"My goal is to look hot every time I leave my house."
Before COVID-19 hit, I never left the house in a pair of leggings unless I was going to the gym, no exceptions. Just over a year ago, that changed quickly. When stay-at-home orders started back in mid-March, for the first time in my adult life, I bought my first pair of sweatpants at the ripe age of 23... and I lived in them for longer than I’d like to admit. As dressing to the nines is my favorite thing in the world, there's nothing I'm looking forward to more than flexing on the sidewalk again and getting dolled up to actually go somewhere. It's almost hard to imagine. I'm not the only one that feels this way.
After being mostly shuttered inside for more than a full year, everyone's naturally itching to make big moves in the remainder of 2021. With widespread vaccine availability and a gradual push to reopen states, things are starting to look up. That means some people, particularly fashionable Gen Zers, are ready to shed their layers of comfort sweats and tie-dye and finally trade them in for, well, the rest of the “real” clothes in their closets collecting dust. I spoke to a number of them to get a sense of what they’re wearing post-pandemic, and I was not disappointed. Between elevated loungewear becoming a staple in everyone's life and many people making impulse quarantine buys, let’s just say things are about to get very interesting. Keep reading to learn how 17 Gen Zers are planning to hit to tackle ~fashun~ as the world opens back up.
Going All Out
"Post-pandemic, I’m going to be serving maximalism on the regular. Yes, that means head-to-toe cowboy glam to the grocery store ... The pandemic led to a cultural shift toward collectivism despite our physical isolation, as we all had to play our part to stop the spread. Displays of ostentatious individuality clashed with the newfound communal values that mask-wearing and social distancing instilled in us. Some would say a bedazzled jumpsuit was in poor taste, while a matching heather grey sweatsuit was a love letter to your community and a form of self-care." — Toby, 23
“I’ll be overcompensating for my year inside, so every time I leave the house, I’m not only in different clothes but wearing a fully different style. What I’ve got to say about my fashion post-pandemic: She’s unpredictable.” —Eleanore, 24
"After the pandemic, my fashion will definitely be more glam or at least more intricate and thought-out. Before the pandemic, I used to only really get dressed up when I was going out. I’d go to school in sweats all the time because I just didn’t really see the point or have the energy to dress up. After the pandemic, I’ll definitely get dressed up more often because of the effect I’ve noticed on my mood. I also think that my fashion will shift more toward something that is purely for my own benefit more so than anyone else’s." — Marik, 21
"I want to be overdressed to every occasion and just not give a damn what anyone thinks of me or my clothes as long as I am having fun and going out of my comfort zone. I want to wear platforms and mini skirts, dresses and bold prints and colors, and really just go crazy." — Amanda, 20
"During the pandemic, my style was mostly comfy, with very minimal makeup, if at all — lots of bell bottoms, loose-fitting shirts, independently designed sweats. Converse and crocs were the go-to for shoes. Now, I'm looking for lots more movement. Think: fringe and long, billowing fabrics. Also cuter, more colorful heels. A higher emphasis on accessories overall." — Madeline, 24
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
"I think I'm using my wardrobe to make up for the 'fun' I lost after having stayed inside for over a year. I've started to explore with platform boots and the color pink. I've always liked the color pink, but now, I really don't care what people have to say about my entire pink outfits. I feel like I wasted part of my youth in quarantine, so I'm trying to make up for lost time." — Casey, 21
"Pre-pandemic, I was a huge homebody and didn’t like going out very much. Now, I find myself daydreaming about dressing up and going out till 4 a.m. in the city (something I never dreamt about before). I actually started routinely scouring TheRealReal for second-hand high heels, so I could be prepared to dress to the nines once I was vaccinated and restrictions were lifted. Funny enough, I ended up buying 3 pairs of heels for my post-pandemmy debut." — Sophie, 24
"During quarantine, I wore only sweatpants and pajamas — sometimes a nice shirt for a Zoom call but nothing special. ... I felt so not cool anymore just dressing comfy/not having anywhere to go. I eventually got bored of not dressing up as I used to, so every time I left the house to go food shopping or get coffee became an event. I’d try things I never did before with my fashion. Post-pandemic, I’m gonna try to keep up with what I’ve been doing now which is stepping out of my comfort zone and trying things I thought I wasn’t allowed to wear because of my body or size. I’m definitely not afraid to accessorize anymore or take inspiration from multiple places for one outfit." — Nicole, 22
"I feel like spending so much time in solitude during lockdown made me re-evaluate how I project myself — personally and fashionably. Before the pandemic, I was very ambitious and set on my career path. I never let loose entirely, and my wardrobe consisted of neutral colors. These two correlate because I never allowed myself to experiment or push my boundaries with fashion, and the same applied in my personal life as well. After I took the time to reflect, I decided I needed to have more fun and that included brighter colors or statement pieces in my wardrobe. Now, I wear bright colors, mix funky prints, and every accessory is a statement in itself. Post-pandemic fashion is ALL OUT. No more mediocrity, no more playing it safe." — Alyssa, 21
Not Giving Up On Cozy
“Life has been dull, so I’ve been experimenting more with colors and patterns to liven up my looks. My goal is to look hot every time I leave my house, but I also value my comfort, so I’ve been repping loose waistlines, so a girl can breathe!” — Tina, 22
"I’m definitely going to be leaning toward clothing that is fashionable in a low-maintenance way for the time being, I think!"— Scott, 24
"I'd love to walk through my everyday wardrobe with a set of comfortable clothes that still make me look super put-together. I feel like that can also be said for many others ... The idea of the post-pandemic world resembling the roaring 20s comes to mind as well, with more people going out to clubs, parties, and events overall. So, a wave of party outfits is definitely a must. The more over-the-top the better: sequins, shine, and bold looks." — Celine, 20
“The pandemic forced me to take a deep dive into my closet and be realistic. There were so many social gatherings before March 2020, and my wardrobe was mostly statement or stand-alone pieces. But now, I’ve invested more in a capsule closet with bold accents and accessories. I actually like it a lot better; it feels like a better representation of who I am now.” — Maddie, 23
Trying New Things
"As a frontline health worker, I spent most of my quarantine in scrubs and my N95 and surgical mask combo. Scary days in the OR meant coming home and jumping right into sweatpants and an old college T-shirt after a scalding hot shower. I felt like a part of myself was lost — I hated everything I owned. I decided to make the decision to only buy clothes secondhand for the next year. As things opened back up, I began shopping in thrift stores and vintage shops. It was a total transformation. My fashion sense felt truer to me, and my closet was fully curated with items I really love. I’m most excited about enjoying the things I’ve come to own — to be creative and create outfits. The prospect of wearing my beautiful things, maybe even on a vacation sometime soon, quells the feeling of COVID anxiety (well-accessorized with a Pfizer)." — Mahum, 23
"I started to paint at the beginning of this year. A few months ago, I went through my closet to clear out some pieces I wasn’t using. Instead of giving away a pair of jeans, I painted on them. I looked at the pile of clothes and just kept painting on them. At first, I was just doing it for myself, but then I decided to put together a little collection and website. For years I’ve been scared to put my own art out there in fear of not being validated by a certain crowd of people or not being “cool” enough. I really don’t care about those things anymore. I like to wear and make things that are outlandish and timeless at the same time." — Ally, 23
"I'm opting for a good pair of jeans (either deep blue or washed black) with a statement shirt or graphic tee. As for shoes, I’m opting for a pair of white high-rise converse or white AF1. A gold necklace is required, so I can feel put together. I feel [my fashion] changed a lot, because pre-COVID, I had to wear a formal white uniform every day since I'm a medicine student with clinical rotations. I did struggle at the beginning to dress up on a daily basis and not fall in the comfy clothes every day." — Raul, 22
“I actually took up sewing during the pandemic, so I’m excited to bring more upcycled and original pieces to my fashion. I feel like fast-fashion is becoming such a big environmental problem, and TBH, who likes walking down the street, only to notice someone else in the same outfit? What makes me so excited about post-pandemic dressing is people finally getting to experience fashion in person again! A good outfit is definitely a conversation starter and I miss being the belle of the ball!” — Eden, 24