Pants and Personalization: How 2020 Was a New Era For Fashion

It is impressive to me that during a pandemic while everything else slowed down, fashion trends did quite the opposite. Whether it was because we had time to get more creative in quarantine, or because we used fashion as a relief during stressful times, the current trends I’ve seen on and off campus reflect some of the highest levels of originality and appeal I’ve ever witnessed. What exactly are they, and why do they seem more creative than ever before?

The main difference I’ve noticed with fashion trends today has to do with the general category of pants. Pants have grown to become much more of the statement piece of the outfit, when in the past the top usually provided the pop. 

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Skinny jeans are quickly being replaced by baggier denim, both ripped and whole. Jackie Cochran, MCAS ’23, said that looser pants that have more of a straight fit are very in right now. The comfort of this style makes her a fan of this era in fashion. 

Chloe Stanley, Lynch ’23, also noted the comfort of today’s current trends since looser and baggier clothing has become more fashionable. She called the rise of loose-fitting, more comfortable fashion “shapeless bag chic.”

People have also been experimenting with more vibrant colors beyond black or blue as well as with different materials like corduroy, velvet, and leather. I personally have gotten a lot more into fall-colored corduroy pants, paired with a belt and a more neutral top. 

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The rise of bottoms with standout designs has been aided by an uptick in people customizing their pants themselves. From a few stars on the waistline to a bleached lightning strike all the way down the leg, I’ve seen countless patterns on jeans that I used to see exclusively on tops and sweaters. 

The best part about fun and funky pants becoming a style staple is that people can completely transform their closet on their own to fit this trend with just a trip to the craft store and some creativity. Nikki Sewall, MCAS ’23, said that she’s seen an increased prevalence in customized pieces and DIY looks, and has engaged in this trend herself. 

“People have been a lot more involved in upcycling and shopping more sustainably,” Sewall said. “I’ve gotten much more into thrifting and DIYs, and so did lots of people around me.”

This trend toward more handmade fashion pieces ramped up early on in the COVID-19 pandemic because people couldn’t shop in person and had more time on their hands at home. Creativity and DIYs have extended far beyond pants. People started to spend their time customizing thrift finds or clothes they thought they’d never wear again with the embroidery and tie dye skills they picked up in quarantine. 

“Thrift flipping,” where people transform inexpensive second-hand clothes into trendier pieces customized to their style, has become a lot more popular as well. I’ve always wanted to try turning an ugly thrift buy into an elegant, one-of-a-kind design.

Similarly, many people were also excited by the idea of making their own jewelry, leading people to wear more statement pieces. Both Cochran and Sewall mentioned the significance of accessories in an outfit these days. Big statement earrings and necklaces have become the accessories that turned a plain look into a bold one, as have new pieces such as bandanas, bucket hats, and vibrant belts. The booming popularity of these accessories added a personalized element to people’s styles, and it is now much easier to set people apart than ever before. 

My personal favorites are hairpieces and jewelry. Before this summer, I had never really seen people wearing patterned bandanas. Now, they serve as a practical and popular way to tie hair back and to add a pop of color to an outfit. 

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I have also seen less hesitation toward wearing bigger, bolder earrings as well as layered necklace chains that serve as the focal point of a look rather than just adding to it. With a rising demand for unique jewelry and accessories, more students have turned toward smaller boutiques or online sellers to buy funky jewelry instead of going to bigger, more mainstream stores. Not only do boutique jewelry sellers provide a great way to support small businesses, but they also provide more innovative, less common jewelry designs.

Ultimately, the latest fashion trends reflect an inspiring sense of creativity, personalization, and uniqueness. People are generally more willing to trail from the classic skinny jeans and comfy sweater look to something more bold. Walking around campus, you may see more students with looks you’ve never seen before—chances are, they made or personalized their clothes themselves. 

Featured Photo Courtesy of Camila Coelho

Photos Courtesy of Gianni Laura, Nikki Sewall, and Celia Mathay

Sofia Fauza

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