While the fashion world has started sending out messages, welcoming the return of extravagant fashion and the idea of dressing up, we here in Australia are still in a relative holding pattern of “don’t get too excited,” exemplified by Victorians who unfortunately headed back into lockdown this week.
While it makes sense that retailers and designers want us to spend some money, the Jazz Age exuberance we are seeing in the real estate market is not really translating so well to fashion as we reach for the track pants and slippers. Again.
I don’t think the comfort-first mentality of COVID dressing has disappeared, nor will it on the near horizon.
There’s a whole shift in why we are dressing up, and what we are dressing up for, as special events get scheduled, cancelled and re-scheduled. There is something very nurturing about athleisure, about leggings and oversized and protective outwear.
Even the shift to regional travel and local holiday destinations is changing how we pack. There is no real necessity to dress up, for the most part – we are not going to be in airport lounges, or international hotels and resorts, or in queues at Customs. When you are holidaying in an Airbnb and driving to self-contained stays, or glamping, there are no other pesky people to impress.
You can throw anything you want into the boot of your car, there isn’t any strict luggage allowance, no rules. You don’t even have to think about what to pack, or check the weather where you’re going, you can chuck in a parka and swimsuit and your wellies, your favourite nana dressing gown, 14 different types of sunblock and a parrot in cage if you like. It’s very liberating, relaxing even.
You don’t need a proper suitcase, or ergonomic luggage on wheels. You can stuff everything in shopping bags if you like. Best of all, you can keep local businesses afloat by buying as many souvenirs as you like, and throwing them on the backseat, something I have been doing a lot lately as every preserve and chutney shop in the Southern Highlands can attest.
I’ve had marvellous exchanges with all the lady who sells the handknit baby cardigans in Berry, the crochet quilt women in Leura, the Japanese salad dressing man in Berrima, the secondhand china vendor in Kangaroo Valley and the gift shop attendant in the National Gallery in Canberra.
All these have been done while wearing the same fetching outfit: black track pants, T-shirt, grey roll neck sweater and sneakers, plus a puffer jacket if required. Maybe hoop earrings (if I can be bothered).
The newly vaccinated northern hemisphere fashion crowd can bang on about brand-new summer dresses for cocktails by the pool in Lake Como, and the high-volume fun of disco mules, but I feel like we still have a long road ahead of us this winter – mostly walked in stretch fabrics.