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Thanks To Quarantine, Some Of Y’all Are Professionalizing Athleisure

The start of 2020 saw plenty of sweatpants, slippers, and cardigans overtaking the popularity of dress pants, heels, and blazers; with quarantine keeping us in our homes and on Zoom, there was no reason to get dressed up – at least in the beginning. But while some stuck to pajamas and loungewear all day, others found the opportunity to explore their personal styles, shifting their comfort levels and finding new ways to express themselves. In the wake of fall fashion weeks and back-to-school, it’s clear that quarantine style trends have made their marks on the fashion world as we know it today. 

“Many people are seeing the value in more comfortable clothing,” Diana Zola, founder of jewelry and leather accessories brand Nina Zola, tells Her Campus. “Through quarantine, we were able to wear whatever we wanted.” It was the best excuse for us to never have to get dressed at all, or to throw on a sweater over our pajamas when we needed to be on camera. In fact, in late 2020, actress Phoebe Tonkin (of H2O: Just Add Water and The Vampire Diaries fame), took inspiration from the desire for comfort combined with the need to be presentable and launched Lesjour! – a play on the French phrase “les jours,” sounding like “leisure” and meaning “the days.” It’s a line of leisurely clothing with fashion-forward silhouettes and colors, offering “multi-functional, high-performance, and sustainably made” pieces, a desirable combination in light of the decrease in popularity of unconscious consumption (AKA fast fashion) that quarantine saw. The designs from Lesjour! are perfect for just about any situation, from sending work emails from bed to running out to the store to, yes, attending your never-ending string of Zooms.

Combining cute, office-appropriate styles with comfortable materials – and having them be widely accepted – is the innovation I’ve been waiting for, and “Many people are seeing the value in more comfortable clothing,” Diana Zola, founder of jewelry and leather accessories brand Nina Zola, tells Her Campus. “Through quarantine, we were able to wear whatever we wanted.” It was the best excuse for us to never have to get dressed at all, or to throw on a sweater over our pajamas when we needed to be on camera. In fact, in late 2020, actress Phoebe Tonkin (of H2O: Just Add Water and The Vampire Diaries fame), took inspiration from the desire for comfort combined with the need to be presentable and launched Lesjour! – a play on the French phrase “les jours,” sounding like “leisure” and meaning “the days.” It’s a line of leisurely clothing with fashion-forward silhouettes and colors, offering “multi-functional, high-performance, and sustainably made” pieces, a desirable combination in light of the decrease in popularity of unconscious consumption (AKA fast fashion) that quarantine saw. The designs from Lesjour! are perfect for just about any situation, from sending work emails from bed to running out to the store to, yes, attending your never-ending string of Zooms. Combining office-appropriate styles with comfortable materials – and having them be widely accepted – is the innovation I’ve been waiting for, and fashion blogger Maria Juvakka agrees. “Comfortable meets extravagant is the best way to sum up quarantine’s effect on fall fashion,” she tells Her Campus.

But not everyone agrees. The fall 2021 runways featured tulle, glitter, and chrome, suggesting even more out there are actually ready to ditch the leggings in favor of more party-ready styles. After only being visible from the shoulders up on a pixelated square for months on end, the desire to step out in our everyday best is strong. Even with leisure fashion gaining traction throughout 2020, the lack of special events and interaction with people outside of our own households led to many dressing up to do simple tasks like go to the grocery store.

“During the beginning of quarantine I was more dressed down, and found myself in sweats and sweatshirts because I knew everyone was on the same page,” Emily J., 21, shares. “But toward the end of quarantine I got tired of not dressing up.” For her mental health, Emily used anywhere and everywhere as her own personal runway.  

Tania Rakel, owner of fashion boutique MOD ON TREND, has observed this as well, noting the shift she’s seen especially as things open back up. “People are tired of those comfy, stay-at-home looks and are looking for any excuse to dress up when they go out!” she tells Her Campus, and Emily A., 19, feels the same; she’s grown tired of only wearing pajamas, and jokes that the long-running stereotype about college students wearing their pjs to class isn’t so accurate anymore. “I’ve definitely noticed people dressing up more around campus,” she adds, now that they’re back to in-person classes. 

Maxine, 19, has stopped wearing athleisure altogether. “I was actually able to start exploring my personal style [in quarantine],” she tells Her Campus, “because I wasn’t scared to be seen as weird.” After all, there’s no pressure to try out something new when there’s nobody there to witness it.

“I didn’t start experimenting with clothes and finding my personal style until quarantine,” Natalie, 19, says. For her – and so many others – TikTok played a big part in that exploration. With more than 315 million installs in early 2020, TikTok became an outlet for self-expression while everyone was stuck inside, giving a platform to anyone and everyone who wanted one so that they could share their newfound styles with the world. This has led to models being scouted on the app, TikTok stars attending high fashion runway shows, and creators feeling comfortable expressing their true selves, but while TikTok may have helped push so many into developing and/or reclaiming their own styles, it’s far from the first time it’s happened. Throughout history, major events have had lasting impacts on fashion (e.g. utilitarian styles being popularized following World War II), and the COVID pandemic was no exception. 

Some have settled into a more permanently relaxed personal style, others have taken the opportunity to try things out they’d never had the nerve to before, and others still have come to the realization that what they thought was their style prior to quarantine actually wasn’t; some weren’t dressing for themselves. “Quarantine helped me be more true to myself in my style,” Emily A. says. “By having more time to focus on myself, I spent more time figuring out what I really wanted to wear.” 

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter to anyone else what you’ve embraced as your personal style, but it’s clear that quarantine has led to a shift in what’s considered acceptable. Whether you think it’s time to switch the sweats out for leather pants or you’re comfortable sticking to pajama bottoms exclusively, professional comfort and casual extravagance have both found their places in everyday fashion, thanks to quarantine. 

Expert Sources:

Diana Zola, founder of Nina Zola
Maria Juvakka, fashion blogger
Tania Rakel, owner of MOD ON TREND

Hi! I'm an editorial intern at Her Campus and Senior Editor at HC Pace! I can recite Gilmore Girls lines from memory and you can find me wherever books, dogs, or concerts are.
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