I’d love to think of myself as the ultimate fashionista, but I’m not. That said, I love fall, and part of ringing in the best season of the year is checking out the September issue of Vogue. But I’m not really feeling it this year, are you?

A cursory google search of fall fashion this year led me to this article in Vogue on how to integrate the color that’s hot this season – yellow- into my wardrobe. Thanks, 2020, you gave me a garbage color to go with this crappy year. Don’t get me wrong, yellow is actually my favorite color for walls, décor, gardens, but I’m a pale, freckled redhead so there probably isn’t a color on the spectrum that I look worse wearing. But I digress.

I dug a little deeper into the fashion bible to discover the theme of the September issue this fall is hope. I give big applause to that, because we can all use a double dose of hope this fall. But fashion? Do we even need it anymore? Is there any actual hope for this industry that is certainly taking hits left and right thanks to the pandemic?

Shopping Made the Problem Worse

I donned a mask and headed out to some of my favorite shops to see what they were peddling this fall, an experience I usually find enjoyable. Not surprisingly, it just wasn’t the same this year. Like many people, the pandemic has made me hyper-aware of my budget so everytime I found a cute top or skirt I would find myself asking ‘what’s the point? No one will ever see this except for over Zoom, and that’s only if I bother. Is it worth it?’ I came home with no new items.

Is Fashion Dead?

I turned to fashion guru and celebrity stylist, Felix Mercado, who I consider to be my fashion fairy godfather, for some much-needed inspiration and reassurance, but even he conceded that the fashion world, like the rest of the globe, isn’t what it used to be and may not be coming back.

“There’s no telling when office buildings will be back to 100% capacity, but our lives have changed forever, and the way we dress has to,” notes Mercado.

“We’ve slipped into what I call a fashion coma,” said Mercado. “A deep sleep of comfy clothes that require no effort, ironing, dry cleaning, mixing or matching.”

I glanced down at my comfy sweatpants which were not at a good match either in fabric choice or style for the shirt I was wearing. He couldn’t be more right, but then he did talk me off the ledge that I may have been considering walking off…

There is Still a Minimal Bar

“Some take it way over the edge wearing sleepwear to the supermarket. Eeeeeek!”

Um, I’m not going to say I was considering heading out in my pajama pants to the grocery, but I’m not going to claim I wasn’t either. I was snapped back to reality just in the knick of time.

Fashion of the Future

The answer to 2020’s fashion question according to Mercado: athleisure wear. It’s a “hybrid fashion that can go from the gym to the workplace. It’s casual, comfortable, and easy to dress up or down. Kind of like garanimals for adults.”

Mercado reminds us not to forget adding masks in as part of a whole outfit. They are easier to pair as a match or an interesting contrast with athleisure wear while protecting yourself and others.

Best Brands

There is a growing bank of brands to choose from as retailers scramble to catch up with what the world has thrown at us. Mercado recommends Patagonia as the best overall athleisure brand for women, and likes Lululemon if you are feeling a little spendy and Athleta if you are trying to keep to a budget. For inclusivity and a broad range of sizes (00-40) Mercado recommends Universal Standard, because one size does not fit all.

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About Laura Keyes Ellsworth

Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.

View all posts by Laura Keyes Ellsworth

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