Arisha Ali takes a look into a year of unforeseeable events that brought about some unforeseeable trends.
Last year started off with business-as-usual for fashion. We initially saw a continuation of ‘90’s nostalgia that we had seen in 2019, as cropped cardigans, wide-leg trousers, denim jackets, and even Bermuda shorts started hitting the shop floors and runways. However, it didn’t take long for Ms Corona to come along and ruin all our plans.
With the dawn of a pandemic came the potential for a fashion trend to break beyond its usual walls of alt-streetwear: facemasks. While a percentage of people refused to wear facemasks, many embraced the idea of hiding our chin acne. Fashion designers and at-home crafters alike used leftover fabric scraps from last year’s projects to make pretty and colourful options, and we happily matched our outfits with our facemasks. Of course, celebrities joined the fun with Billie Eilish wearing her chic Gucci facemask on the red-carpet and Lady Gaga winning 2020 with her surprisingly functional VMA facemasks.
With limited options to choose from in terms of socialising, almost all of our social interaction came about via video chatting platforms such as Hangouts, Facetime and Zoom. With our lower halves becoming completely irrelevant for the year, we switched out our swanky work trousers, jeans, and heels for cosy sweatpants and bicycle shorts. ‘Zoom Tops’ reigned supreme with our upper bodies still on camera during meetings, classes and interviews. Pretty Peter Pan collars, puff sleeves and mock necks framed our faces in the best way, making sure we were always web-camera-ready.
During the year from hell, Escapism was on-trend. As the cases grew and our mental-health crumbled, we found solace in long prairie dresses, bucolic countryside scenes and Victorian-era necklines. ‘Cottage-core’, initially a fashion subculture, quickly spread to the mainstream via apps like TikTok. ‘Cottage-core’ is an aesthetic that goes hand in hand with an idealised life on a western farm, sustainability, farm animals and gardens. Although this fashion trend started before the outbreak of the pandemic, due to environmental anxiety about our shopping habits, it gained huge popularity in the summer as things became chaotic and out of control. As the second and third wave of the pandemic hit, and we began to settle to the ‘new normal’. It felt especially comforting to put on a floor-length Prairie dress with puffy sleeves and pretend we were retreating to a cottage or farm surrounded by a magical forest.
2020 was a year that felt especially hopeless. As we went through lockdown after lockdown, our pre-pandemic lives became a distant memory. During this tough time, we managed to find small moments of joy and happiness through our fashion choices, be it facemasks, elaborate tops, or pretty dresses. This year showed the freedom self-expression can provide, even when we are trapped inside our houses.