When it comes to workwear, it seems normal is never coming back. A new poll from D2C stylist/clothing e-tailer Stitch Fix finds the pandemic has made such a lasting impact on America's fashion sense that many -- a third of respondents -- say they'd take a 10% pay cut rather than dress up for work each day.
The new preferences may be as much about a psychic change as a sartorial shift. Among Stitch Fix’s women customers, 58% say their entire look has changed during the pandemic, as do 53% of men.
The trend is toward what the company calls "business comfort," with 77% saying they've sworn off at least some of their former business clothes for good. (Blazers and dress pants top the list.) Nor is it just a youth movement, with 51% of baby boomers saying they hope never to wear a business suit again.
A little more sophisticated than the previous "business casual," movement, the new vibe relies on oversized stretch blazers, elastic-waist bottoms, sweater dresses and plenty of new "knoven" tops: a combination of knit and woven fabrics.
But perhaps the most significant trend, based on requests from 4.2 million Stitch Fix customers, input from thousands of stylists and a survey of 1,000 people, is the move toward closet cleaning. As they get closer to heading back to the office, 67% of consumers plan to replace one-third of their wardrobe, with 33% planning to replace at least half. For millennials, that rises to 79%.
And while denim is back in, with searches for jeans rising 30%, anything "skinny" isn't, with wide-leg jeans leading the search trends and increasing 70%. About 35% say they'll never wear "skinny" anything again.
There is also a spike in glamming it up for special occasions, with 44% overall intending to replace their going-out clothes. For Gen Z, that rises to 61%.
Stitch Fix predicts little change in the athleisure segment, which continues to be its fastest-growing category. Performance-driven active sales also keep building steam as people expand their wardrobe for pandemic hobbies, including tennis, golf and hiking.
Customers are craving brilliance, leading the company to name magenta as its color of the year. Other supersaturated colors are close behind, including mint, mustard and purple for women, with men dressing in dusty lavender, dark green and coral.
Ulta, which just released its beauty forecasts, sees a similarly bright year ahead, with pops of attention-getting color on eyes, lips and nails. For hair, it anticipates a rainbow of pale pink blondes, soft apricot, cognac reds, and dramatic dark violet.
But grey is making a comeback as more people go natural. And more natural looks are also defining what's ahead as more people embrace Black-owned brands, such as actress Tracee Ellis Ross' Pattern, which markets hair-care products.
In skincare, that love of nature is likely to appear in the form of more thoughtfully harvested botanicals and wild foraged skincare.