By now, we’ve all heard about the success of loungewear during lockdown. The fact that sweatpants prevailed while all else was put on pause has been thoroughly hammered into our brains by reports, collections focusing on loungewear, and even NYFW trends. But what did people wear when they weren’t bundled up in hoodies and joggers? (Certainly not jeans.) According to Instagram, intimates, from nightgowns to bras and boxer shorts, were the other quarantine go-to. But rather than wearing underwear as just underwear, homebodies are now styling their lingerie in ways more appropriate for daytime wear.
Despite its popularity in lockdown, the lingerie-as-outerwear trend actually traces back to B.C. (before coronavirus). Last September, Katie Holmes made waves on Instagram and beyond when she was photographed hailing a cab in Manhattan wearing a cashmere bra underneath a matching cashmere cardigan. (Both items, courtesy of NY-based brand Khaite, quickly sold out despite the bra alone costing $520 (£400), and the cardigan ringing in at $1,540 (£1,171); they’ve both since been restocked.) Months later, at Jacquemus’ autumn ‘20 runway show in January, we seldom saw a model walk wearing a full-length top. Instead, most of the womenswear ensembles included in the 63-look collection were topped off with bras — bras, we might add, that were made of mohair with “whisper thin straps.” (Swoon.) Fellow designers followed suit in February, with wearable intimates, from corsets to garters, finding their way onto runways at Dion Lee, Rosetta Getty, and Sandy Liang in New York and Gucci and Fendi in Milan.
Then COVID-19 happened, leaving many fashion brands struggling to make ends meet and consumers saving their pennies for the uncertain future. But while many a pre-pandemic trend (head-to-toe leather and ultra-tailored suiting, for example) didn’t thrive in lockdown for these very reasons, given that everyone already has a collection of intimates on hand, overwear wasn’t going to be one of them. Suddenly, the concept of being “half-dressed” was regular on the Instagram feed, with many styling blazers sans bra with nothing but a cute pair of underwear and loafers and using their lacey bras as tops rather than items meant to be hidden. In the same vein, swimsuit tops became staples outside of water, and boxers were transformed into women’s shorts for photoshoots. Everywhere we looked, the unmentionables were being, well, mentioned.
Holed up at home, it was inevitable that, at a certain point, a craving for fashion that made you feel sexy set in, even if no one was there to see it. That same sentiment has been thoroughly shared on Twitter. One user named Chris Paul wrote, "How did you spend the pandemic?” Followed by: “Mostly just trying on different name-brand underwear and self-photographing my ass for Instagram.” Another, Lord Williams, wrote, “My whole day is now consumed with taking tasteful nudes and eating noodles. Thank you coronavirus for fixing my relationship with myself.”
On the other end, comfortable underwear was also being showcased, with granny panties and bloomers being worn as daywear now more than ever before. (Kim Kardashian West first made granny panties sexy by famously posing in them in her bathtub back in June of 2019.) Today, eight months into the pandemic, granny panties are so popular in fashion that, during Paris Fashion Week in October, fashion influencer Camille Charriere wore a high-cut knit bodysuit — that, styled with a belt, looked like a pair of granny panties on the bottom —and a bedazzled sheer skirt to the Miu Miu show. (The spring ‘21 Miu Miu collection went on to include velvet bloomers and see-through nighties.)
Whether the reasoning for the trend's rise in popularity in lockdown had more to do with comfort, sex appeal, or trendiness, people are no longer afraid of showing skin on social media. And that’s not changing anytime soon. From where we’re sitting — that is, on the sofa in some combination of cute underwear and an oversized blazer — tops are only getting smaller, bottoms shorter, and clothing more sheer and lingerie-like the farther into 2020 we get. Which begs the question: Will we wear anything but exposed lingerie at home in 2021? If we're to believe Instagram, it seems unlikely.