It’s been over three years since the world first went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. As we sheltered at home and grew accustomed to cozy attire and (mainly) communicating virtually, a new routine and way of life emerged. Now, in 2023, one stylist is discussing the viral “pandemic skip” theory and how it pertains to stunted personal style in a post-pandemic era.
In September, Katy Schneider, a features editor at New York Magazine, penned an essay for the Cut, “The Pandemic Skip” in which she coined the term the “pandemic skip” to explain “the strange sensation that our bodies might be a step out of sync with our minds.” The idea, according to Schneider, is that while time kept on, our minds didn’t.
“One of my colleagues started the pandemic at age 29. Now, she wants to make up for the time she lost: to travel with her husband, to work, to go to dinner with friends — all the things a young, carefree person roaming around in the city might concern themselves with,” Schneider writes. “But she also wants to have children, and she’s worried she needs to settle down and start soon…’I’m really 31 in my head,’ she told me recently. But she’s also really 33 in form. ‘Which is a problem, because now I actually don’t have time for my brain to catch up with my body.'”
So how does this relate to personal style?
“Keep in mind, weight is a morally neutral thing on this page, neither good nor bad. It’s just data. The average American woman gained 29.5 pounds over the course of COVID,” she says, referencing a 2021 study examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on weight gain. “So roughly 15 pounds on average is where you’re gonna start seeing your clothing sizes change, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Dale does add, however, that if you have “a closet full of things that you love” and “all of a sudden they don’t [fit],” you’re faced with a dilemma. As working remotely from home became the norm during this time, Dale explains, people reached for leggings and sweatpants more often than, say, a pair of jeans. But when the world reopened and quarantines were lifted, many people, Dale says, realized that “their old faithfuls that made them feel good before” no longer fit.
While Who What Wear declared flared, high-waisted, straight and even skinny jeans as being among the “seven biggest jeans trends of fall 2020,” 2023, however, has been declared the “Year of the Baggy Jean” by InStyle. Similarly, Net-a-Porter explored the trend of oversize tailoring and its “contemporary spin” on menswear. Needless to say, there’s been an apparent shift in preferred silhouettes in a post-pandemic world of fashion.
“Three years is big. That’s six seasons, that is a lot of trend cycle changes. And then you add in these micro trends on top of it. So the silhouettes going into COVID-19 and the silhouettes coming out of 2023 are completely different,” Dale adds. “A lot of people are struggling with that three-year gap of not having to get dressed every day … not knowing where to shop … what works for them, what’s available to them anymore, on top of their bodies changing.”
“Think of trends as a buffet you’re free to pick and choose from rather than a set menu that you have to abide by. There are so many helpful (and free) resources at our fingertips through social media. Invest time in learning how to define and fine tune your personal style,” she told In The Know by Yahoo in an email.
Surrounding yourself with positive examples and “taking inventory” of the media you’re consuming can do loads for the way you perceive your body, Duffus explained.
“If you’re feeling unsure about trends or new styles, try finding something familiar,” she recommended. “If you’re trying a new color, opt for a silhouette you love or if you’re trying a piece that might feel out of your comfort zone, pair it with something tried and true that you know you’ll feel great in!”
With more than 799,900 views and 60,700 likes, several TikTok users have taken to Dale’s comments to express how the pandemic affected their body image.
“Yep gained weight, clothes don’t fit, can’t afford to purchase clothes like pre-COVID b/c of inflation,” @heatbradley wrote.
“Totally agree. I also think millennials were still leading trends pre 2020 and gen z took over setting trends after 2020. It’s a big change!” @lee11171 replied.
“Lockdown & having to spend most of my time alone w myself made me more aware of sensory sensitivities. I’m just unwilling to be uncomfortable now,” @whiskeysaga also wrote, before adding, “I hate the feeling of a breeze on my stomach, so I avoid cropped tops, which has really limited my choices in the last few years.”
Dale began posting on TikTok in 2020 to encourage others to dress in clothes they’d typically wear to work amid the pandemic as a “mental health exercise”: eventually, she noticed that more of her clients were speaking about their style struggles.
“I noticed in my virtual clients that several things kept creeping into these sessions: weight changes from COVID-19, not having access to quality pieces, not knowing what’s in style. It’s only gotten worse these last few years and I wanted to affirm that people hadn’t gone mad,” Dale explained to In The Know by Yahoo via email, before offering support to those that are struggling with their post-pandemic style.
“It’s going to take a little more research on brands, their manufacturing practices, if sizes changed … [but] there’s no shame in needing to take more time or even hiring someone to help you,” she added.
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