How COVID-19 Has Changed The Way We Dress

Jo Munro
on November 30, 2020

Fashion Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bel talks about how COVID-19 has changed the way we dress based on insights from Afterpay’s Bi-Annual Global Trends Report. Here, she talks to our shopping expert Jo Munro.

With the change to our ways of working due to COVID-19, how has this impacted what we wear and what we want to wear moving forward?

Never before in our lifetime, have we experienced something that has shaped behaviour across the globe in near-identical fashion. Across the world and in Australia, we embraced comfortable loungewear and athleisure. Although we’re craving the psychological impact of ‘comfort-dressing’ and we can see this trend continuing according to the Global Trends Report with Aussies shopping for sneakers, slides and sandals over other styles such as stilettos, fashion’s relaxed mood won’t last forever. Human’s crave novelty, so it’s expected that we’ll see a departure from head-to-toe athleisure. Mixing staples with more formal looks are expected to grow in popularity with outfits such as blazers paired with sweatpants and hoodies and so forth.

woman in sundress resting on bed on oriental room
Photo by Evgenia Basyrova on

How does uncertainty / stress impact shopping trends?

We see people’s mood impact their shopping trends. Embracing expressive clothing styles is a way for Aussies to have fun and escape the harsh realities of the pandemic and lockdown. Cow print, in particular, is trending, as is the sunflower print.

The top colours being shopped are blue and orange. Light and cool colours like blue are typically associated with calmness, relaxation and peace people want to tap into these colours as a source of comfort to de-stress. Warm colours like orange are often associated with excitement, stimulation and fun, tapping into these colours can provide an emotional lift.

woman wearing orange v neck overall dress sitting on chair
Photo by Ogo on

With the introduction of cow print, long sleeve bathers/cozzie, block colours for the summer season, are we dressing based on what is happening in the world or despite it?

Style doesn’t exist in a silo and current events will always impact the way people choose to dress. All of these trends are rather expressive and are a major departure from the ‘normcore’ style which has somewhat fallen out of popularity. I believe people are experimenting with more expressive styles because eccentric outfits have been shown to carry a tension release dimension due to their ability to help consumers escape from the humdrum nature of their lockdown realities.


What are the three key changes for the new season?

The three key changes for the Aussies this summer are:

  • Prints vs. logos – whilst in autumn and winter we saw logos trending, the trend has switched to loud prints such as cow and sunflower
  • Palette – in autumn and winter, our colour palette was much more muted. We saw neutral tones such as grey, brown and beige being styled from head to toe, likely a reflection of our apathetic mood as a result of the lockdown
  • Swimwear – long-sleeved cozzies are making a resurgence, a style that is more unique than usual. However, Aussies are also keen to show off their lockdown workout bodies with Brazilian bikinis.
clear enjoyment fun goggles
Photo by Pixabay on

What are the three must have trends/items/looks we need for summer 2020?

The first must-have trend is cow print. Attracting celebrities fans such as Beyonce and Katy Perry, cow print is the must-have trend for summer 2020. For Aussies wanting to add a touch of the print to their outfits, cow-inspired shoes, clutches and phone cases are the perfect accessories.

Summer is here so if you’re looking to buy swimwear, long-sleeved cozzies are the styles that will be trending. They’re great for sun protection and they’re a unique fashion statement that will turn heads at the beach or by the pool.

Bianca Bucket Hats
Bianca Bucket hat from ASOS

The final must-have trend is bucket hats! They divided the nation when they surged in popularity in 2019 but they’re set to continue to have a place on heads across the country this summer, as they top this year’s trending accessories.

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