knit from Bottega Veneta. So, while the easing of restrictions has signified a departure from the lockdown basics I was so used to wearing, comfort for me is still very much king.
The joy of dressing up again makes me grateful to be back doing what I love the most: embracing fashion by simply enjoying it on a personal level again. The pandemic has helped me reassess my approach to it, symbolising a cathartic new beginning that had me longing to venture out into the wide world again after many gloomy months indoors. It meant taking more risks and being able to find the pleasure in getting ready to leave the house again.
On a base level, it’s meant being given carte blanche with what I wear and I can consider everything from the ground up. I can think afresh about what looks best for events or weddings (even better if there’s a dress code to get my head around). In short, I’ve never felt so ready to be back out there. But now, the type of stuff I choose to wear goes beyond the surface. It’s an emotion, a connection and a social understanding of something more than just “clothes”.