Pants-less Zoom Presentations and Full-Glam ’Fits: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Fashion
It’s been two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything about our lives has changed, from the ways we eat to the ways we get around. The way we dress has changed as well. With nowhere to go and no one to see, many of us have adopted a much more casual look—perhaps a little too casual, as attested by the many headlines of public figures accidentally revealing that they were not wearing pants during a Zoom session. But has everyone adopted a more lax sense of style during these unprecedented times? We reached out to UWindsor students and alumni to get a better understanding of how the pandemic has affected the public’s sartorial tastes. Read more below.
Program: First-Year Honours Psychology Student
Zelia’s Style in her Words: I’d say my style is very basic, but I like to try and spice it up by wearing jewelry, painting my jeans, and wearing funky socks. I love wearing jeans, and my favorite pair are black with painted spider webs on them. If I’m wearing mom jeans, I will cuff the bottoms and wear socks with crazy patterns and pictures on them, like hotdogs on a bright green background or polar bears on skis, and I’ll usually pair them with high-top shoes. I also like to wear crop tops with some type of zip-up, flannel, or button-up over top.
The Pandemic’s Influence: The pandemic has gotten me to express myself more, especially since I could test out outfits more around my house before I wore them out in public. Before, I was scared to wear crop-tops and tight clothes in public because my self-confidence was so low. I think what really helped my confidence was my friends because they were so supportive of the style choices I made. And because we have had to wear masks, I think I felt better because I wouldn’t be recognized as easily and could wear what I wanted. Before the pandemic, I mostly wore hoodies and leggings because I was too scared to try anything else. Baggy clothes were my go-to, and I never really wore jeans, skirts, dresses, or anything fun because I didn’t want to look “stupid” in public. But now I wear what I want, including skirts and dresses, because I’ve had a big confidence boost.
Program: English Language and Literature Alum
Emma’s Style in her Words: My favourite places to buy clothes are thrift stores because I can find unique pieces, but I’m a bit of a chameleon when it comes to style. I enjoy changing aesthetics often, but my favourites are grunge, academia, 70s-inspired, and streetwear.
The Pandemic’s Influence: The pandemic has significantly changed how I dress on a day-to-day basis. I used to wear makeup every single day and get dressed up to go to school. I loved wearing skirts and skinny jeans. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in sweatpants or jogging pants, but now those are my favourite things to wear. I’ll never wear skinny jeans again. Comfort is now my top priority when it comes to fashion.
Program: Honours Biology and Psychology Alum
Fatima’s Style in her Words: My personal style has always been very random. I love fashion trends but I live in sweatpants most of the time, unless I have to get dressed up for an event or to meet friends. I would say that social media plays a huge role in what clothes I decide to buy. These days, TikTok fashion trends revolve around saving money and having a capsule wardrobe, so I’ve been really invested in getting long-lasting basics. I’ve also hopped on the activewear bandwagon, so the majority of my wardrobe now comprises of matching activewear sets. I love wearing neutral colours for casual days, but I also love wearing vibrant and bright colours on days where I actually feel like putting in effort. I’m also really big on hair accessories—especially scrunchies.
The Pandemic’s Influence: Because of the pandemic, I’ve mostly stayed home, so I haven’t shopped for clothes as much as I did in the past. If I do buy clothing, it’s usually clothing that’s comfortable and something that I would have worn to run errands before the pandemic. In the past, I would still dress relatively comfortably for long days on campus, but I would put in more effort to make myself look presentable. It’s difficult getting back to “normal” clothing that isn’t sweatpants or two-piece comfy sets.
Program: Media Art Histories and Visual Culture Alum
Inès’ Style in her Words: I wouldn’t say I have a personal style per se, it changes on the daily and can be quite random. I could be ultra-feminine in a vintage slip dress and lace and bow tights one day and then look like a twelve-year-old boy in Adidas shorts and an oversized t-shirt the next. I also like including pieces that completely contradict the vibe of the rest of the ’fit, which creates a sort of juxtaposition. I love the colour cream and variations of white, and I’m usually wearing a vintage slip dress with an oversized t-shirt.
The Pandemic’s Influence: Throughout the pandemic lockdowns, I really put no effort into the way I dressed, so an average outfit was just an oversized t-shirt or sweatshirt. This has translated into a more laissez-faire athleisure approach to getting dressed when leaving the house for mundane activities. One drastic change I’ve noticed is that my outfits are less matchy-matchy in terms of colour palette and a bit more haphazard. I’ve also noticed that now, when I do have plans to go out with friends, I feel much more compelled to dress up and look ridiculous in an almost performative type of way.
Program: Second-Year International Relations Student
Sarah’s Style in her Words: First and foremost, I am a hijabi, so I stick with modesty in my attire. All of my outfits consist of a hijab and a dress since I don’t think skirts really suit me. In terms of my dresses, I don’t really wear anything fancy, it’s mostly casual or semi-formal. It’s a bit difficult to describe a dress as casual though, since people usually think of dresses as something fancy that you wear to an event.
Another thing I want to point out is that I don’t wear much black. A common misconception is that hijabis only wear black, which is not really the case. Of course, anyone is free to wear whatever colours they like, but hijabis don’t just wear the black Niqab and Abaya ensemble that people envision when they think of women in Saudi Arabia. I also want to clear the misconception that Islamic clothing for women is outdated and only looks one way. There are plenty of ways that you can abide by the religious rulings and still have creative freedom in the way you dress. I would say that I like neutrals for my dress and a softer or brighter colour for my hijab. I do wear patterns from time to time, but recently I’ve gravitated more towards neutrals. My hijab is also styled in a way that I sort of have a cape.
The Pandemic’s Influence: At the beginning of the pandemic, it was tricky to buy clothes since I was a total newbie when it came to online shopping. I was super hesitant since I wasn’t used to purchasing clothes that I hadn’t tried on in the fitting room first. Eventually, I got used to it and have enjoyed the variety available with online shopping. I’ve definitely diversified my wardrobe in terms of the styles and components of my clothing. I also have to say that I’m very privileged to be able to shop online because the pandemic has caused a lot of financial stress for many.