Sweatpants Forever
August 10, 2020 2:56 AM   Subscribe

Even before the pandemic, the whole US fashion industry had started to unravel. What happens now that no one has a reason to dress up? (NYT).

Some choice quotes:
If in the last decade you’ve gone looking for a simple cashmere sweater and instead encountered ones with zippers, giant animal faces, glitter shoulders or “distressed” anything — that’s novelty. If you found yourself annoyed, you were not alone. “That was so we could sell to Saks, Neiman, Barneys, Nordstrom, Colette, and everybody could have their own special thing,” Sternberg recalled. “I was basically making stuff I didn’t like because I thought a buyer wanted it, not even the customer.”
and
So detrimental was the cycle of overproduction and discounting to luxury goods that in 2018, Burberry, the British label, revealed that it had been burning — not metaphorically but literally: burning — $37 million of worth of merchandise per year to maintain “brand value.”
and
fashion might go the way of other industries, like film, in which there are the blockbusters and the tiny indies and nothing in between. “Band didn’t need to be a $100 million brand,” Sternberg said. “But is there a place for a $30 million brand that can self-sustain and be around year after year? Certainly not with big backers, because that’s not interesting to them. Wholesale used to be able to support that, but it also ultimately killed it.”
If you've used up your NYT reads this month, here is a link to the unlocked article.
posted by adrianhon (188 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Interesting read, and thank you for the unlocked link. The irrationality of the fashion industry (especially the Frankenseasonality and the waste) is unnerving.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:59 AM on August 10, 2020 [10 favorites]


I kind of appreciate the artistic side of fashion, but damn was the industry overdue for a reckoning.
posted by Foosnark at 5:03 AM on August 10, 2020 [26 favorites]


It's sure curing the lie of "I just like to dress up!" No you don't, if you did for real you'd be doing that now.

I know people who actually like to dress fancy, and they are still dressing up. I have a friend who texts me weekly selfies because she enjoys clothes and makeup and sharing that with others.

And then on the other side of things we have a whole lot of folks like this one particular co-worker of mine who made occasional sneering comments about my 98% jersey knit wardrobe, who came to our dress code free work every day in slacks/etc, clearly having ironed his clothes. Now? I'd be shocked if you told me he's even bathed since March, let alone put on a shirt with a collar. These people don't like dressing up, they just enjoy being able to wear signifiers of their superiority.

Color me shocked that an industry propped up by people who are lying themselves into buying $250 t-shirts can't support itself indefinitely.
posted by phunniemee at 5:09 AM on August 10, 2020 [38 favorites]


In The Before, I wore a dress to work almost every day, including Fridays when most people were even more casual than their usual, because I liked dressing up for work. I am fat, and it was a way to get people to view me as well-dressed instead of sloppy and gross while still being reasonably comfortable (because trouser waistbands, ugh). And now I own a giant collection of leggings and oversized sweaters because if other people can't see me they can't judge me. Does that make me some kind of hypocrite? I think it is okay to want to look nice in front of other people.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:17 AM on August 10, 2020 [173 favorites]


Thank-you for such an interesting read. Fashion is such an interesting one because so many people love it, not because they need it to live but because it makes them happy. I agree with Jacquilynne that there's nothing hypocritical about wanting to look nice in front of other people, and not worrying when they're not there. I hope the future contains a more sustainable model for this industry. I feel for the people who have lost their employment in this sector, designers and people in the factories both.
posted by Braeburn at 5:22 AM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


This was a super-interesting business story, and it did make me wonder whether there are similar dynamics at work in other industries or whether it's mostly just the particular weird things about fashion. (I have some concerns about direct-to-consumer as a solution to fashion's woes, even though I've bought most of my clothes that way for a while. But if you don't have a body like a model, and you're not exclusively buying sweatpants, you're going to want to try things on, and that's easiest and most efficient if you go to a brick-and-mortar store.) But I also really appreciated the point that there's an additional stumbling-block for direct-to-consumer firms, and that's that it's hard to get funding unless you promise a level of growth that isn't sustainable. That seems to be a problem across the board, and it's one reason that I'm really skeptical that VC-funded direct-to-consumer sales is the future of retail. I think, sadly, that total dominance by Amazon may be the future of retail, and that's a depressing thought.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:44 AM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: Interesting you mention that, since the reason I spotted the article was via Mike Bithell, who drew a link to unsustainable practices in the games industry. I think there's an issue not only with the spiralling budgets at AAA games studios but also indies and hypercasual game designers working themselves to the bone for scant return.
posted by adrianhon at 5:49 AM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


I have wondered if there will be a long-term impact on dress code expectations for white collar workers, after so many will have spent so long working from home. People make jokes about wearing a nice shirt only for video calls (but with pajamas or sweatpants below), as well as shifting like jacquilynne describes from structured clothes to stretchy/loose clothes almost entirely. Someone I know did have to get dressed up in a full suit and tie for an important video conference, which seemed ridiculous for someone sitting in their home office.

The point made just above about the expectation of unsustainable growth is key, along with the pull quote in the FPP about "fashion might go the way of other industries, like film, in which there are the blockbusters and the tiny indies and nothing in between".
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Part of the point of the article, though, is that the pandemic isn't really driving fashion's collapse: it's just hastening a thing that was already happening. And it was happening in large part because of the unsustainable demands of brick-and-mortar stores, which were facing their own very serious crisis and responded by making demands on designers that the designers couldn't fulfill while maintaining quality. And the solution to that seems to be to bypass the brick-and-mortar stores entirely and do direct-to-consumer sales over the internet. But then you have to deal with the demands of the people who fund internet startups, which can also be unsustainable while maintaining quality.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:13 AM on August 10, 2020 [25 favorites]


I remember so vividly when seasons got completely out of sync in fashion, because it was when I was constantly pregnant, so in February I'd try to go buy a coat and some pants that would accommodate my growing belly and it was all floaty spring dresses and I'd deliver a baby in July and try to buy post-partum clothes for summer and it was NOTHING BUT WINTER PANTS AND SWEATERS. It was so intensely frustrating! I sort-of gave up at that point and bought maternity clothes at thrift stores and acquired 10 identical shirts from Land's End, two pairs of jeans, and one pair of shorts, and wore that rotation for the next four years.

It's even more aggravating with children's clothes, because they grow so fast. One June I went to get a swimsuit for a toddler, and swimsuits were already clearanced or gone. At places like Target and Old Navy! And yeah, schmancy children's stores are already starting to show winter holiday outfits and I don't know how big my kids are going to be in five months!

The year we had the polar vortex in Chicago, I went to Target to get some kids' mittens in January (kids lose SO MANY MITTENS) and couldn't find them anywhere. Ask the kids' clothes manager, and he said, "Oh, we're sold out." "When are more coming in?" "They aren't, they're shipping spring now; we can't get them." I was just like, are you kidding me? It's January! In one of the harshest cold snaps we've had in decades! And winter outerwear in cold climates are literally necessary to NOT DIE. But the fashion cycle said January meant shopping for spring clothes. (I ended up paying 47 bazillion dollars at REI for my kids to get expensive mittens to lose repeatedly; I didn't have a choice! Nowhere else had them!)

Anyway, I have noticed that mass-market kids' clothing retailers have slowed down the turnover somewhat and you can get winter and summer things much longer in the actually seasons they belong to than you could a few years ago.

I enjoy fashion as a spectator sport (though I am not fashionable myself), so I'm very interested to see what happens to the couture houses and the mass-market retailers, because, yeah, between the retail apocalypse and the DTC lines and influencers and fast fashion, everything was distorting in weird directions to preserve a very expensive business model that was being disrupted from every direction.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:18 AM on August 10, 2020 [74 favorites]


and it did make me wonder whether there are similar dynamics at work in other industries
It does feel analogous to the pandemic reckoning for fine dining. Consider other industries that leverage luxury and aspiration, and what happens when they get hit by an event that prevents consumption from being conspicuous. One could make an argument that the restaurant industry was also hitting a dangerously unsustainable growth trend, but fashion feels like it's been crazy for a much longer time.

I'd be curious to see how our society transforms if something like periodic respiratory pandemics become a part of our lives for the next 20 years, the way that the Black Death lingered for a century after its outbreak. Will we just find other ways to show off and perform to others? Or will all of this isolation permanently transform what we use to comfort ourselves?
posted by bl1nk at 6:18 AM on August 10, 2020 [14 favorites]


I used to have an office job where it was casual but hip (advertising) so I have a closet full of casual, cool office clothes. I, too liked to dress up just a bit to look nice. Especially because there was a contingency of very young people who loved to flaunt the casual dress code (sloppy, shorts, ripped jeans, hockey jerseys (!) basically anything goes) and as an older guy I liked to at least look like I was trying.

So now I never wear the stuff except for weekends if I visit my folks. Some of it is I just don't care, much, much of it is that it has been unusually hot and I sweat profusely. And another part of it is in my head I'm "saving" those clothes from getting worn out by normal use, laundering/drying.

When it cools down in the fall, I'll likely whip out some of my nicer clothing. But yes, I also fell into the "too much clothing" habit and the pandemic has altered that part of my headspace, probably permanently.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:28 AM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


One of my old roommates worked her way into a job as a textile designer with Michael Kors (she got a temp gig as their receptionist, was hired as the receptionist for the design department, and sort of worked her way over there). She actually had a fantastic attitude towards "fashion" - it was like a daily game of dress-up. If you wanted to wear a feather boa as an accessory with a Chanel blazer and tweed pants, if that was what made you happy, go for it. If all you were feeling was jeans and a white t-shirt, then rock on. That kind of attitude towards fashion, I think, is spot-on - you are decorating yourself and playing, using yourself as the canvas. Having to operate within a company dress code is just like putting additional advanced-level obstacles on it.

....I hope she's okay right now....

Me, I'm more like what Gilda Radner said - "I base my fashion taste on whatever doesn't itch."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on August 10, 2020 [26 favorites]


It's sure curing the lie of "I just like to dress up!" No you don't, if you did for real you'd be doing that now.

I really like dressing up, but that doesn't mean I overdress to the point I feel out of place; it means I dress at the more formal end of the range of dress in the culture around me. It means, for instance, that when I switched jobs to an office with a much more casual atmosphere, I quit wearing a suit and tie, because that would have been literally dressier than the CEO. But I was sad about it (heck, I still am years later). I wasn't lying when I told people before that I liked dressing up. Now I'm dressing down even a bit more, 'cause I'm not gonna call into a zoom with cuffed sleeves when most everyone else is in t-shirts. Maybe those people who aren't dressing up now are making that choice because they see that the norm has shifted, and they don't want to feel out of place. And maybe they are sad about it without having lied.

I really enjoyed this article, it gave some real insight into an industry about which, outside of trends in men's business wear at least, I knew pretty much only two things: 1) I'm convinced that if I ever met Tim Gunn, we'd have an absolute blast together, and 2) if Hugo Boss sells it, I will probably want it, but I definitely won't be able to afford it.
posted by solotoro at 6:55 AM on August 10, 2020 [22 favorites]


I have a lot of dresses I love, which were my daily workwear, accompanied by leggings and cardigans, depending on the season. They are relatively casual and comfortable, so there's no reason I couldn't wear them to work at home, but I still basically wear t-shirts and leggings in front of my laptop. I realized the big difference for me is cooling -- my office is so air conditioned that you really need more clothes, and my work-at-home space is sunny (and I'm paying for the AC myself, too), so t-shirts it is right now. Since I am working at home for the foreseeable future, I don't know what I'm going to do with my larger wardrobe.
posted by heurtebise at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


It's nice to have nice clothes and look nice, but fashion is basically planned obsolescence. So it's unsustainable on its face, and on its way out anyway as we encounter the limits to growth. If pandemic accelerated that, I'm okay with that. I buy the classics and express my individuality in other ways.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2020 [25 favorites]


I work in a white collar job. There is an expected dress code, or was in the Before Times. And absolutely none of it had any bearing on the actual work--I get paid for my thought processes and existing knowledge, not for my fashion skills. But there is a "professional" standard (a very white, male standard of course) and there is this shared expectation--I might even say a delusion--and that you're somehow a lesser thinker if you wear jeans instead of wool pants, or if your shirt is wrinkled but comfortable. If the pandemic destroys that nonsense--well, it won't have been any net benefit and I would gladly make a deal with the devil to wear a tie everyday for none of this to have ever happened. But I wouldn't be sorry to see such collective "wisdom" be discarded.

When there's a true safety requirement--steel toe boots in the shop, no loose clothing near the lathe--yeah then you need dress codes. Or when the job demand is to look good--say, on the red carpet. Sure, makes sense there.
But too many jobs have that as a requirement when it has nothing to do with the work whatsoever.

Now, no shade on those of you who like to dress fancy. You do you!
posted by stevis23 at 7:18 AM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


Even before the pandemic, the whole US fashion industry had started to unravel.

Oh no!

>It's sure curing the lie of "I just like to dress up!" No you don't, if you did for real you'd be doing that now.

I follow a Facebook page which posts older photos (say, 1900-1960ish) photos from my hometown. The most common single comment is beneath photos of any now-demolished building, be it an architectural gem or a rat-infested fire trap, where commenters sigh "They never should of torn this down!!!!" A very close second is photos of pedestrians on the sidewalks of downtown from, say, the 1940s: many gents in slim suits and fedoras, ladies in pearls and white gloves... the comments are inevitably, "I miss the days when people dressed up to go downtown."

My immediate thought is, "What keeps you from getting dressed up to go downtown? Is this not the same as guys telling random women to smile more?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:31 AM on August 10, 2020 [30 favorites]


Just on the point about basics ending up covered in zips and rhinestones and all other kinds of crap, this was one of the trifecta of factors that drove me to switch to only wearing men's clothes (the others being the realisation that my preferred gender expression is androgynous-towards-masculine and the fact that I can buy men's clothes off the rack in straight sizes whereas in women's clothes my body could only be reasonably accommodated by plus sizes [psst, guys, it's the same body]). My natural taste is extremely plain and basic and the litany of crap that would come attached to clothes ostensibly marketed as basics was outrageous.

I also have a bunch of sensory issues not always catered to by mainstream clothing manufacturing (or sometimes even by sensory specialists, e.g. my issue with socks isn't the seams but the front part of the heel feeling way too tight across the front of my foot/ankle which even sensory socks don't always cater for), so the more crap you hang off a shirt, the more likely it is to tip me into "cannot tune out constant sensory unpleasantness" mode, which is not a great place for getting other things done. I once drove to work having neglected to cut off the tiny piece of plastic that holds the store tags on a new pair of trousers, and I could barely concentrate on the road because of the intensity of the sensation of a piece of plastic maybe a millimetre wide rubbing against my leg.

That's not to say there aren't still issues with men's clothing (or rigidly-gendered clothing in general) - I would particularly love to see more vibrant colours rather than everything marketed at men being dark, neutral or a toned-down muddied version of an actual colour, but it is possible in the men's section at least to buy a plain soft long-sleeved shirt with no additional decoration and a plain jumper to go on top of it without fear of surprise chains or pom poms. If the trend for crap-laden clothing dies in this same fashion industry gasp, it will be a struggle for me to mourn it even as I do feel sorry for the folks losing their livelihoods in the process.
posted by terretu at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2020 [17 favorites]


I have so many good shoes for outside the home that now spend even more of their time doing nothing because I never leave anymore. I can’t justify more fun shoes because these have no miles on them, and yet I really want my fancy shoe places to keep making shoes.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:35 AM on August 10, 2020 [13 favorites]


Burberry, the British label, revealed that it had been burning — not metaphorically but literally: burning — $37 million of worth of merchandise per year to maintain “brand value.”

Ah, like the way grocery stores put unsaleable leftovers into locked dumpsters (thankfully becoming more and more illegal, though only after churches and such offered to take the food and distribute it "properly"), so that people would not be able to get the "seconds" at a discounted price.

Or like the way there are tons of empty storefronts in places such as Manhattan and Boston, because the landlords would rather have them empty than lower the perceived value of the rent.

This was a super-interesting business story, and it did make me wonder whether there are similar dynamics at work in other industries or whether it's mostly just the particular weird things about fashion. ... But I also really appreciated the point that there's an additional stumbling-block for direct-to-consumer firms, and that's that it's hard to get funding unless you promise a level of growth that isn't sustainable.

Yup, this is all just standard late-stage capitalism. I remember some time in the early 90s, when I felt terrible about having to get rid of my nice 10-year-old television set, because it still worked just fine. Aren't we supposed to wait until things are completely broken before replacing them? Now we're supposed to buy a $1,000 phone every two years. None of this is sustainable, and the reckoning will come. Perhaps not as fast as we would like, but sometimes things like pandemics help.
posted by Melismata at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2020 [25 favorites]


The sped-up calendar gave birth to “seasonless dressing,” a trend of Frankenstein clothing items: toeless boots, sleeveless coats — you get it.

No. I don’t get it. I don’t understand how these relate. Although I’d love to blame the puffy vest on this.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:50 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Oh god, shoes. For the first three months of the pandemic, I bought shoes more often than I wore shoes. Since then, I've been leaving the house more for short walks and also online shopping less. But some of the shoes I bought were optimistic 'ooh, finally, the perfect nude office flat!' purchases that I haven't worn since I got them because I bought them to wear in a circumstance that no longer exists. The only shoes I do wear regularly are canvas skechers.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


I love dressing up, but what is the point in quarantine when you're alone, when you don't want to get more clothes dirty when you're afraid to go to the laundromat, and nobody sees you to know what you're doing a lot of the time? Like I may put on a shirt if I have a Zoom meeting where I am consenting to show my face that day, but otherwise I am wearing the same gym clothes for days on end because why bother to change them. Hell, I only put on a shirt because I quit shaving (again, why bother) and I can't stand to look at my hairy pits on camera. I put on a Christmas shirt the other day and then was all "who fucking cares." Dressing up is a way to celebrate life, in a way, and who needs to do that any more?

Though I can say that since I am doing online plays, my Renaissance Faire wardrobe is getting a lot of use these days. So there's something, I guess.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:54 AM on August 10, 2020 [17 favorites]


Oh, and also: I have solved all of my fashion problems * by learning to sew. According to the local fabric stores, sewing, and other craft hobbies, are really huge right now, woo-hoo! Perhaps more people will realize that it really doesn't make sense to buy a $1,000 cashmere sweater when a nice one can be made for $80.

* I have 1) skin sensory issues and 2) a strangely shaped, overweight body. The ability to make a shapely cut out of a nice jersey knit is FANTASTIC. Just sayin' ...

This is not to suggest that you're a bad person if you're not able to learn to sew, my point is just that this could be another reckoning for the fashion industry.
posted by Melismata at 7:59 AM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


I like putting on boots. It's not uncommon these days to be wearing what amounts to PJs with Doc Martens.
posted by signal at 8:00 AM on August 10, 2020 [13 favorites]


All my regular office clothes have dust on them. I have been wearing the same pair of sandals for three months.

I do wear nice tops for business presentations but that's it. And change back to tshirts right after.

Going back to the office wear is going to be weird but I'm pretty sure it will be required.
posted by emjaybee at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Burberry is burning clothes to stop poor people getting them. If you lived in the UK in the early 2000s, you might remember it as anything but a luxury brand.
posted by scruss at 8:14 AM on August 10, 2020 [19 favorites]


> The ability to make a shapely cut out of a nice jersey knit is FANTASTIC.

At the beginning of quarantine a friend gave me a serger he wasn't using. I have made ALL THE SWEATSHIRTS. I'm spending more on novelty-pattern knits than I would on a hoodie from a store, and I don't care.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:15 AM on August 10, 2020 [10 favorites]


So detrimental was the cycle of overproduction and discounting to luxury goods that in 2018, Burberry, the British label, revealed that it had been burning — not metaphorically but literally: burning — $37 million of worth of merchandise per year to maintain “brand value.”

With the full and complete understanding that food and clothing are different Maslovian levels, I present this excerpt from Steinbeck:
The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country. Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:25 AM on August 10, 2020 [84 favorites]


I've always embraced the GenX grunge-rock, er, "fashion". It's ironic that these days my CEO, my VPs, all of management, is in t-shirts, tracksuits, etc. Now when I wear a button-up guayabera I am suddenly horribly overdressed and look conspicuously out-of-place on a call. Just six months ago I was the fashion no-no slob. Good times.
posted by riverlife at 8:30 AM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


I hate cooking. But if someone told me they love to cook, and are sad because it's not the same doing a quarantine meal for one instead of making a big group dinner, I'd believe them.

I can't carry a tune in a bucket. But if someone told me they love singing, and are sad because singing in the shower isn't as much fun as doing a gig in bar, I'd believe them too.

It's not a lie to like doing something for and with other people, that you don't really like doing at home on your own.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:34 AM on August 10, 2020 [136 favorites]


I do dress up in Quarantine. To an extent, at least. Part of it is gender-related. I feel more comfortable in my skin if I put on a cute, feminine outfit. Part of it is a need to look vaguely presentable on Zoom calls, both professional and social. Part of it is just that I really don't like sweatpants, and other baggy, "comfortable" clothes—I actually feel ugly and uncomfortable in those. I'm happiest and most comfortable when I'm dressed in a way that affirms my gender identity and with clothes that are somewhat fitted.
posted by SansPoint at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2020 [13 favorites]


If one no longer has an incentive be fashionable because we aren’t in front of others maybe we can add some flair to our comments ₍˶ˆ꒳ˆ˶₎✼:♡*゚✿ ☆⌒★⌒☆⌒★⌒☆⌒★⌒☆ .·͙*̩̩͙˚̩̥̩̥*̩̩̥͙ ✩ *̩̩̥͙˚̩̥̩̥*̩̩͙‧͙ .
posted by Going To Maine at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


Blink tags plz
posted by Going To Maine at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2020 [14 favorites]


The fashion industry in the US has people convinced they need to buy a lot of clothing cheaply-made in sweatshops, and dispose of it pretty promptly in favor of new colors, new styles, etc. it fuels a ridiculous amount of waste that floods poor countries and kills their clothing and fabric industries. It's hard to buy simple, comfortable, well-made clothing in a good selection of sizes. I've opted out as much as I can, except I keep gaining weight and having to create new wardrobes, sigh. Sorry to see people losing jobs, but it's hard to feel about about a pause in this industry.
posted by theora55 at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


I have worn the same five shirts, three sets of shorts, and one set of sandals, on continuous rotation since March and it has been fantastic.

Easily one of the best things about the plague years.
(having to constantly resist the urge to day-drink after reading the news has been one of the worst)
posted by aramaic at 9:11 AM on August 10, 2020 [19 favorites]


I've had a WFH wardrobe of one specific model of t-shirt and varying pants for years, but the SoCal summer is coming on and I'm just going full kaftan now. Once there's a vaccine and I can leave my home again, I am pretty sure the kaftans are coming with me.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:18 AM on August 10, 2020 [14 favorites]


In this 90°F weather I too have been wearing the same three sets of jersey knit shorts and tank tops, with no bra (praise the lord hallelujah). I made the shorts too, which is nice (POCKETS!!). All this to say that the fashion industry is probably getting great research results on how much sweat * a piece of jersey knit can actually hold before it turns into straw; perhaps they will use this as a marketing gimmick: hey, it won't shrink, even after 5,000 hours of literally continuous wear!

* It's not just 90°F, my hot flashes have really ramped up during the pandemic for some reason...
posted by Melismata at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


the comments are inevitably, "I miss the days when people dressed up to go downtown." My immediate thought is, "What keeps you from getting dressed up to go downtown? Is this not the same as guys telling random women to smile more?"

There's an enormous difference between getting dressed up and being the only one who does it and getting dressed up while everybody else is getting dressed up.

Wearing a prom dress to the grocery store is an entirely different experience from wearing a prom dress to the prom.
posted by straight at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2020 [41 favorites]


If everyone is on sweatpants on zoom, does this count as plain living?
posted by The Ted at 9:22 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Two years ago I had a dozer pair of black twill cargopants and a bunch of dark t-shirts and a black flat cap. I really just didn't want to be seen.

Today I have about a dozen Macabi skirts and a bunch of brightly coloured t-shirts, some colourful wraps and a shoulder bag and a white wide brim sun hat.

Since I came out as non-binary I'm still wearing a "uniform" of very similar, long-wearing, useful clothes. They're just a lot more colourful. And I don't hide any more.

There's no fashion in what I wear. It's all style, baby. Fabulous is never finding the latest fashion -- fabulous is finding your own style and owning it.

Slay, my friends, slay.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:30 AM on August 10, 2020 [40 favorites]


If everyone who didn’t like clothes for clothes’ sake uses this to switch the norm to comfy-schlubby, the chances of young rebellious people adopting extremely tailored or structured clothes surely goes way up. And they need to be fitted, so mass production isn’t likely to do it.

The cosplay world might. I can live in hope.
posted by clew at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


I work in tech so I dress exactly the same as I would if I were going to work with the exception of shoes.
posted by octothorpe at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


The thing is, I think this article is not primarily about the preferences of consumers. It's pretty clear that the dying system was not serving the interests of consumers, any more than it was serving the interests of designers. It wasn't even serving what consumers perceived to be their interests: the author isn't really talking about fast fashion, and trying to buy clothes at an even-slightly-higher-than-fast-fashion price point has been endlessly frustrating for a while now. This mess was a mess for absolutely everyone, and the hope is that we can replace it with something that works at least slightly better.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:39 AM on August 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


So am I to understand from these comments that other people are wearing clothes at all while stuck at home? Or wearing pants with their shirt during video calls?
posted by star gentle uterus at 9:46 AM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


The thing is, I think this article is not primarily about the preferences of consumers. It's pretty clear that the dying system was not serving the interests of consumers, any more than it was serving the interests of designers. It wasn't even serving what consumers perceived to be their interests: the author isn't really talking about fast fashion, and trying to buy clothes at an even-slightly-higher-than-fast-fashion price point has been endlessly frustrating for a while now. This mess was a mess for absolutely everyone, and the hope is that we can replace it with something that works at least slightly better.

It's the exact same reason you never see mid-budget movies anymore - The People In Charge are only interested in something that can turn a $100 million profit, so a movie that costs $15 million and makes $40 million is considered to be a total waste of time. Most of the well-regarded movies from 20+ years ago would never have been made today, because they didn't have a massive existing IP behind them so they weren't sure-fire money factories.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:53 AM on August 10, 2020 [28 favorites]


star gentle uterus: I can't speak for everyone in this thread, but I mostly haven't been wearing pants.

Skirts and shorts, yes. Pants, rarely (but not never!)

I do have to occasionally leave my apartment to do things like laundry or get the mail. Can't really do that in underpants.
posted by SansPoint at 9:58 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


“The trick with fashion is that we’re not selling toilet paper,” he said, “which of course during Covid, toilet-paper sales go up. But ultimately it will level out, because there’s only so many butts in the world.

That quote though
posted by Omnomnom at 9:59 AM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


I’d like a worked example of why it’s impossible to be a business that grows on its own profits - do venture-capitalized businesses undercut you? Have they undercut all the factories small enough to make small orders? Are there such businesses, but they can’t scale _up_ enough when Fashion sees them so on average no-one sees them? What is the view from not Fashion Week/Vogue?

And what the heck has this done to the fabric and sewing factories? It was bad enough before 2008, I doubt it got better.
posted by clew at 10:16 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


The dying fashion designer industry is locked in with the dying department store industry, to say nothing of the last-throes shopping mall industry. Late stage capitalism - our need to stay alive, means we need you to do something you wouldn't, to stay alive, and so your suppliers have to do something to stay alive, and on into the ground. And venture capitalists - not even as pleasant as the vultures which at least clean up bodies.

Between this kind of cannibalistic cycle and the "gig economy," I have lost all hope of a decent world. Love of money is indeed the root of all evil.
posted by corvikate at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


Who are all you people who are wearing skirts and shorts during the pandemic ? Does this mean you've all been shaving your legs??

I literally haven't shaved in all of 2020 (not even pits! yarrrr!) so I wear pants (well, stretchy leggings) every time I go anywhere other than the gas station convenience store next door.
posted by MiraK at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


Who are all you people who are wearing skirts and shorts during the pandemic ? Does this mean you've all been shaving your legs??

I wear long skirts so I don't have to shave.
posted by LindsayIrene at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I have been wearing pockets shorts and lovely colorful dresses and straw hats with fancy bands AND not shaving my legs.
posted by clew at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2020 [14 favorites]


I don't shave anything except my neck, occasionally, thanks.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:31 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I haven't shaved in months and I wear shorts outside because WHO CARES, WORLD ON FIRE
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:36 AM on August 10, 2020 [58 favorites]


(OMG, my hot flashes have turned up to 11 during the pandemic. I'm so glad it's not just me!)

I've been housebound for a year and a half, and I alternate between pajamas for days and dressing up for fun. I like dressing up and doing so at home makes me feel like more of a person. But even in the before times, when I had a job and better health, I'd do chores in a tiara, dance shoes, and vintage silk because that makes thing fun for me. No bra, though, because dressing up and comfort should not be mutually exclusive. (on preview: For years now, I've averaged shaving my legs twice a year, for the same reason I go braless in public half of the time.)
posted by Ruki at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


clew: I’d like a worked example of why it’s impossible to be a business that grows on its own profits - do venture-capitalized businesses undercut you?
Basically, yes. I built an app/games business that grew on its own profits and at every stage, we've been outgunned with companies with literal millions of VC dollars to burn on staff, marketing, PR, user acquisition, etc. It is extremely hard to compete with people who pretty much don't need to make any money. We made it, but it's not an experience I can recommend to most.
posted by adrianhon at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2020 [34 favorites]


If sweatpants onesies for blokes were a thing, I'd be set for 3-seasons apparel forever.

(yes, Alex Ciderson's “Cut Aboot The Hoose” Range would be me.)
posted by scruss at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I hope fashion survives, as an art and as a practice of creatively and joyfully dressing ourselves. The rest of it, not so much, for all the reasons on display in the article.

I for one am having more fun getting dressed to work from home than I did to go to the office. My office is casual so it's not like I had many restrictions...it was actually my bike commute and lack of enthusiasm for bringing a complete change of clothes that kept my clothing more utilitarian in the before-times.

I sew and have been making extremely swooshy wide-legged pants which no chain guard or ankle strap could protect from my bike, floaty boxy shirts that would be nothing but wrinkles after transport in a pannier, and so many casual button-ups. Now I'm on a utility jumpsuit kick. By autumn, my goal is to have enough jumpsuits to let me pretend every single day that I'm on a spaceship, not hiding in my house.

I stopped shaving in 2019 and take my fuzzy legs and pits outdoors. No regrets. Beauty as an industry needs the same hard reset as fashion.
posted by esoterrica at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


in 2018, Burberry, the British label, revealed that it had been burning — not metaphorically but literally: burning — $37 million of worth of merchandise per year to maintain “brand value.”

Can we assume £37M is the retail price tag of the Burberry kit rather than the wholesale price? I suspect so. And that Burberry would have been more than happy to flog it at that price but nobody wanted it? So not really worth £37M in the sense that anyone was willing to pay that, even one scarf at a time?
posted by biffa at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


Can't we just embrace the 60s retrofuture thing where everyone wears shiny jumpsuits all the time? But baggy ones instead of skintight so everyone can enjoy.
posted by star gentle uterus at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


MiraK: Who are all you people who are wearing skirts and shorts during the pandemic ? Does this mean you've all been shaving your legs??

Yes. Along with my chest, and back, and occasionally arms. Damn masculine body hair....
posted by SansPoint at 11:04 AM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


You've hit on an important aspect of this whole mess, biffa. It can be applied to so many things, including health care: "OMG, health care costs are out of control!" Actually no they're not, people are just choosing to charge $12 for an aspirin or $20,000 for one cancer treatment; and other people are choosing to move that money around between insurance companies and regular people and the random son of a millionaire who can afford to pay the full retail price. What is the actual value of things?
posted by Melismata at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I've been with the same company and working from home for at least 10 years now. Beside my around-the-house extremely casual loungewear, when I need to leave the house I've got a couple pairs each of jeans and shorts, a whole bunch of t-shirts with amusing sayings or pictures on them, and a few flannel long-sleeve shirts. The rest of my "office-appropriate" clothes are either gone/too small or woefully out of date. If I ever have to work in an office again I'll need to set aside a few hundred bucks and a couple of days at least to replenish my work wardrobe, not to mention re-establishing the habit of daily showering and beard-grooming. :P Unless A Miracle Happens Why Not and the stars align, and I manage to transition from IT to writing and voiceover work; in which case I can cheerfully continue to be a complacent slob 90% of the time
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I’m going back to work on Friday and it’s gonna be weird wearing pants and a shirt again.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


My work wardrobe has been pared down to: a few sleeveless solid tees, three jersey knit cardigans, two necklaces, and whatever shorts/leggings/sweatpants I want. A swipe of lipstick if I'm going on zoom. And my favorite bras that are so lacking in support that their wages should be garnished.

But I do miss dressing up for work. I *know* that I'm professional even when I'm dressed like this, but I also like *showing* that I'm just as pulled-together as the work I produce. I went shoe shopping the weekend before my office sent us all home.

For sale, ankle boots, never worn.
posted by kimberussell at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2020 [17 favorites]




I'm working as a Census taker, and the guidelines for dressing are basically "Look tidy, no shirts with writing on them." The people in the training videos are office casual or nicer. But where enumerators gather on-line, we're pretty much in agreement that it's fucking hot in most of the country, there's COVID everywhere, we're wearing masks, and this is an active, outdoor job. I've been wearing my (nicer!) gym clothes and a sun hat because fuck it. Nobody wants to be enumerated by a sweaty, sweaty me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]


My ex-profession (teaching high school) is weird in that was nothing like a dress code, especially for men. Some guys would wear a coat and tie, some men dressed like they were about to mow the lawn.
posted by kozad at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


Clothes for skype? Bah! How many people still have their snow tires on because they've now done less than 500 miles on their car in the past 5 months?
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:29 AM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Tired: work wardrobe
Wired: protest wardrobe

seriously where do the bloc'd up kids get their outerwear? it kicks ass!
posted by runehog at 11:30 AM on August 10, 2020 [10 favorites]


One of the few upsides to 2020 is that I haven't worn long pants since March. I have no interest in returning to hard pants but could be convinced to wear those astronaut style jumpsuits provided they are made of a really comfy material. Now I just have to see if the office will adopt a "payload specialist casual" dress code.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:33 AM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


Burberry is burning clothes to stop poor people getting them. If you lived in the UK in the early 2000s, you might remember it as anything but a luxury brand.

It wasn't even cheap then! It was a status signal used by people who had come into some money (many illegally). This happens to all kinds of luxury brands. Rich white folk don't drive Cadillacs anymore. Fur coats are declasse. Basically, as soon as black people in the United States can afford a luxury item it is devalued and judged as tacky. In England it was as soon as Yobs could afford something. This rise and fall and brands is part of the obnoxious fashion churn.
posted by srboisvert at 11:36 AM on August 10, 2020 [15 favorites]


Who are all you people who are wearing skirts and shorts during the pandemic ? Does this mean you've all been shaving your legs??

Capris, not skirts and shorts, but I've been not giving a shit about the unshaved legs. When Normal Times return I will return to giving a shit, but right now I go out so rarely that I'm not going to bother to shave my legs for the grocery store.

My question is who are all you people who are actually getting out of your pajamas? Boxer shorts and tank tops all day every day. Quarantine life, bay-bee!
posted by schroedinger at 11:44 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I work in tech so I dress exactly the same as I would if I were going to work with the exception of shoes.

This is my shoe problem exactly
posted by Going To Maine at 11:45 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


In case anyone hasn't seen the relevant meme yet

No, hard pants are what you get after wearing your sweats too many times.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:47 AM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


It's sure curing the lie of "I just like to dress up!" No you don't, if you did for real you'd be doing that now.

I think there's an element of truth to that, but it's a little more complicated.

I grew up in middle-class small-town India in the last century, and it was largely ingrained into me that it was a sort of sin for a young person to think too much about looks or fashion or style. Clothing had a basic function and a cost; looks were unimportant and thinking too much about style was looked down on as egotistical and frivolous and almost indecently attracting attention to oneself. It was only in my late 20s that I started allowing myself - for the first time - to pick clothes based on their looks. I also discovered thrift stores and never looked back. My tastes got more flamboyant, and yes, I started appreciating compliments from other people. All this made me happy and felt positive. I became the kind of person who tried on multiple clothes before parties and outings, instead of just throwing something on. So I would say "I like to dress up".

When I became a dad, that stopped completely for a good 6-12 months (if you get spat up on multiple times a day, what you want is a bunch of easily laundered T-shirts) and never bounced back to where it was before. Likewise, this summer of COVID, I rarely wear a collared shirt. I typically wear two T-shirts every 24 hours: one before my daily exercise bike ride and one after.

So does this mean that all this while I didn't really like to dress up and was just doing it for the attention? I think it's more complicated than a simple yes or no.
posted by splitpeasoup at 11:50 AM on August 10, 2020 [18 favorites]


To answer a question above ... all kinds of industries are in serious question. Office real estate, especially high rises in central business districts, and the retail and regional mass transit that serves it.

The important thing to remember is critical mass. People who love to look fabulous are always going to buy clothes and shoes. But there aren't enough of them to sustain many segments of women's fashion, and at least some segments of men's fashion, because those segments' critical mass also required those who were required to buy clothes and shoes for which they had no real affection.

It will hit the low- and mid-price segments harder. Many of the men who buy $2,000 suits and most of the women who buy $750 pairs of pumps loves suits and shoes, respectively, and will keep buying them. None of them men who buy $300 suits likes suits, and few of the women who buy $75 pairs of pumps, cares one bit for them, and you don't want to be in the business of selling such things.
posted by MattD at 11:52 AM on August 10, 2020 [15 favorites]


A Guardian article from January: Landmark French law will stop unsold goods being thrown away. Companies to be banned from destroying clothes, cosmetics and other items
In a “polluter pays” clause, companies will be required to finance the destruction of waste that they create. This requires tobacco manufacturers to pay for the disposal of cigarette butts from next year, and affects those making toys, sports goods, DIY and garden products, and building materials from 2021.

Arash Derambarsh, a French politician behind the 2016 law forcing supermarkets to donate usable expired food instead of dumping or destroying it, said the new law was “full of good intentions … but half-hearted”.

“Today, thanks to our food-waste law any supermarket that refuses to donate food can be fined €10,000. There are no penalties in this new law; unfortunately when there is no punishment people will just ignore the law,” Derambarsh said. “That’s the culture on our continent. If there are no fines then it won’t be effective. It’s a patchy solution.”
posted by Lexica at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


women who buy $750 pairs of pumps

Here is the biggest problem with luxury brands and why the fashion industry is not sustainable. Brands rely on aspirational purchases from the middle-class to make profit. Those are the people who pay full retail. The rich have access to private sales. Which I guess is a good metaphor for the problems of capitalism.
posted by Ruki at 12:13 PM on August 10, 2020 [13 favorites]


This was an interesting article, thanks for sharing!

Semi-related: I have been working on my sewing skills in part due to the pandemic, because I want to be able to mend or alter our clothing if stores close again and we are unable to buy more.

It also has the benefit of reducing waste - mending jeans rather than buying another pair, for example, or turning a pair of pants into shorts and using the extra fabric to make other items. I have made a short-sleeved top from a linen curtain panel I bought for $2, and I still have some fabric left over! I also took apart a sleeve from a button down shirt that my husband wouldn't wear anymore, and made multiple masks from it to send to a family member.

I do feel that boosting my skills in this area makes me feel a tiny bit more comfortable in our current situation - what if we can't access items we would normally buy, or what if I need to supplement our income by selling things that we can make at home? I also use my sewing time as a sort of low-cost therapy session, because I can tune out other things and focus on creating something that makes me happy*.

*Not always guaranteed! That linen top? I accidentally made the armholes too small at the side seams and now it will live in the closet in case I lose weight!
posted by cp311 at 12:15 PM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]




In case anyone hasn't seen the relevant meme yet

My business partner and I have been calling anything that isn't leggings (aka yoga pants) "Hard Pants" for a while now. I stole it from Pete Holmes lululemon bit. We both stopped wearing Hard Pants long ago.
posted by newpotato at 12:20 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I never stopped going to the office but I have stopped wearing suits. I'll probably start again in the fall though. I've been biking to work and carrying my clothes with me so switching to suits will be a bit easier as I can just leave them and some ties at the office and only bring a shirt and socks with me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I have noticed that mass-market kids' clothing retailers have slowed down the turnover somewhat and you can get winter and summer things much longer in the actually seasons they belong to than you could a few years ago.

I am convinced that that nothing has done more harm to major retailers than major retailers themselves.

Every fall, the stores around here fill up with puffy jackets, snow boots, mittens, all the accoutrements of the winter season.
Except, I live in the PNW.
Around here, winter means rain boots, it means slickers, it means umbrellas (if you're a transplant).

If it does snow, no one is going to need snow boots because no one is going outside anyway, the town is shut down.

But every year, retailers stubbornly try to sell us their version of the season. Maybe it's because Target is in Minnesota and they can't conceive of a winter that doesn't involve sled dogs.
posted by madajb at 12:37 PM on August 10, 2020 [17 favorites]


I'm going all-in on palazzos for men, partly because I haaate sweat pants and any other garment burdened with the musky stench of sportiness that isn't a pair of Norwegian curling pants, but mostly because they make go-go dance breaks extra fun.
posted by sonascope at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Sweatpants are nice and all but my favourite pandemic clothes change by far is not needing to worry about visible nipples and bra straps anymore so I can wear comfortable stretchy sports bras instead of padded underwires that constantly dig into my ribs no matter how "correctly" they're sized. It'll be hard to go back - thanks a lot, whoever decided that shirts for women can't be thicker than tissue paper.
posted by randomnity at 12:47 PM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


I like putting on boots. It's not uncommon these days to be wearing what amounts to PJs with Doc Martens.

I am at this very moment wearing a t-shirt, ratty leggings, and brand new pandemic purchased Docs with wool socks. It's 91 degrees outside. I just wanted to wear my new boots!
posted by zoetrope at 12:49 PM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


I work from home because I am a freelancer and, also, cannot afford to pay for an office. Today I wore a 10+ year old polka-dot sleeveless sun dress from H&M (not so fast fashion, in my case) and nothing else until I met a friend for a socially distance walk, when I put on underpants, socks, and long pants to avoid ticks during our walk in the woods.

Taking business Zoom calls while wearing a prim top and nothing below is my quarantine superpower. No one else ever knows and my naughty bits appreciate the airing.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:50 PM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


These expectations aren't just our co-workers: the first two months of WFH I wore khakis & a dress shirt every day, but then I switched to shorts and maybe a t-shirt or golf shirt.

My family seems to have taken the silent cue to heart, and is WAY more comfortable interrupting me now. Looks like I gotta bring back dressing up for work, just to get some peace and quiet...
posted by wenestvedt at 12:53 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


In case anyone hasn't seen the relevant meme yet

Hah! My uncle -- now near 70 years old -- grew up referring to leather dress shoes as "hard shoes," and this kind of completes that circle for me. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:33 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


So now you had summer dresses arriving in January and being discounted before the weather would even allow you to wear them.

As someone who generally goes clothes shopping when I pull something out of the wardrobe and find out that it doesn't fit and/or has holes, I HATE having to plan ahead. I want to buy summer dresses in July and August, and winter boots in December! (I will also be showing up at Canadian Tire for camping supplies literally on my way to the campground, but Crappy Tire knows that people shop last minute, so that's fine.)

Of course, I am not and never have been the market for most fashion designers. All I've ever wanted when I buy new clothes are solid, high equality basics - underwear, trousers, plain shirts for work. When I wanted more interesting clothing, I looked in thrift stores and (very occasionally) got something from designer-maker, or from a small stall at a festival or open-air market. I would be so brand-loyal to a store that carried basics that were solid and lasted and were mostly independent of seasons or trends - like Marks & Spencer's when it comes to men's clothing. Also, they should be available in multiple colours always, and not just the "colours of the season". If I want to wear orange, that's my mistake to make.

Which sounds kind of similar to what Entireworld is offering. I'm no fan of sweatpants, but if they move into woven linen and/or cotton trousers, I might be interested.
posted by jb at 1:34 PM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


Also, they should be available in multiple colours always, and not just the "colours of the season"

OMG yes!! When, oh when, LL Bean, will you have anything else besides drab, dull, greens and browns? You used to, a million years ago.

Every time the colors (or other patterns *cough* plaid *cough*) I like are in season, every 5 years or so, I always buy a ton of stuff I don't need, for this reason. Back to my point about sewing (though I noticed last year there was a ton more selection for plaid fabric than prior years).
posted by Melismata at 1:47 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


He found the whole thing depressing. Here he was, perhaps the only one in fashion who couldn’t sell merchandise fast enough in a pandemic, and no one was interested in investing. “It’s a slog,” Sternberg said. “It’s a constant series of disappointing conversations.”

Honest to the gods, this little gem made my head near explode. For the past five years I've noodled with the idea that the issues I have with current fashion ("the colors are dull, I don't want to revisit the 80's and OH MY GOD WHY MUST YOU PUT ZIPPERS EVERYWHERE") was an artifact of getting older. To discover that actually, it kind of sucks! is comforting.

Then you have this guy, who clearly is designing and selling something that people want and no one wants to invest. I'm probably missing some sort of context, but arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

On a personal level, I've been WFH since March 12 and my usual MO when I WFH is to dress like I am going to the office (bra, nice fitting t-shirt and jeans). One day I decided to change it up and put on a mother Hubbard-style dress and some leggings and got so much negative feedback from spouse that I put the dress back in the closet.

And now I'm asking myself why? I have a whole bunch of fun, eccentric pieces that are gathering dust because of my own self-consciousness. I'm 47 years old, damnit. What do I need to do to have fun with my clothes?
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 1:51 PM on August 10, 2020 [16 favorites]


Thanks for the Steinbeck, richochet biscuit. Those oranges (from The Grapes of Wrath) haunt me whenever I hear of producers destroying inventory in order to keep prices high. It's what turns me off about Capitalism.
    Although I do understand farmers need money too

posted by Rash at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


My family seems to have taken the silent cue to heart, and is WAY more comfortable interrupting me now. Looks like I gotta bring back dressing up for work, just to get some peace and quiet...
My joke at home has been: if I am wearing my lanyard, even if I am digging through the fridge, it means that I am "at work."
posted by eckeric at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


Yes. Along with my chest, and back, and occasionally arms.

Yeah, if I stop depilating I'm going through a couple months of discomfort if I ever start again for any reason - I'll keep the routine.

Less true for showering . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 2:12 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


yeah not gonna lie I get these emails from Betabrand trying to sell me Dress Pant Yoga Pants & I'm like "sorry Betabrand but that era is dead"

The only shoes I do wear regularly are canvas skechers.

I just bought some canvas skechers because they were cute & rainbow & I feel incredibly frivolous for having done it because who needs more than one pair of shoes now, might as well start a buggy whip collection
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:13 PM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


I wear nice shirts for zoom work. However, zoom doesn't see what I'm wearing from the waist down. New personal low: collared suit-shirt with pleated shorts.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:32 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Who are all you people who are wearing skirts and shorts during the pandemic ? Does this mean you've all been shaving your legs??

Nope. Vermont is paradise.

I do have a series of Zoom tops which are actually just fine but it's nice because if I put my hair up and put on decent earrings and a necklace I will look dressed for most things (usually for WFH me this is webinars where I am presenting so I like to look decent). For the first few months, I literally wore nothing but pajamas at home and dog-walking clothes when I would go out walking a friend's dog (my one social thing).

This article was interesting because it managed to be both kinda sympathetic about the whole situation but also clearly showing that it had been a bit of a house of cards the whole time.
posted by jessamyn at 2:36 PM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


What do I need to do to have fun with my clothes?

Ignore your husband’s commentary maybe?
posted by Bella Donna at 2:59 PM on August 10, 2020 [28 favorites]


Also, they should be available in multiple colours always, and not just the "colours of the season". If I want to wear orange, that's my mistake to make.

THIS. Are you paying attention, Target? Is it so unreasonable to ask for plain tees and tanks in classic neutral colors? Not everyone looks good in muted corals and mustards and olives and whatever else you think is on trend. Yes, that's technically red, but it looks like it's been left out in the sun all summer. Maybe partner with Crayola and create a classic 8-color pack of tanks. I'd buy those all year, every year.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2020 [14 favorites]


Friends, mefites, all, allow me to share my pandemic dress up secret (I am one that tries to dress up most days just for a sense of normalcy. Jammies only got old 2 days in.)

The gap fold over skirt. The yoga pants of skirts. Find that bad boy on Poshmark or Ebay. Breathe a sigh of relief and smile knowingly at the secret that this is the most comfortable skirt the universe has ever seen. I mean, I would get compliments for my outfit (back in the before times) while knowing full well I was wearing it because I just couldn’t pants that day.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:33 PM on August 10, 2020 [10 favorites]


I have an entire dresser drawer of work shirts that I wonder if I am ever going to use again.
posted by tavella at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


“I just couldn’t pants that day” is my favorite string of words today. It rings very true.

My hospital’s gift to everyone this year was a logo pullover zip that’s actually really nice and comfy and sharp looking, and it’s perfect for days when I just can’t shirt.
posted by obfuscation at 3:48 PM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]


I would like to thank the many contributors to MeFi, who, over the years, have kept me grounded when the world, as I perceived it, spun out of control.

I am not currently wearing pants. I wear pants when I go out to tend my garden or buy groceries, but that's about it. I'm thinking (after cutting my own hair for the last two months) that a little breeze between my legs is a good thing. May I ask for the return of the manly kilt?
posted by SPrintF at 3:49 PM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


In case anyone hasn't seen the relevant meme yet

Seen it? I invented it. Twenty years ago I lost almost all of the use of my hands for a few weeks: gross motor function was the extent of my control... imagine wearing oven mitts or boxing gloves on your hands for a month.

The only pants I could wear were soft cotton shorts — no zipper, no buttons, very comfy. I dubbed these “soft pants” then and they have carried this appellation in my family since.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I've spent the majority of quarantine working on finishing part of our house, and the whole time I was wearing some german military tanker coveralls. I had them originally to paint in, but started wearing them during the rest of the construction process because they were super durable, protective, and now that they're broken in, they're really comfy.

Garage is all done, but...I'm still wearing them pretty much on the daily. It's actually the most utilitarian clothing I've ever worn, and its just one piece of clothing really. Daily wear is jumpsuit, toms, baseball hat. It's a ludicrous get up, but it's really comfortable, and basically serves all my needs; riding bikes with the kid? Just add a helmet. Going out to the woods for a hike? Maybe some socks and hiking boots. Taking a nap in the backyard? No shoes! No hat! Coooking dinner? Never even felt the oil pop a splash on me! Grocery shopping? Weird looks, but fuck it we're in a pandemic and you can't see my face! ALL JUMPSUIT ALL THE TIME JUMPSUIT IS MY NEW QUARANTINE RELIGION.

I had to get dressed up for a job interview, and it felt weird to not be wearing what amounts to a durable onesie. It felt like too much clothes and not enough clothes all at once.

ALL HAIL UTILITY JUMPSUIT.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:23 PM on August 10, 2020 [31 favorites]


And if one was looking for a source of a not-military-and-v-cute jumpsuit, big bud press is adorable, responsible, durable and makes clothing for lots of different body shapes (I would like one that is less obviously a remnant of the military industrial complex, but alas).
posted by furnace.heart at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


I used to work in an industry that was okay with people wearing jeans and a t-shirt into the office, but I now work for a place that abides by what I think of as "nonprofit business casual." Office skirts and pants are preferred. Suits are required on special occasions. Jeans are technically forbidden, but you can get away with them if they're black and you dress them up. Same thing for slip-on sneakers that are close enough to being flats.

Because of that, more than half of the clothing I own has been sitting in drawers and my closet since all of this started: scarves, jackets and blazers, cardigans and v-neck sweaters, pleated skirts and pencil skirts, blouses, button-front shirts. For the past five years I have had to build how I look around someone else's priorities.

I definitely try to dress up as a sign of respect when we're meeting with external partners, since I do think that's important, but hoo boy do I not like wearing office clothing. It makes me feel like a class traitor on the subway ride to work every morning, and it is generally way more gendered and less comfortable than what I grab on my days off.

So quarantine has had me trying to re-learn what I actually like to wear, even though I am on the verge of middle age: sometimes nothing, sometimes shorts and a tank top, sometimes a shroud, never a bra if I'm staying home, and jeans, but only if it isn't summer and I'm going outside. I was keeping the video off on work calls for a while but have begun turning it on with the camera tilted toward my shoulders, where straps or sleeves will demonstrate that I am, in fact, wearing a garment, and my face, which is framed by a pair of earrings that serve as my final offering to the altar of business casual.

I'm cool with the idea of solid, well-built, reasonably priced but not exploitative ROY G BIV basics, especially if it doesn't involve Dov Charney, but would appreciate if we could keep a handful of rust/pumpkin/turmeric/teal items in stock for those of us with olive skin.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:35 PM on August 10, 2020 [7 favorites]


Interesting article. I'm a little less interested in high fashion than the impact COVID will have on fast fashion, which it touches upon a little.

Really, my need for office wear was the only reason I stepped foot into clothing shops anymore, and I'm happy to forego that. I'm sure a lot of people are. I like fashion in theory but the acceleration of fast fashion these past few years has made the process of buying clothing just awful. There's no sense of quality in anything, neither in make nor consistency, regardless of price or brand, and don't even get me started on trying to figure out ethics. Before COVID I'd mostly switched to buying clothing at thrift stores.

It sounds like the pivot is towards unsustainable Instagrammable/VC brands, though. Funny that the article is basically a case study/advertisement for the brand Entireworld. When I visited their website, the splash page is currently bragging about how they sell out almost instantly. Basically that's the case for any trendy DTC clothing website, these days. No wonder people are just opting out.

On an entirely different note, my assumption is that someone who previously took pleasure in "dressing up" and now never showers or shaves might just be depressed.
posted by Emily's Fist at 4:54 PM on August 10, 2020 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Entireworld, it’s kind of interesting that no one has actually linked to their site yet. I will die on my pile of zippered hooded sweatshirts, so I can't say that they have much for me, but it’s certainly a soft, American Apparel-esque aesthetic.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


It looks like the vaporwave of clothing.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:01 PM on August 10, 2020 [6 favorites]


(I, uh, own a surprising amount of vaporwave. It fits these times.)
posted by Going To Maine at 5:09 PM on August 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


May I ask for the return of the manly kilt?

I'm holding out for a manly kilt that (a) is made from something lightweight and professional-looking instead of the usual rugged heavy-duty twill or wool suitable only for, I dunno, major construction work or blacksmithing; (b) buckles across the same part of my body as normal trousers do, not across my belly button; and (c) is well made without costing as much as 3-4 pairs of trousers/jeans.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:25 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Also regular pockets would be nice rather than informal-looking cargo pockets. Although the idea of wearing a big shaggy sporran to a team meeting has a certain subversive appeal...
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:36 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


As a borderline Boomer (born late 1964) and web developer in the twilight of my career, I always "dressed up" compared to other web developers. That just meant pants and a button-down short-sleeve shirt vs. jeans and T-shirts, though.

I started going soft with clothes before the pandemic. I replaced all my non-graphic T-shirts with soft T-shirts from Old Navy, switched from boxers to soft boxer briefs, and changed to jean-cut pants, which look nice and are more comfortable than jeans.

Now I just wear a T-shirt and sweatpants at home.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:47 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


If anyone wants to add a link for a traditional great kilt tutorial, or if others want to weigh in about various types of sarong and sari, feel free. Facebook has videos of tops and dresses created with a twisted and tucked/tied piece of cloth.
Who needs a sewing machine and multiple sizes? And I occasionally do the t-shirt and cotton sarong thing around the house, especially when the temperature gets above 90 F. with high humidity. Single-cloth traditional fashions make more sense.
posted by TrishaU at 6:15 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I guess I’m the only one who kept right on wearing the same clothes I normally wore, because why not? I like what I wear. I work from home, always have, and I can’t imagine not wearing pants because... why? Pants are comfortable! And since it’s gotten too hot for jeans I’ve switched to dresses! I like clothes and I’ve always bought ones that feel good when worn.

The only difference is that I rarely leave the house so the only shoes that get any use are muck boots for the garden and flip flops. But I still wear flats to go to the grocery store because... that’s what I’ve always worn to go to the grocery store.
posted by lydhre at 6:27 PM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


If you wore clothes you didn't like to work, it's not surprising that you don't wear them at home. I still wear dresses because they are far more comfortable than pants in the heat, and I am happier when I wear something fun. I don't know why anyone would wear sweatpants in this heat but to each their own.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I was wearing all of my work clothes at home through April, May and June, because it made me feel like I was at work and also I like my work clothes (mostly button-up cotton shirts).

But then July happened, and my house is at least 24-28 degrees instead of the 18 of the over-airconditioned office, so t-shirts it now is. I was mildly embarrassed on my video call the other day, because my boss looked nice and fancy and I was wearing a t-shirt from a charity, but she didn't seem to care.
posted by jb at 6:52 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


"I'm holding out for a manly kilt that (a) is made from something lightweight and professional-looking instead of the usual rugged heavy-duty twill or wool ... Also regular pockets would be nice rather than informal-looking cargo pockets."

May I introduce you to the Utilikilt Mocker?

(Okay, okay, it's spendy. But they're made in the USA and have pretty good corporate values.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:12 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


I guess I’m the only one who kept right on wearing the same clothes I normally wore, because why not?

There are at least two of us. But that's because I work in a super casual field and so I was already wearing clothes I found comfortable. (Flattering? That's a different question entirely...) And I know most people find sweatpants or pajama pants way more comfortable, but I'm not a big fan.

So I just keep wearing the same two or three pairs of pants and t-shirts, digging slightly deeper into the closet only for field work (which is even more casual, but different than I want to wear around the house).
posted by Dip Flash at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


shout out to team miss my fancy shoes. you are my people.
posted by boomdelala at 7:31 PM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


Okay, okay, it's spendy.

200 friggin bucks?!?!? *game show fail buzzer*

Unfortunately that flagrantly fails condition (c): is well made without costing as much as 3-4 pairs of trousers/jeans. I'm not enough of a fashion plate, or a renegade, to spend that amount on a single article of clothing - hell, I'd flat-out refuse to spend that on a suit! (see my comment upthread re: complacent slobness)
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:16 PM on August 10, 2020


ooh, also, I just noticed 65% poly. which is a hard pass from this snowflake - all-cotton or no go, period. I know, I'm picky....
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:18 PM on August 10, 2020


I had a job interview via videoconference a few months ago, and I did the full suit and tie and even dress shoes. I was definitely more dressed up than any of the interview panelists; they actually seemed surprised that I wore a suit. Which was odd to me especially given that it was an executive leadership position I was applying for. I mean, yeah, it’s a video interview, but it’s still a job interview. You wear a suit!

But other than that, my work attire has basically become the same as my weekend attire. I’m pretty much equally comfortable in each, which is nice for me; normal work attire is just decent pants and a button-up shirt.

May I ask for the return of the manly kilt?

I’ve never particularly cared for kilts myself, but we got a catalog (Lands End? Something like that) in the mail recently and they were pushing shirt dresses which I found more appealing. Easy and comfortable looking and all, with the potential side benefit of slipping a little drag into a corporate Zoom meeting! Sizing for stuff like that can be tricky though as often the places where I’m curvy (dad-belly) aren’t the same as the places the designers are expecting curves (hips, chest). If I knew where to find skirts that worked for my shape and fit comfortably (as Greg_Ace said, riding at the pants line), that would be a nice way to play dress up.
posted by nickmark at 8:54 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Luckily for us goths, some British goth clubs have moved to Zoom so we can all dress up on a Saturday night and reaffirm our gothness. There's always a brisk trade in second hand goth goods, even now, but my heart goes out to anyone who makes things for a living. Except goth face masks-- everyone wants a mask with bats on it, right??

My one genius corsetmaker friend is still doing enough business through Etsy to keep afloat, though it has slowed down. I've gladly paid her in advance for the commission we're working on, but so far neither one of us has wanted to travel for a fitting. It'll get done eventually.

The charity shops I walk past are all either closed, or have signs out that they can't take any more clothing donations, or both.

Otherwise: I'm hard to fit and generally don't buy clothes or shoes I can't try on, so online shopping is a nope for me. (I know you can return things that don't fit; I also know I would never get around to sending anything.)

And like most other singers, I'm living day to day in my rehearsal scruffs, keeping a couple of audition outfits ready for hope's sake, but sadly looking at how best to store my concert dresses long-term.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:17 PM on August 10, 2020 [8 favorites]


No. I don’t get it. I don’t understand how these relate. Although I’d love to blame the puffy vest on this.

I think implication is that those items are season-thematic but not particularly season-functional and thus representative of the strange and artificially accelerated cycles of contemporary fashion.
posted by atoxyl at 11:11 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately that flagrantly fails condition (c): is well made without costing as much as 3-4 pairs of trousers/jeans.

Having sewn my own kilt in a similar style (using the X-Kilt pattern/instructions) as well as some pants, there's quite a lot of sewing involved in a kilt. I'm not surprised that a made-in-the-USA kilt like that costs significantly more than most pairs of jeans.

Utilikilts redesigned all their kilts a few years ago, making them adjustable by adding velcro and elastic lacing to the rear center pleat. Sadly, their new ones weren't my thing aesthetically, hence learning to make my own. Quite a lot of work though.
posted by JiBB at 11:51 PM on August 10, 2020 [11 favorites]


Speaking of Entireworld, it’s kind of interesting that no one has actually linked to their site yet.

Oh huh, dunno what I was expecting but it's like the time I went to Uniqlo & everything was a high-waisted mom pant or a dowdy cardigan in various shades of ecru & I didn't get it so hard that it felt like they were gonna ask me to leave.
posted by taquito sunrise at 11:51 PM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


So on the one hand I'd JUST got the point that I could afford a few things I actually liked and were nice and sort of projected what I wanted to and were going to last years and seemed to vibe with the workplace at my new dream job and it's a shame to have lost that so quickly.

On the other hand, man, I actually really liked the look of that muji outfit everyone else thought looked like labour camp uniforms, so do i really deserve nice things
posted by ominous_paws at 2:39 AM on August 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


Yes, please: Bring on more men in utility kilts (check out this Firefighter Utility Kilt)! Or try simply wearing skirts, as at least one younger guy in Berkeley seemed to do on the regular back when I was in the neighborhood. (GQ proclaimed that 2019 was the year that men would wear skirts; GQ was wrong.)

I think this is a great post, but I also think it does that weird-ass business journalism thing in which the primary (interesting and narrow) angle is about industry disruption/VC madness and completely avoids, as mentioned earlier by someone else, that fashion (along with most other industries) has basically shit all over the planet, as well as its workers, for virtually its entire existence. (As covered last year on the blue, robots can't sew. Everything you wear was made by a person.)

Articles like this were still enjoyable to me a few years ago. I felt like I learned something and was intrigued by the characters. Now that the Western world is teetering on the edge of disaster in a way that other countries are already experiencing, I cannot read this type of article without thinking, WTF, where is the reminder that whatever used to be the norm in fashion is NO LONGER SUSTAINABLE (not that it ever was), whether Marc Jacobs is wearing pearls or not?

(Note to author of original article: Great writing. But you should have skipped the part about your relief that Marc Jacobs was not free for an interview. No one needs public pity.)
posted by Bella Donna at 3:02 AM on August 11, 2020 [8 favorites]


Hmm. Something I've just realized -

I've been rereading this thread, and thinking about how my own wardrobe has been getting pared down over the past few years because I've sort of been gradually reducing it to a "capsule wardrobe", where you only own a handful of things and then a bunch of accessories, and mix and match them in different configurations. It's good if you're on a reduced clothing budget (like I was for a really long time), because maybe you just buy one new shirt every year as another one wears out, it helps you pack light when you travel, and you don't have as much "ugh what do I wear" option paralysis in the mornings. I tend to opt for a few plaid shirts in different weights, a couple of mariniere style striped shirts in different colors, and a couple of plain shirts, plus a few different weight sweaters to go over them, and a couple different pairs of pants, and that's it. (Well - except for the huge tub of stoles and scarves.) It's business-casual friendly, weather-adaptable, and label-blind enough that I can get a replacement of anything at thrift shops if need be.

But it hit me - I've been seeing a LOT of fashion bloggers push the "capsule wardrobe" thing over the past few years, and I'm wondering if it's started a trend that has grown to have an impact on the fashion industry; a critical mass of non-shoppers that are saying "no thanks, I'm good" and not supporting the industry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:00 AM on August 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


I adore fashion( i get dressed up every day during quarantine and literally have never found a pair of sweatpants that I like/find to be comfortable). Especially dresses.*I am on record as saying that the only part** of being a woman I enjoy is the fact that i can wear a strapless full akirted tulle cocktail dress to the supermarket and people will probably think I’m eccentric , but it’s unlikely somone will react violently.

*Also a huge fan of statement earrings.

**This is a bit of an overstatement, but the older I get and the more I realize about myself, the more I realize that my closet (overstuffed, expansive, impractical, irresponsible and a total joy to me) is maybe the biggest part of me thst feels most consistently or even confidently cis. And it’s weird to realize that. And it maybe sounds sad? And did I say that aloud? Whoa.
posted by thivaia at 4:46 AM on August 11, 2020 [8 favorites]


Just a little hot tip, you can buy blank t-shirts in dozens of colours from the warehouses that supply promotional clothing companies. I got 9 "ultimate cotton" Gildan shirts in truly stunning colours for $50CAD total inc tax/shipping earlier this summer. They also sell lots of other clothing, too, pretty much anything that might have a logo printed or stitched on -- for surprisingly low prices. Just search for "blank t-shirts" and go from there.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:55 AM on August 11, 2020 [8 favorites]


Of course, Entireworld doesn't do plus sizes.
posted by LindsayIrene at 5:20 AM on August 11, 2020 [9 favorites]


Oh huh, dunno what I was expecting but it's like the time I went to Uniqlo & everything was a high-waisted mom pant or a dowdy cardigan in various shades of ecru & I didn't get it so hard that it felt like they were gonna ask me to leave.
Something very bad has happened to Uniqlo, and I don't understand it. I keep going back to their website expecting to find decently-made basics in an array of wearable colors, and instead it's just a parade of shapeless beige sacks. I have no idea where one is supposed to buy fitted t-shirts for women these days, because it used to be Uniqlo, and they have abandoned me.

Entireworld does nothing for me, though. Their website is annoying, and I don't think those clothes are designed for people who have boobs and/or hips.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:29 AM on August 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


If you don't need anything more than XL, Muji is a little upmarket from Uniqlo and since their whole schtick is basically "hi we're the giraffe from Garanimals" in that everything goes with everything else it's worth a look. I like Muji's linen shirts particularly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I guess I’m the only one who kept right on wearing the same clothes I normally wore, because why not?

Because it's been in the 90s for four weeks and my goddamn air conditioner is dying and trips its breaker every couple of hours and MY HOUSE IS SOOOO HOT and suddenly those Duluth Trading khakis are like wearing a tracksuit made from Ikea bags.

*ahem*
posted by wenestvedt at 6:53 AM on August 11, 2020 [5 favorites]


That was a very interesting read, thanks.

For my own sartorial choices, my work clothes are black pants and a branded black polo or t-shirt, so I have enjoyed wearing All The Colours during the pandemic.

I've worked in women's media (fashion), an arts organization (business formal, that was kind of wild), and fitness (branded polo) and it's always fascinating to me how differently I have gotten treated at the points at which I picked up my coffee or on transit, etc. In the polo I have been given a few free things - coffee that had mistakenly had cream added, for example.

There's a real language to clothing and it will be interesting to see how it changes.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:54 AM on August 11, 2020 [10 favorites]


If you don't need anything more than XL, Muji is a little upmarket from Uniqlo and since their whole schtick is basically "hi we're the giraffe from Garanimals" in that everything goes with everything else it's worth a look.

Caveat that Muji is also prone to "shapeless beige sacks" from what I'm seeing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


 big bud press is adorable, responsible, durable and

… people would think I was the janitor if I wore one. Might as well get an embroidered cursive name patch too.

 200 friggin bucks?!?!?

The last kilt I had fitted was £200 wholesale in the mid-1990s. Yes, it was Scottish-woven worsted wool in the family colours. I think the cloth alone was about ¾ the cost. Weighed a ton, so it did.
posted by scruss at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


I have so many good shoes for outside the home that now spend even more of their time doing nothing because I never leave anymore. I can’t justify more fun shoes because these have no miles on them, and yet I really want my fancy shoe places to keep making shoes.

I keep finding myself putting fancy shoes into carts and then abandoning the carts because when am I going to wear them when I only go to the grocery store and the park? I know that technically I can wear these (or these or these) to the store, or to walk the dog, but I also know that I won't, and I just can't have another box of shoes that I love just sit there looking longingly at me. Plus I'm out of work now and can't afford any of them. But sigh.
posted by Mchelly at 8:00 AM on August 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


I know that technically I can wear these (or these or these) to the store, or to walk the dog, but I also know that I won't.

I have bought two pairs of what can best be termed "very fancy sneakers" since COVID. Do I need glitter sneakers? Irrelevant. Do I love them? Oh fuck yes.
posted by thivaia at 8:09 AM on August 11, 2020 [7 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: There seems to be a trend now across a bunch of brands for shapeless sacks. Doubly so if you're buying "plus size" clothing, and since I'm largely a size 14, that's squarely in "plus size" territory. If people want to wear that, fine, but I'm not putting in the effort to grow a pair of tits just to hide them under some shapeless sack of fabric.
posted by SansPoint at 8:27 AM on August 11, 2020 [5 favorites]


It's true, though, the shapeless sack thing. What the hell. You definitely can accessorize it. With a belt it would probably drape nicely. These things are not very far from chitons, though they'd really need to be even baggier.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:32 AM on August 11, 2020


I'm cool with the idea of solid, well-built, reasonably priced but not exploitative ROY G BIV basics, especially if it doesn't involve Dov Charney, but would appreciate if we could keep a handful of rust/pumpkin/turmeric/teal items in stock for those of us with olive skin.

Definitely. Everyone should be able to go (in)to a store and find at least one or two things that look reasonably good on their skin. This thing they do now where you can only get things from certain color families every few years is bullshit, is what I was really saying. No one should have to wait for Anna Wintour to decide it's time for jewel tones or nature tones to be hot again.

This is a bit of an overstatement, but the older I get and the more I realize about myself, the more I realize that my closet (overstuffed, expansive, impractical, irresponsible and a total joy to me) is maybe the biggest part of me thst feels most consistently or even confidently cis. And it’s weird to realize that. And it maybe sounds sad? And did I say that aloud? Whoa.

This is how I feel about makeup, and sincerely thank you for putting it into words - I would never have thought about it from that place but it's totally true.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:35 AM on August 11, 2020 [4 favorites]


This thing they do now where you can only get things from certain color families every few years is bullshit, is what I was really saying. No one should have to wait for Anna Wintour to decide it's time for jewel tones or nature tones to be hot again.

There needs to be a startup that will let me virtually stitch together clothes so I can make whatever weird thing I want, like how Outlier once sold a “merino wool thing” or how Rei Kawakubo blows peoples’ minds with some truly odd forms. How can I, the average consumer, make myself the None Left Beef of my clothing dreams from the comfort of my couch?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:54 AM on August 11, 2020 [8 favorites]


I think there's an issue not only with the spiralling budgets at AAA games studios but also indies and hypercasual game designers working themselves to the bone for scant return.

I may be too close to the matter, but I am having great difficulty drawing any useful parallels between game development and the fashion industry. We make a virtual product, so no stock issues. We all work remotely now, and have adapted to lockdown better than most industries.

What's dead is gaming retail, and that's been expected for quite some time. MS tried to accelerate it around the launch of the XBox One, and face-planted massively, but Covid has really driven the knife in. However, that just increases returns to development, and publishing, and with the market expanding that's a double win.

Hell, we're probably a viable escape plan for fashion designers who can shift from fabric to pixels. Our virtual cloth is getting pretty good now!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:18 AM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


About Utilikilt pricing: I bought one for, um, I don't remember exactly but something between $100-150, probably around eighteen years ago. Sold it eight years ago for $60. No regrets, given I'm not sure I've ever had another clothing item that retained that much of its value.
posted by asperity at 10:33 AM on August 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


If in the last decade you’ve gone looking for a simple cashmere sweater and instead encountered ones with zippers, giant animal faces, glitter shoulders or “distressed” anything — that’s novelty. If you found yourself annoyed, you were not alone. “That was so we could sell to Saks, Neiman, Barneys, Nordstrom, Colette, and everybody could have their own special thing,” Sternberg recalled. “I was basically making stuff I didn’t like because I thought a buyer wanted it, not even the customer.”

This is very true, and it's not even a new phenomenon.

Clothing buyers for major stores are fickle. They also tend to be huge jerks that need to be put on the B Ark with the telephone sanitizers and marketers and fired into the sun.

I witnessed a lot of this in the sports/casual industry segment in the 1990s. (See also: T-shirts. So many stupid T-shirts!)

Remember the "Big Shirt" fad with the weird rhinestones and appliques? And the weird plastic rhinestone T-shirt buckles that people would use to like cinch up the hem of their big, gaudy T-shirt?

That was us. And it wasn't our choice, really. It's what the buyers from places like Walmart, Target and other major chain stores were buying. Apparently they were pretty popular in the midwest and I don't know where else, but I still have a lot of questions about that or if it was just some kind of magpie syndrome for shiny shit on T-shirts.

We hated making those things. If you ever saw one of these shirts covered in gimmicky rhinestones, ribbon bows and roses, metal conches and even leather tassles and other "findings" we had to glue each one of those on by hand using super toxic E6000 adhesive, and it got to the point where we invested in pneumatic dispensing guns and were going through the largest tubes of E6000 available by the case and pallet load.

We probably made multiple millions of units of those shirts. We had some months at the peak where we were producing a million ugly t-shirts a month.

Anyway one of the main things I learned about the industry on the buyer/seller/marketer level is that no one really has any fucking idea what they were doing. They're just making shit up. They follow trend forecasting - see the Pantone System and how they "predict" what the hot new colors are going to be, and they're mostly just making shit up too.

In hindsight it's pretty clear to me as an adult there was a whole lot of alcohol and blow going on when these decisions were being made, and that the industry is utterly rotten with nepotism, back channel deals and favoritism and so on.

There's a reason why I mostly wear black and hate almost anything with a print or logo on it today. I'm not your billboard. I'm not paying good money to advertise for Nike for free.
posted by loquacious at 11:08 AM on August 11, 2020 [23 favorites]


loquacious: Yeah, the only thing I'll pay to advertise on my chest are bands.
posted by SansPoint at 11:37 AM on August 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Because it's been in the 90s for four weeks and my goddamn air conditioner is dying and trips its breaker every couple of hours and MY HOUSE IS SOOOO HOT and suddenly those Duluth Trading khakis are like wearing a tracksuit made from Ikea bags.

Yes! This is definitely a factor. There's been a lot of writing about how most offices are air-conditioned to suit typical menswear... anyway, my office is super cold whereas my apartment doesn't have central air and is super hot. If I dressed in the same way for the office as I do for working at home I would pass out from heat stroke. We're talking slacks, blouse, heavy cardigan vs. tank-top and shorts.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:40 PM on August 11, 2020 [6 favorites]


There needs to be a startup that will let me virtually stitch together clothes so I can make whatever weird thing I want

This would either be very expensive, or it would need to rely on terrible labor practices in order to be affordable, because You can automate a lot of things. Sewing isn't one of them.

I guess I lied, I knew one other thing about the fashion industry after all.
posted by solotoro at 2:02 PM on August 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


We probably could make a lot more clothes undyed, with thread to match, and many of us could have trusted local dyers.

I wonder if the shapeless sacks are a design response to an economic shift. J know I was already reading that online shopping was junking a lot of clothes because returns couldn’t be resold at the prices people expect. That means the stores need one-size-fits-many and that’s Spandex or sacks.

(Hi-low hems and ruching also hide poor fit and no store tailor. Brilliant, in their way.)
posted by clew at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


Turtlenecks are going to come back.
posted by aniola at 5:14 PM on August 11, 2020


Count me as somebody who’s excited to dress up in a suit and tie and the most amazing shoes you have ever seen for the right occasion, but not so much to Zoom in my basement.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:06 PM on August 11, 2020 [7 favorites]


Horace Rumpole, those are amazing shoes!
posted by thivaia at 8:58 PM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I’m all for better options, but please don’t take away my shapeless sacks in earth tones. Some of us don’t care that they’re unflattering, and just want something comfortable with no waistband and very deep pockets.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:39 PM on August 11, 2020 [6 favorites]


There's a reason why I mostly wear black and hate almost anything with a print or logo on it today. I'm not your billboard. I'm not paying good money to advertise for Nike for free.
Oh, Hi Cayce.
posted by fullerine at 10:52 PM on August 11, 2020 [9 favorites]


I kept dressing in a shirt with a collar and decent pants during our lockdown in NZ, maybe a jacket too, because it helped me feel like I was at work. I am one of those people who finds working from home hard because I like to maintain a hard work/home boundary and it distresses me to blur it. And when I take a jacket off or roll up my shirtsleeves, I'm home.

I broke my leg three weeks ago and I still prefer to not just wear tshirt and sweatpants around the house, I feel better when I look nice.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:18 AM on August 12, 2020 [4 favorites]


I've mostly kept up my non-pandemic routine: shower, wash hair, get dressed the same (jeans, t-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt), and have strict office hours when I'm working and house hours when I refuse to work.
The only 'rona difference is that I'm wearing slippers instead of shoes.
posted by signal at 6:43 AM on August 12, 2020


I recently saw a claim that companies which offer clothes with pockets for women don't do well, and it's been tried a number of times.

Is there evidence that women in significant numbers will buy clothes with pockets?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:32 AM on August 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


EShakti seems to do pretty well selling dresses with pockets.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2020 [5 favorites]


Almost every woman I know wants pockets.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 AM on August 12, 2020 [8 favorites]


jenfullmoon, the hard part is being sure that women will chose clothing which has pockets.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:58 AM on August 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


When people ask about my skirts I make a point of dipping both my hands, up to my wrists, in the pockets, and showing the zippered compartment for my phone. People tend to gasp or scream and then ask me where I got the skirts and write it down so, yeah, not believing there's a "pocket curse" except in the minds of asshole male clothing buyers.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:59 AM on August 12, 2020 [6 favorites]


Lindy West, not one to shy away from a bold position, is anti-pocket.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:10 AM on August 12, 2020


Is there evidence that women in significant numbers will buy clothes with pockets?

Honestly now that I never go anywhere I also don't need pockets. So...who knows?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:11 AM on August 12, 2020


I still carry my phone around the house, so even the pajamas I sewed this week have pockets.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:18 AM on August 12, 2020 [6 favorites]


I definitely will buy clothes with pockets. I want pockets so much that in the beforetimes I wore strapped on pockets. Women very frequently have conversations about it and swoon if you have some.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 AM on August 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


Relevant tweet
posted by Mchelly at 8:36 AM on August 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


I am literally wearing a dress with pockets RIGHT NOW
posted by SansPoint at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2020 [3 favorites]


Almost every woman I know wants pockets.

Just about every person I know wants pockets - well, except for Lindy West, apparently. It's just that people who can/do wear clothes made for men have them. My current trousers (made for men) have pockets that hold a whole paperback book - well, so long as it's Jane Austen, not Tolstoy - and are deep enough that they don't gape, but let the book lie flat against my thigh.

Changing technology has made pockets more essential for me, not less. When I had a landline, I could hear the telephone no matter where I was in the house; now that we only have individual cell phones, I need to keep mine near me or I miss calls. When I'm outside the house, that's no problem - I always have a bag. But I don't want to carry a bag around my house, so I need pockets. My mom had crocheted herself and my niece special cell-phone carriers that go around the neck so that they can carry theirs around.

It's funny that West's essay is talking about nice dresses - that's when I most feel the need for pockets. When I'm at a casual event or shopping, again, I have a bag. But if I'm all dressed up, I've probably checked my bag or put it away, and then I really do need the pockets to hold a phone and/or a wallet. Small purses are awkward and ruin the line of a dress much more than a well-designed pocket - I don't wear narrow skirts, or muslin wetted down to show my legs, only nice full skirts, so there is plenty of room.
posted by jb at 9:05 AM on August 12, 2020 [3 favorites]


Can anyone recommend companies that are doing well selling women's clothes with pockets?

I get my sweatpants/shorts from Land's End-- they have big pockets, but they're pretty informal.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2020


As for pick-pockets - that's why traditional pockets were separate from the skirt and could be turned so that they weren't as easily accessible through the slit.
posted by jb at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


For those who like dresses with pockets, for at-home or elsewhere: the kaftan-maker I buy from has pockets standard in some of her kaftans, and you can add them for $2 on the ones that don't. (Several other customizations also available.) You can also contact the seller for questions about personal customizations.

Of note: there is a separate section on the site called "elderly apparel" which is a little misleading, but those options are a little more housecoat-y and less kaftan-y (but still in her great vibrant fabrics), more friendly to limited mobility/caregiver/hospital dressing, and some of them are explicitly wheelchair-friendly. The pockets on these tend to be higher up and on the body of the housecoat rather than set into the seams lower on the hips like the regular kaftans do. (They make great gardening smocks, because the lower pockets tend to swallow up all the little bobs you haul around in the garden.)

My favorite ones this summer are this shirty-coveruppy style (+ pockets, and a caveat that the white-background version of the fabric is a little translucent), and this empire-waisted maxi (+ pockets, in that fabric but a dark teal background), both of which I look forward to wearing out in public one day.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:45 AM on August 12, 2020 [4 favorites]


There's a whole genre of workout leggings with pockets because people want to be able to carry their damn phones while exercising and "fashion" workout leggings won't let you do that. People will pay CONSIDERABLY more for leggings with pockets and the small companies who are making them are making bank off them. (Especially those who extend to plus size, because a lot of mass-market exercise apparel brands assume that above size 14, nobody wants leggings or yoga pants, or to exercise. SO MUCH MONEY LEFT ON THE TABLE, and smart, small shops are cleaning up.)

In fact, there's a whole category of "sports bras with phone pockets" because getting legging with pockets is SO DAMN HARD and everybody wants them.

And, yeah, one of eshakti's major selling points is "we have pockets." Even children's and teen's boutiques now advertise girls' clothes with pockets. People will pay extra for pockets. Yes, it's a little harder to make pockets look sleek on women's clothes. But, Jesus, men walk around with ENORMOUS CARGO BAGS HANGING OFF THEIR SHORTS, and women can't have a little side-seam woggliness in casual pants or skirts for a single hidden pocket that'll stash a phone? GTFO
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:25 AM on August 12, 2020 [16 favorites]


"Can anyone recommend companies that are doing well selling women's clothes with pockets?"

Cannot recommend e-shakti enough, but warning: once you've bought clothes made to your measurements, with pockets, it's hard to go back!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:27 AM on August 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


You can’t put much stuff in pockets and also look as thin as possible, but the problem there, if there is one, does not belong to the pockets.

Beyond pockets and added pockets, let me sing the virtues of pockets supported by their own inner waistband (waist stay, in 20th c sewing lingo, usually). Full pockets then don’t drag the garment out of hang.

I have a friend working on vests designed to look like aesthetic go-overs but meant to support a lot of under-boob and side-chest pockets.
posted by clew at 10:40 AM on August 12, 2020 [2 favorites]


men walk around with ENORMOUS CARGO BAGS HANGING OFF THEIR SHORTS

And utilikilts, which is why I got two even though I am not a man.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:55 AM on August 12, 2020


They don't give women pockets because then we wouldn't need to buy bags to hold our stuff.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:00 AM on August 12, 2020 [4 favorites]


Is this where I declare my hatred for fake pockets? Especially since they usually aren't clearly labelled as fake, so you think you're actually buying something with pockets until it arrives and you learn the sad truth.

(I am aware that sometimes real pockets are sewn shut and am not referring to those ones)
posted by randomnity at 1:27 PM on August 12, 2020 [9 favorites]


But, Jesus, men walk around with ENORMOUS CARGO BAGS HANGING OFF THEIR SHORTS, and women can't have a little side-seam woggliness in casual pants or skirts for a single hidden pocket that'll stash a phone? GTFO

I bought a pair of men's pajama / lounge pants that have pockets big enough to fit a full-size Nintendo Switch console with the joycons & when I discovered this I cornered taquito boyfriend & yelled "JESUS CHRIST women are supposed to make do with fake pockets in the front & credit-card sized pockets in the back for our ACTUAL DAYTIME PANTS while men get this much pocket space for FUCKING SLEEPING?!"
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:35 PM on August 12, 2020 [18 favorites]


Even children's and teen's boutiques now advertise girls' clothes with pockets

We didn't do a whole lot of church when I was growing up, stopped going when I was about 7, but that's just as well because I didn't have much time left in my One Church Dress anyway.

My Church Dress had POCKETS, nice big apron pockets, and I could fit as many as 10 Hotwheels in there if I promised to walk very carefully so they didn't jangle and draw attention when we ran into service late.
posted by phunniemee at 1:59 PM on August 12, 2020 [14 favorites]


At Christmas a few years back my MIL made everyone pajama pants. The men and boys had pockets on their pajamas; the women and girls did not. Christmas morning we were all wearing them and my SIL and I discovered that we had both found ways to carry knives while wearing our new pajamas despite the lack of pockets.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:32 PM on August 13, 2020 [5 favorites]


nym fits, yup
posted by clew at 8:35 PM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]


« Older Puerto Rico and Guam are not countries   |   Surprising nuggets from r/classicalmusic Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments