It is hard to imagine that the standard of dressing for women a century ago involved a team of hired help, bustles, corsets and uncomfortable clothing just to venture to market for supplies. Even a half-century ago women wore pencil skirts and fancy blouses to iron clothes and vacuum the house. The fashion trends of today vs. the past are markedly different and undeniably more comfortable. Not only have clothing styles become less restrictive and uncomfortable, modern fabric blends are also manufactured to feel cool, stretchy and weightless on the body.
The restrictive lace-up Victorian boots of the last century have given way to today’s slip-on comfort athleisure footwear worn by many women. The progressively-casual clothing styles have become even more laid back in recent years. Yoga pants are no longer reserved for yoga, pilates and ballet barre workout classes. Tank tops, leggings and slip-on sneakers are the go-to outfit of choice for busy moms running errands, meanwhile brands of women’s boxer briefs are taking off thanks to a growing market for comfy gender-neutral clothing from top to bottom. Name brand sweatshirts, with top-dollar price tags, are even being shown on the runways by today’s hottest designers. These couture fashion houses and designers, once known for their elite gowns, are now selling logo sweatshirts and silk jogger pants.
Advancements in manufacturing and the textile industry are partly responsible for the way fashion trends have progressed. New fabric blends with softer and stretchier hands are being created by fancy machines every day. These draped and flowing fabric blends have a liquid look and feel; this lends a casual and carefree vibe. Structured and stuffy polyester tops and velvet petticoats are no longer functional pieces of apparel for modern women.
Another reason comfortable clothing is so trendy is that modern society is always on the go. From raising children to heading the PTA, working eight to ten hours a day, cooking dinner, hosting family events and documenting our lives on social media, women are busier than ever. It would be impractical to run around town in nine layers of clothing today. Women need quick, pulled-together and comfortable apparel that will effortlessly take them from a busy day at the office to a date night with their significant other.
For many women, jeans, t-shirts, and athletic shoes are the mainstays of wardrobes. For women working in a more corporate environment, pantsuits, pencil skirts and Oxford blouses with stilettos may make up the core pieces in the closets. Teachers may rely on a wardrobe of khaki pants, colorful maxi dresses, cardigans and stretchy tops.
Fashionistas may have a well-balanced wardrobe of classic pieces from top designers; they take a minimalist approach to dressing with few mix-and-match pieces in a neutral color palette. A fashionista may own a pair or two of dark-wash jeans, a moto jacket, a trench coat, a blazer, a couple of cardigans, several button-down shirts, a few tank tops, a pencil skirt, a little black dress and a couple of flats, pumps and ankle boots. No matter what style aesthetic is preferred or needed, modern women want to look pulled together and feel comfortable in their clothing.
Dressing for comfort does not translate into looking unkempt or frumpy. A long tunic cardigan over a pair of leggings and a tank top with Chelsea boots is a fluid, fashionable and comfortable ensemble that most women can wear from day into night. As time marches on, clothing styles and trends will continue to reflect lifestyle demands, pop culture and changes in manufacturing.