Needless to say, coronavirus has monumentally disrupted the fashion landscape—in both positive and negative ways. Companies and consumers alike have had to reassess how the system operates, as well as our attitudes to sustainability and shopping.
While not everyone has had the opportunity to work from home during this time, it has become a standard part of the global workforce over the past few months. And with most people experiencing far less social contact, it's given us time to reflect on how we approach clothing, consumption and personal expression.
Here, three fashion-forward women share their style philosophies and thoughts on dressing in the era of social distancing.
The WFH effect
Some of us have been in leggings and a sweater for the past three months, wondering how we'll ever bring ourselves to wear jeans or makeup again. Others have embraced dressing up as a respite to the monotony of staying in. Ondine Daisy Purinton-Miller, the founder of Alchimiste and a true vintage queen, leans toward the latter.
"I have been trying to make a concerted effort to get dressed every day, no matter what. It might be my Capricorn tendencies, but I get way more done and feel a lot more optimistic about the day if I've made the effort to get dressed," Ondine says. "A typical day as the weather cools has been a chunky cardigan or knit, a turtleneck and a nice baggy pair of jeans. Nothing too tight!"
Model Gee Gee Ferguson opts for comfort when it comes to her WFH look, citing her "Acne grey oversized hooded sweatshirt" as her ultimate iso-piece. Multidisciplinary designer, model and ceramicist Atia Rahim's go-to piece is her "secondhand beige Issey Miyake trousers."
Styling the classics
Whether you're a monochrome minimalist or have a penchant for flamboyant fashion, our style philosophy informs our day-to-day approach to dressing. According to Gee Gee, it's important to "get inspired by the new season but always stay true to your own personal style."
Atia's mood informs her style and how she chooses to express herself. "I dress for the way I want to feel, both physically and emotionally," she says.
A fluid yet self-assured approach is Ondine's MO. "Aesthetically, I have dressed somewhat the same for my entire life. What I like specifically obviously ebbs and flows, but I've always drawn inspiration from different times," she muses. "I love a '20's flapper style silk negligee or a baby-doll dress a la Rosemary's Baby. I really love finding pieces that inspire me and push me to experiment, and I tend to be discerning, so every piece really has a special place in my wardrobe."
While Atia's favourite combination when styling an outfit is, "tonal colours in contrasting textures," Gee Gee loves an "eclectic mix of old and new."
"I love a 70s vintage mix with a retro-inspired statement sneaker. A vintage white lace blouse and my high waisted faded nobody denim jeans are my go-to," she continues.
"I do love a good vintage shirt, paisley, stripe, broderie anglaise…anything! I have a huge jacket/coat problem, so I'll usually pair it back with a vintage suede blazer, or my vintage Prada leather coat," says Ondine.
"I wear a lot of vintage and have acquired quite an extensive collection throughout my entire life. The workmanship is impeccable and timeless. I love the hunt of finding beautiful pieces. Otherwise, I always adore buying from local designers, new small, brands, the classics. During the cooler months, mostly its turtlenecks with the aforementioned jacket, a trusty pair of 501's and a nice boot."
As far as style philosophies go, Atia's is as chic and considered as it gets. "My styling subscribes to the low effort school of thought," she says. "I enjoy giving classic pieces their moment with minimal styling, adding gold earrings and a low bun at most."
The past few months have forced us to further interrogate our approach to consuming fashion. Do we need such extensive wardrobes? Do we shop out of boredom or addiction? Are we dressing for ourselves, others, our online personas?
Atia is an advocate for conscious dressing and values quality, craftsmanship and responsible practices when it comes to the contents of her wardrobe.
"For a while now, I've consciously collected pieces with impact in mind, but COVID-19 has really brought the community and individual responsibility to the forefront and reiterated why shopping consciously is important. So while this experience might not drastically change my approach to buying clothes, it's certainly a welcome reminder to continue being mindful of my consumption and impact," she explains.
Gee Gee's personal style has shifted into the realm of cosy, wearable ensemble's, simply musing that "comfort feels good." She favours a curated collection of versatile pieces and advises "a strong capsule wardrobe is the way to go."
For Ondine, staying home has allowed her to reinforce her attitude towards thoughtful dressing.
"Times like this allows you to be really discerning with what you need/want, what's functional, what holds a special place to you versus what you actually no longer need and what's just taking up valuable wardrobe real-estate," she notes.
"The majority of my clothes are vintage, so you don't find me shopping in malls most of the time. I'm a young person, life is expensive, and very often vintage is the smartest, most affordable way to dress. I try to always shop locally, with my favourite vintage stores, local boutiques or if I am buying new pieces, shopping with Australian designers and not buying fast-fashion."
The pandemic will by no means spell the end of trends and overconsumption. Still, it's certainly given us time to experiment with our individual style and access to a new viewpoint from which to reimagine a more sustainable fashion industry.