Throughout history, fashion has often reacted to times of crisis, not only providing a source of escapism but also leading to innovation and creativity.
During the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, surgical face masks became a staple item worn at all times both indoors and outdoors due to their essential protection. Escapist fashion of the 1930s and 40s originated from an epoch of political upheaval and future uncertainty.
‘Escape and Evade’ maps were printed onto durable silk during the 1940s to be easily concealed under soldiers’ clothing. These maps were then re-used to produce items of clothing post-WWII, when fabrics were still being rationed.
The same can be seen happening today in 2020, as the the pandemic that we are now finding ourselves in will undoubtedly initiate a shift in how we interpret fashion.
One of the first major trends has been our desire to create and upcycle our own clothes. As the nation went into lockdown and faced not only boredom but reduced furlough induced bank balances, suddenly, social media feeds became full of super sewing bees. Tye dye proved particularly popular, as aside from being colourful and relatively simple to do at home, it has allowed people to bring out the kid in them.
Unfortunately for me despite my love of fashion and having a mum who is honestly the best person at sewing ever…I have no desire to sew my own clothes. This dates back to when I was ten and I had a “hand sewing” accident where I tried to re-thread the needle on the sewing machine…let’s just say there was an accident leading to the needle going straight through my thumb and me delegating all my consequent sewing jobs to mum.
Thankfully, for me and the other less sewing inclined fashionistas, coronavirus has seen people embrace their love of fashion and had fun in other ways.
Now, In my “normal” life (that time when we could get closer than two metres, escape the house more than once a day and the weekly food shop wasn’t the social event of the season)I’d have great fun picking my outfits when I’d get dressed up for work and go with friends. But when I found out I was on Furlough and I wasn’t going to work and meeting friends was taken away from me, I wasn’t ready for the fun of picking my outfits to be taken too.
So, each day of lockdown I’ve still got up (true a little later than my normal work alarm time) picked a nice outfit and got set for the day, whether that’s been to just go for my daily walk, try my hand at yet another baking fail or have a zoom chat with friends.
However, even with these bargain buys, I’ve been able to express a creativity, maintain a sense of normality and ultimately boost my positivity – why?
So, we’ve all heard of the phrase power dressing? Well, I believe clothes truly have the power to boost your productivity. The secret to ensuring a level of productivity, particularly in uncertain times like these, is having a good routine and where does our routine start? Getting dressed! One of the easiest and simplest parts of a routine to implement is ensuring that you change out of your PJs and into different clothes for working in. By doing this it’s been proven that psychologically you become conditioned to associate the changing of clothes with a new mindset, preparing you for the day ahead.
Clothes to stop you from going crazy
Okay, maybe I’m not the best advert for this as most people think I’m pretty mental, but I truly believe that just by putting on a nice outfit instead of staying in your PJS we can escape some negative connotations associated with it. I think this is so important because behaving in a certain way like lazy and demotivated which in turn leads to a lack of productivity and low activity levels, and consequently starts to create a negative vicious cycle.
Clothes to connect
Clothes have also provided me a great way to connect with friends, family and strangers throughout this crisis. Of course, like half (okay probably 3/4 ) of the population, I’ve spent a lot of lockdown on social media and some of my favourite hashtags to follow have been #DressUpFriday #Outfitoftheday #Outfitinspiration these have not only provided me with a much needed escapism from all the Corona craziness but allowed me to connect with like minded fashion lovers and get ideas for looks I want to create.
Closer to home, fashion has also allowed me to connect with family and friends by embracing my love of fancy dress. Again like most the nation we’ve been doing family virtual quizzes and of course mine have been fancy dress. And where in normal life getting a costume would be a quick and easy job of going to the shop, the creativity that has come of creating something from the home has not only been so much more fun but brought us even closer together.
So, coronavirus might be making us more creative, sustainable and connected with our couture but whatever happens my passion for fashion will never go into lockdown.