Third of adults stuck in ‘style limbo’ after wearing sweats for past year

NEW YORK — As the world starts to reopen and as people start going out again, more than one in three Americans are facing a big problem: they’re stuck in “style limbo” with their wardrobe.

Thirty-six percent feel like they have “nothing to wear” after 14 months without dressing up for social occasions. During this time, the average American has purged an average of seven items from their wardrobe because they no longer fit.

Post-pandemic Wardrobe

The recent survey of 2,000 Americans looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s fashion choices. Researchers discovered one in 10 completely gave up on dressing fashionably during the pandemic. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of fashion retailer Nordstrom, the study also looked at people’s fashion plans for the fall and post-pandemic life.

Stretchy waist or bust

After a year at home, it’s not surprising that more than half of Americans (52%) say their personal style is now all about being comfortable. In fact, two in five add that following the pandemic, they will dress comfortably for the rest of their lives.

While 35 percent are more open to trying new styles than they were before COVID, they’re now facing multiple hurdles in changing how they dress, including finding clothes that are flattering for their body type (45%) and clothes that fit (43%). When it comes to special occasion outfits, respondents are looking for help finding looks for events (34%), dining out (32%), travel (21%), and work (20%).

“Coming out of the pandemic, people have a chance to reimagine what style means for them and become reacquainted with the joy of fashion,” says Fanya Chandler, senior vice president at Nordstrom, in a statement. “For some, that means adding more comfort to their wardrobe, even as they return to normal. Others are ready to emerge from their homes looking their best and trying something new.”

Post-pandemic Wardrobe

Of those who plan to default to basics, 17 percent want to make like a chameleon and “blend in” before they find their style, while 15 percent believe minimalism is their style or are looking for pieces that are easy to coordinate.

Going back to the grind in style

With opportunities for a style revamp opening up along with offices, working Americans who plan to return to an office this fall are ready to get out of their “comfort” zones and say yes to dress pants (28%), dress shirts (28%), and dresses (26%).

“People are excited to dress up for special occasions again: whether that’s travel, social or work. There is great enthusiasm for celebratory dressing — color, print and new silhouettes,” adds Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s executive vice president general merchandise manager of women’s and men’s apparel. “People are looking for ways to refresh their closets after a year of mostly staying home: from new occasion wear, such as a suit or dress for an upcoming event to new pieces that offer versatility from day to night.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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