My family knows to leave me alone on Thursdays. That is the day the latest episode of the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That, airs. I’ve devoured each episode like a sugary treat, with each look — no matter how outlandish — filling my style cup to the brim.
After two-ish years of “above the keyboard” dressing, I felt inspired and decided I would dress up for Christmas Eve. I wore a dress … I wore a belt … I wore HEELS! For the first time in forever, I felt put together and styled. This familiar feeling was warmly welcomed… and lasted all of 30 minutes. Shortly after the appetizers were served, I was unconformable and experiencing dress-up regret. I had a bad case of “FOMOOC” (fear of missing out on comfort), and didn’t even make it past dessert, changing into my cousin’s sweatpants before the Christmas cookies hit the table.
It appears that I was in the minority of those who got dressed up for the holidays. Although dress sales in the U.S. increased versus 2020, they declined each week in December compared to 2019. Sleepwear sales, on the other hand, continued to soar, experiencing double-digit growth the week before Christmas. This leaves me to wonder (cue internal Carrie Bradshaw voiceover): as we slip back into our quarantine comfort, will we ever reemerge?
Last spring was akin to a great awakening in the fashion world. Consumers eyed their “going out apparel” in the back of their closets, and for their own reasons — whether the clothing no longer fit, or it felt dated — they wanted a wardrobe refresh. In the press we read about a resurgence of the roaring 20’s, a return to socialization, and a collective need to dress up. Last year we began to go out again, but consumers re-wrote the dress code; sweats, tees, active bottoms, and sports bras were some of the biggest revenue gainers in the U.S. apparel industry in 2021.
To look ahead, we need to revisit what happened last spring and summer to anticipate what the first half of 2022 will look like. If there is anything we have clearly learned over these past two years, it is that comfort is the leading decider of what we are wearing. In the latest NPD Omnibus survey, 43% of U.S. consumers told us they miss getting dressed up, but this is down 11 points from when we first asked this same question in September 2020. However, with an influx of trends and styles coming from streaming shows including And Just Like That and Emily in Paris, consumers are looking to adapt these trends without sacrificing the versatility and comfort they have gotten used to.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this spring and summer “literally” has in-store. We’ll (once again) get back to parties and social gatherings. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t comfortably run around NYC in a floor length tulle skirt or a pair of Terry de Havilland double-stacked platforms, but maybe a nap dress will do.