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Non-restrictive, fluid fabrics have been around for a while, with brands like The Row, Totême and Raey championing the relaxed look long before the start of the pandemic. But, of course, it was those lockdowns that really sent comfort dressing into overdrive. Denim and tailoring gave way to tracksuits, while boots and heels were switched for slippers and trainers. With a whole lot of staying at home in front of us, we invested in leisurewear like never before and the fashion industry pivoted accordingly. While the recent success of maximalist brands like Amina Muaddi and Mach & Mach has shown high-octane dressing is not dead, comfort still reigns supreme.
Tracksuits, trainers and knitted separates are going nowhere, but the interpretation of comfort dressing is being elevated. There’s a new hybrid style emerging: denim is back on the agenda, but fashion girls are favouring a looser, longer shape more akin to a tracksuit bottom; tailoring has returned, but with Frankie Shop-esque silhouettes rather than anything too slim fitting; and coats have moved closer to dressing gowns – think long hemlines, belted waists and minimalistic designs that are easy to throw over chunky knits. Alongside all of this, there have been a few Marmite trends like the balaclava, JW Anderson’s shearling clogs and the return of Ugg boots.
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You don’t have to look too hard for inspiration on how to get elevated comfort right. Sandra Heinrich Sauceda (@Filis_Pina) is an early adopter of the look. A lover of loose trousers, bulky sweaters and masculine coats, you’ll also see her wearing Ugg slippers to the supermarket. Often it’s the sheer volume of fabric that makes her looks so effortlessly cool, while a considered, tonal palette and the right pair of sunglasses keep things polished not slovenly. Felicia Akerstrom (@Fakerstrom) has tapped right into the laidback, sportswear-inspired collegiate trend, increasingly favouring trainers over loafers and a baseball cap for cool off-duty vibes. On the runway, Balenciaga’s SS22 show saw hints of tailoring anchored in slouchy shapes, while both Bottega Veneta and Max Mara championed soft, teddy-like fabrics in accessories, outerwear and dresses.
The key to doing comfort dressing well is: elevate the more relaxed elements with more polished ones. That might mean tucking a jumper into some wide-leg trousers to show off your waist, adding a pair of hoop earrings to make a sweatshirt feel more feminine, or balancing out a pair of comfy joggers with a more structured blazer on top. Accessories are your friend too – belts, sunglasses, leather handbags and hats all ensure a more relaxed look feels considered. If in doubt, stick to a tonal colour palette to pull things together, and ensure your pieces are well ironed to create a polished finish.