When fashion week comes around, between the street style and dozens of runway shows, I’m often visually overwhelmed—and this year was no different. Once I got over my impulse to throw all my clothing out (it happens every fashion month), I finally digested the collections and came to one, overarching conclusion: Everyone just wants to be comfortable and cozy.
At least, that seemed to be the aim, when it comes to dressing, for both designers and the people who turned out to watch their shows. That things are headed in a decidedly more casual direction isn’t entirely surprising given the rise of athleisure and its offshoots leisurée to bathleisure. Still, you know something’s in the air when even a designer like Tom Ford, known for his steadfast dedication to sensuality and glamour—often at the expense of comfort—switches gears and presents a collection that looks, well, soft.
For his FW19 presentation, which was shown on Feb. 6, the third day of New York Fashion Week, Ford sent models down the runway in a number of looks that exuded power and confidence (his trademark) but from a decidedly less sexually charged place: The models wore satin pants, velvet blazers, and a number of them wore a black hoodie layered into their perspective looks.
Then, there was Tory Burch (the designer behind the color-blocked parka pictured in the feature photo). Her fashion sense tends to skew toward the feminine and form-fitting, but for her latest collection, she sent a number of models out in looks that can only be described as poncho dresses—plus, plenty of flowy tops and skirts that eschewed structure and definition.
Other examples include Eckhaus Latta, which collaborated with Uggs to send a series of chunky, shearling-lined heels down its runway with knit separates like color-blocked skirts and sweaters. Sandy Liang was clearly on a mission to move fleece from granola-hiking staple to fashion-forward and highly covetable essential. At her show last week, in addition to her now staple fleece pullovers, she sent out a model in a somehow chic and structured fleece dress. Meanwhile, Rachel Comey, arbiter of the “cool Brooklyn mom” aesthetic, found a way to make rolling out of bed an even more literal and plausible reality with several pairs of quilted duvet pants. Even the skirts on display this season seem to be about maximizing coziness and comfort. Hemlines were long across collections. Ulla Johnson, especially, seemed devoted to nothing short of ankle-length.
This general attitude of let’s make life as easy as possible extended to accessories, too. Handfuls of designers including the likes of Ford, Rebecca Minkoff, Tibi, and more were about huge carryalls. The type of purse that is so big it can double as your gym bag or even a weekender.
So, what do we have to thank for this collective shift? It’s not entirely clear, but what I do know is that, for the last few years, the world’s felt like an especially cold and frigid place (and I’m not just talking about climate change). This, coupled with women asserting their power in the cultural sphere may have something to do with the whole comfort-is-confidence aesthetic that seems to be driving the current collections. Regardless of what we have to thank for it, the biggest fashion week trend we’re getting behind this season is this: How uncomfortable you are is no longer an indicator of how “cool” you look.
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