“Sometimes I surprise myself. From the cool diva of the pre-pandemic era, I have now become just the opposite,” says Tanushree Jana. The 25-year-old artist laughs, calling herself “brand ambassador of the ‘casual-est’ of casual wear”, happily taking recourse to “comfortable alternatives” that her wardrobe now throws up.
Going by the uber-cool style statements that global fashionistas are now making, this chapter of pandemic fashion — wherein ‘uber-casual’ is the buzzword — is likely to stay on for a while. Recently, we’ve had celebs such as Jennifer Aniston and Jodie Foster attending (OK, virtually) the Emmy and Golden Globes awards ceremonies in casual clothes. While Jennifer was there in a silk embroidered robe paired with a blingy necklace, Jodie turned up in a white and black pyjama outfit.
“Stuff like this would have been unheard of prior to this period — when pyjamas were meant only for the night,” smiles Pushkal Prasad, who runs two “responsible” clothing brands. Talking about the time the first lockdown was unleashed, he says, “For our meetings on Zoom, we would be out there in our formals, but soon realised we’d be better off without all that jazz.” He now ensures his upper body is presentable, “complete with gelled hair and a formal shirt, a la Hrithik Roshan in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”.
With WFH becoming the norm since the dreaded 2020, the social media has forced people to come up with a list of must-dos for virtual meetings, “such as bright-hued tops to brighten up the mood of meetings”, says lifestyle blogger Shifa Merchant. “But as I always tell my friends, no one should forget to wear decent lowers. You might have to get up for some reason or the other! Going by some viral memes and videos — of people caught with their pants down — it could get embarrassing,” she laughs.
Virtual meetings, says Merchant, must also not see you in chunky jewellery, “including bangles that can irritate with their jingling sound and earrings as they can get pretty distracting — sometimes, annoying — when something serious is being discussed”.
Happy that the pandemic has allowed casual wear to become the norm, Sushasini Malik hates it when people show up on Zoom with not just unkempt hair but also a stubble and unplucked eyebrows. “They think that all this is not visible on camera. But truth be told, it is, and hence, best avoided,” says the media executive.
The lipstick index may have taken a nosedive, but the spotlight has shifted to the eyes and skin, feels Prasad. “Even guys are becoming particular about their skin and hair.” Being a propagator of the au naturel, he feels happy that ingredients from the kitchen are making their way into masks for skin and hair care.
What’s more, the pandemic has forced people to do a rethink on fashion, with most veering towards the ‘dressing down’ camp, as against the ‘dressing up’ one. “However, this does not take away from people’s need for higher self-esteem. Of course, the focus has shifted from a need to look good for others to feeling good for themselves,” says wellness coach Garima Bhandari. In her interactions with people, she has noticed a “happy change” among the millennials — a shift towards minimalism. “This could well be because they feel there’s no point in wasting money on expensive outfits that are just going to hang in their closet. Let’s just stick to being casual, simple and smart — that’s the pandemic gyan for all of us,” she adds and hopes it stays that way.
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