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Style Advice

Your guide to dressing after a year in sweats

Your guide to dressing after a year in sweats

Remember suits? No, unfortunately sweat suits don’t count. We’re talking suit jackets, crisp white shirts, and leather footwear that you have to break in before they become comfortable. Because lest you forget, there was a time when ironing boards, shoe shine, and shirts with buttons cycled in and out of your life. You may not be quite ready to embrace these things again: you might be living in an area where special events and visits to the office still aren’t part of the picture. And even if you are living in an area where they are, you might not be mentally prepared to put on smart trousers yet. And fair enough. We’re here to help you ease into choosing clothes that look good and not just feel good – even if that means swapping sweatpants for loose-fitting chinos.

To help you get into the right headspace for this kind of talk, we’ve put together a guide for you to reference in the coming weeks, so you feel confident when heading to a local beer garden or a nearby park. And before you even think about whipping out the suit, remember it’s all about small steps – the kinds that happen to make you look really good. 

Shake your sweats 

We have a feeling you’ve been warming up to this for a while – there’s something about wearing sweats for the 14th day in a row that makes them lose their lustre, despite how comfortable they may be. The good news about style in this day and age is you don’t need to sacrifice comfort to look considered. All you need to do is look to styles with looser fits (see our “Dos and don’ts of oversized dressing”) and elevated pieces with comfortable details, like smart trousers with an elasticated waist. You also can’t underestimate the right fabrics – linens and cotton jerseys in particular are more lightweight and have a soft feel. 

Bring the joy back into dressing

Photographed: Boden Stripe T-Shirt ($42)

At its essence, style is about having fun – something many of us have forgotten over the last 12 months. Remember that a little colour and pattern can go a long way, especially if you’ve been living in grey, grey, and more grey (nothing like a lockdown to remind you how many shades there are). So weave it back into your wardrobe this spring. It’s a welcome addition to picnics and other outdoor gatherings and can be as simple as a colourful cap or pair of socks or as bold as a patterned shirt or lightweight jacket. 

Shop more colourful pieces

Get a little dressed up

Photographed: MVP Brushed Cotton Flannel Shirt ($48)

Even if you have nowhere smart to go, putting on a shirt and chinos or an unstructured blazer for a casual dinner outside can boost your confidence. You might even be surprised by how much you’ve missed putting on something more considered. And that way, once it’s time to put a suit back on for the first time in a few months, it won’t feel completely foreign. Like we said, it’s all about small steps. 

Step into fresh footwear

Ah slippers, the footwear that defined 2020 and more of 2021 than we were expecting. They’re still great indoors (and a way cleaner alternative than stomping around in trainers on your carpets). And while you're probably not ready for dress shoes yet, now's the time to step into something more sturdy and stylish. A fresh pair of trainers is a good place to start – those are great for picnics and walks with friends. And when you want to make an impression that hides the fact you’ve been wearing fur-lined shoes all year, wear a pair of boat shoes or casual loafers – they’ve still got slip-on appeal and look entirely appropriate dining al fresco. To shop even more styles, check out our "Five favourite footwear styles for spring."

Shop more spring footwear

Find new brands you love

One of the best ways to give your wardrobe a refresh after a not-so-stylish year is finding new brands you love. Even better if they’re an independent brand who you can show a little support to (we have a few we think you might love). They might help you push your style in exciting new directions and help you uncover something new about your personal style. 

Rediscover old favourites

Photographed: Levi's 511™ Slim Jeans ($95)

It can be tempting to buy an entirely new wardrobe when you’re itching for a fresh start, but we guarantee there are some items in your wardrobe that will feel like new after a bit of a hiatus. So reacquaint yourself with pieces from brands you already love – they’ll be a great way to balance things you already own with new styles. 

Words: Allison Pavlick
Illustration: Elliot Kruszynski