Of all the changes 2020 has brought, the overhaul of our wardrobe may not be the biggest or most significant. Yet the pandemic has altered the act of getting dressed – or not – in myriad ways. You may have used the enforced pause to reassess your relationship with clothes, the planet and its people by taking up sewing, quitting fast fashion or streamlining your existing pieces. You might have shrugged off the restrictive uniform you wore to the office, instead embracing cosy and comforting lockdown loungewear. Perhaps you hate living in your leggings, and miss glamour and sparkle more than anything else.
Beyond altering our relationship with clothes, 2020 has also created new aesthetic communities; new clans to claim your part in, born out of isolation and fostered online. Shopping platform Lyst today releases its Year in Review, analysing the fashion searches, views and sales of 100 million shoppers to see what we wore in 2020 – and why. The report identifies six main fashion families, from cottagecore to e-wear – style-conscious collectives who used their clothes to express their creativity in a year that has been anything but ordinary. Read on to see which of 2020's sartorial syndicates you belong to.
2020 made control feel further from our grasp than ever before, leading many to seek solace in the stars instead. "The feeling of uncertainty was prevalent this year, causing people to turn to astrology and amulets that could offer guidance and protection," according to Lyst’s report. Beyond birth charts and palm readings, this played out in our wardrobes, too, with searches including "zodiac sign" and "birth sign" collectively rising 56% year on year. Naturally, when Meghan Markle was snapped wearing an evil eye necklace in April, search soared 58% the following month. Your mystical must-follows include Vogue columnist and astrologer Alice Bell, whose celestial style is enough to have you shopping star sign pieces, stat, while Jessica Pimentel eclipses all others in Realisation Par’s 1996 Zodiac print dress.
Retro sportswear has been making a comeback for some time now but lockdown’s daily walks, socially distanced outdoor activities and errand runs saw us lean into the kicky aesthetic more than ever. Searches for pleated tennis skirts rose 33% in June, led by Nike’s Court Victory skirt, while bike shorts hit a 43% uplift in September. Chloé Pierre nailed the all-white Grand Slam look in summer, while Sofia Coelho showed how the pleated sports skirt can be remixed with the rest of your wardrobe. Now, as The Crown’s fourth season hits Netflix, we’re poring over Princess Diana’s best gym looks – oversized sweatshirt, cycling shorts and tube socks included.
Whether you found yourself WFH this year or long lockdown weekends got you better acquainted with your sofa, there’s no doubt your denim and blazers were replaced with softer silhouettes and cosier fabrics. In April, as we settled into lockdown, Lyst found that searches for joggers went up 123% compared to the same time last year, while leggings saw a jump of 48%. Maybe you donned knitted co-ords or perhaps you went for the ‘80s-inspired sweatshirt – either way, comfort was key and loungewear reigned supreme. While Monikh Dale’s colour coordination had us shopping pastel sets, Brittany Bathgate teamed her grey two-piece with felt Birkenstock Bostons, both inspiring our 2020 homebound looks.
From hardwearing and weatherproof materials to utilitarian and functional styles, we embraced fashion fit for the apocalypse this year. Perhaps the fussy frills of our pre-pandemic wardrobe felt out of place in such anxious times or maybe the face masks we now wear every day ushered in a Mad Max aesthetic; either way, a survivalist style took over in 2020. Whether you opted for hiking and hunting-inspired pieces (think fishing vests, hiking boots and belt bags) like Courtney Trop, or cyberpunk style (combat boots and leather jackets soared year on year by 49% and 32% respectively) like Augurd, getting dressed for the end of the world seemed fitting for the times.
If this year you found yourself leaning towards kitsch cardigans, puff-sleeved blouses and chintzy floral prints, you’re not alone. Reflecting city-dwellers’ desires to up sticks and flee to a romanticised countryside, all thatched cottages and glistening streams, our wardrobes underwent a bucolic refresh. Searches for nap dresses – billowing cotton dresses made for wafting around cornfields – spiked 22% in July, while the cottagecore tag has nearly 1 million hits on Instagram and over 4.5 billion views on TikTok. Look to Paula Sutton of Hill House Vintage and Janna Morton for idyllic styling tips, and Shrimps and Doen for rustic and romantic pieces.
While it was 2019 that made the e-girl and e-boy, thanks to TikTok’s increasing influence, the wide-eyed, anime-inspired gamer aesthetic was one of 2020’s most prevalent subcultures, with e-boy Noen Eubanks becoming the face of CELINE’s SS20 collection. According to Lyst, searches for Sailor Moon-inspired skirts went up 16%, while mesh tees rose by 20% and single dangly earrings saw a 72% bump. Make like Krutika and Daniela and don neon hues and hardware accessories.