It's been more than a year of wearing sweatpants and slippers and having no place to go that requires us to put on anything nicer.

But as we emerge from our post-pandemic cocoons, will we be dressy butterflies or will we want to remain as comfortable, stretch-waistband caterpillars?

Both, say fashion historians and style experts.

"Everyone is sick. Sick of wearing sweatpants. Sick of wearing pajamas," said Kara Nesvig, a style and culture writer from St. Paul who said she's seeing an eagerness to shop and dress up again.

But Anupama Pasricha, chair of the department of apparel, merchandising and design at St. Catherine University, said, "Comfort will remain an important attribute."

"I don't think leggings are going anywhere," she said.

The tension between staying comfortable and getting dressy will be resolved with fashions that feature freer silhouettes, say the fashion experts.

Minneapolis style writer Jahna Peloquin said she expects to see looser fitting jeans and dresses, a "loose sexy vibe" reminiscent of the Studio 54 era 1970s or the early 1990s.

Pasricha said we might see some "pancho-style" outfits to re-create the coziness we've gotten used to.

If a garment is fitted, it likely will be made with a stretchier, more comfortable material, she said, like pants that look dressy but feel like athletic wear.

We might be trying hybrid outfits, pairing sporty track pants with a blazer for an "upscale comfortable" look, said Jacqueline Parr, assistant professor in apparel, merchandising and design at St. Catherine University.

In the post-pandemic era, maybe we'll see something like the glamorous ultrafeminine style of Dior's "New Look" which emerged after the austerity and gloom of World War II.

Or perhaps we'll experience something like the rouge your knees and roll your stockings down exuberance seen in the flapper styles of the Roaring '20s.

Pasricha said our re-entry outfits may feature rising hemlines. Hemlines often rise as optimism increases, she said. Plus, we'll want to show off the part of our bodies that have been hidden during Zoom meetings.

"We want to show our legs," she said.

Similarly, Pasricha expects cheerful colors. That could mean soft pastels or floral prints.

"I want to wear color," said Nesvig. "Yellow I feel particularly drawn to, maybe because it feels optimistic."

"Fluorescents might come back," Pasricha said. "They're more joyful, more electric."

Because remote work isn't going to go away, Pasricha thinks fashion trends might put emphasis on the upper body, with more design attention to collars and sleeves. Maybe shoulder pads will make a comeback. Or think what a statement a ruff collar would make.

It's not as ridiculous as it sounds. Designer Jennifer Ybarra offers 59 kinds of ruff collars at her Etsy shop,, ranging from basic white to jewel tones to animal prints. There's even one suitable for your cat.

If you want to rock your inner Queen Elizabeth I or Sir Walter Raleigh at your next Zoom meeting, who's to say otherwise?

Our year of living cautiously has meant a dearth of street style, celebrity style, runway and red carpet events.

"We're kind of in this rare moment where there's no style being dictated by the outside world," Peloquin said. So it's up to you to decide for yourself.

"Everything is fair game," she said.

Richard Chin • 612-673-1775


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