Filing into the “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum on a recent winter day was pure fashion entertainment.
Museum goers of all ages and shapes donned ensembles befit for the uber-trendy borough. Slouchy overcoats in vibrant colors, loose menswear-inspired trousers, neon-colored sweatshirts, oversized blazers, tweed jackets, leather pants, messy hair, baseball caps, micro designer bags on chain straps, chunky black boots and lots of white sneakers.
Everyone seemed to get the style memo: casual, but make it stylish.
“Since the pandemic, there has been a desire to prioritize comfort and functionality without sacrificing personal style. However, the pent-up demand for ‘going out’ fashion, combined with a return to tailoring and suiting can’t be ignored, especially as consumers enter the end-of-year party season,” says Kayla Marci, market analyst for retail intelligence firm Edited.
Today’s casualization is less about “following the rules” and more about mixing high- and low-price points and categories together, notes Sunny Zheng, analyst at Coresight Research, a global advisory and research firm specializing in retail and technology.
“Now that consumers’ lives are resuming, we are seeing them seeking out elevated casual looks and a mixing of casual pieces with event-wear or occasion wear—for example mixing jeans with a festive top and jacket,” Zheng says.
Since July, the number of women’s blazers selling out online across the US and UK for the first time soared 98% year-over-year, while high heel shoe sell-outs jumped 15% year-over-year, according to Edited.
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Throughout Fall 2022, casualwear was defined by Y2K styles like cargo and parachute pants and denim skirts, says Marci. “The unusually warm weather saw retailers push light layers and baggy oversized fits instead of traditional seasonal styles like puffer coats.”
Preppy styling, Marci says, as seen on the runways from designers like Coach and Tommy Hilfiger, will continue to shape athleisure next year.
“Retailers can be expected to design into rugby stripes, branding, varsity lettering, tracksuits, pleated skirts and matching sets,” Marci says. “This trend will complement the already established tenniscore aesthetic and tap into the fast-growing interest of country club and racket sports like pickleball and padel.”
Retail analysts expect casualization will remain strong in 2023, with continued demand for denim, sportswear and athleisure.
“We predict faster growth of occasion wear categories compared to casual and active wear in 2023, but we do not expect the casualization trend to disappear,” Zheng says. “This was a trend that had already been set in motion before the pandemic.”
Following the success of luxury sportswear collaborations this year, such as Gucci X Adidas, Jacquemus X Nike and Ganni X New Balance, athleisure will continue to become “more elevated,” according to Marci.
“Both styles have the potential to coexist with each other,” Marci says. “Carbon 38 and Girlfriend Collective have already released higher-end collections with premium fabrics and luxurious details designed to transcend exercise and daywear to be paired with ‘going out’ outfits.”
Another example of breaking fashion rules is lingerie as daywear.
“It’s gaining popularity particularly among Generation Z, who are in awe of social media celebrities,” Zheng says. “A key reason for this trend to come back is post-pandemic people have now learnt to accept and love themselves.”
What was once considered scandalous, a la Madonna’s cone-shap bra in the 1980s, is now mainstream.
The way people are layering lingerie also recalls the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
“For example, large shirts are worn open at the front to show a bra, light-colored dresses are worn to show dark-colored undergarments,” Zheng says.
The lingerie trend is “favored by the Jenners and Bella Hadid, who have been spotted pairing exposed briefs with knitwear, stockings or Uggs,” Marci says. “This theme borrows boudoir elements while keeping comfort in mind. Satin co-ords, slip dresses, bralettes, silk headscarves and ballet flats also contribute to this emerging theme.”
One can guess the late French designer Mugler, whose designs drew heavy on lingerie influences and whose corsetry-inspired catsuits were recently worn on stage by artists like Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion, would have approved.