Style therapy: Post-pandemic fashion will be pragmatic and personal

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It’s safe to say 2020 was a wash in terms of style. Are we going to see fashion changes in 2021?

If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we simply don’t know what’s coming. It’s impossible to predict the state of the world, and fashion, for the long-haul part of the pandemic.

I don’t have a crystal ball but as a longtime image consultant and stylist, my instincts tell me that the events of the past year will have a long-lasting effect. Post COVID-19 couture will be less fashion and trend-driven as personal style becomes a merge of pragmatism and personality.

Getting dressed is as much for the mind as it is for the body. You are a different woman than you were a year ago. Go to the mirror and look at yourself. Except for the odd Zoom meeting, you’re dressing much differently these days. Style is part of self-care. Yet, it seems silly to sport a new outfit when we can’t be around people and there’s no place to go.


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Our stay-at-home style has side effects. We use fashion as an expression of our feelings, and we wear what feels appropriate. In anxious times, like now, athletic wear has become the daily uniform and after a year in sweats or anything else that covers the body and is comfortable, we are all looking to move on mentally.

Cringey clothes. Ick. Gone. Here are three dressing trends we might be seeing soon.

After a year of wearing slippers and sneakers, don’t expect women to jump back into their high heels anytime soon.
After a year of wearing slippers and sneakers, don’t expect women to jump back into their high heels anytime soon. Photo by grinvalds /Getty Images/iStockphoto


Recently, a professional woman who has been working from home shared with me that her daily footwear for a year has been slippers. She’s not sure if she can even walk in heels after not wearing them for so long. Let’s be realistic. By all accounts, there is no logical reason to subject oneself to the pain and torture when more comfortable options can elevate your look. Sensible shoes, clogs, flats, midi-heels as well as hardworking boots and those oh-so-comfortable sneakers won’t break your ankle or bother your bunions. Don’t expect a surge back to high heels on that hallelujah day when the pandemic is over.


Classic, comfortable, and timeless will overtake all trends. A less try-hard and more relaxed way of dressing feels right for style 2021, however, comfort is not the only criteria. Don’t believe the headlines that say we’ll never wear tailored clothes again. Hang on to your great blazers and tailored pants. Put them together creatively and learn the art of the outfit. You can dress up and look businesslike and polished or put them together for a more casual street style depending on how you mix tailored with less structured. One thing I know for sure is that short-lived trends and fast fashion won’t feel relevant going forward and more women will adopt a buy-less-but-better investment mentality.


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Back when going to the mall was still a possibility we could meet a friend for lunch then stroll through stores leisurely, trying on shoes and clothes and test make-up. We’d laugh, kvetch and talk about life and how to get through crises, as well as where we might find some fabulous boots. Sometimes all in the same sentence. Let’s face it: we all like our clothes, shoes and shopping. That doesn’t mean we live our life as a fashion statement.

The pandemic taught us that retail is anything but recreational. With the world falling apart, why would we care about shopping and lining up outside stores so we can socially distance while wearing a mask? Now we shop in virtual stores that are open 24/7. This kind of consumerism has become a lifestyle for many, for a lot of good reasons.

Despite the convenience of the ‘Shopping Cart’ button, it won’t replace the ability to try on a garment and ensure you like the look and feel on your body before you buy. And it will never replace the ritual of friends going shopping together. One way we create intimacy and stay connected is through conversations and clothes, and often those conversations are prompted by our clothes.

Spring 2021 fashion trends are already hanging, side by side in your closet. Pull them out, play with them, get clever and artfully throw together some comfortable outfit ideas, even if you only wear them to the grocery store.

Helene Oseen is a longtime fashion writer and sought-after stylist. She helps women find confidence and style as they make friends with themselves and fashion. What’s your closet identity? Take the quiz and find out at


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