Dressing to impress? Why comfort is the new luxury


You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses when you’re not allowed to invite them round. (Or go round to theirs.) There has been a tiny glimmer of an upside to this, I think. For a whole year, fashion has not been about impressing anyone.

Which is good, because the impressing-other-people thing had got out of hand. A year ago, luxury had become an abstract concept in the fashion industry. Luxury fashion was basic T-shirts with eye-catching logos and price tags to match. Bag charms – trinkets to be hung off a handbag like baubles from a Christmas tree – were “must-have luxury pieces”. I think this was called conceptual luxury. Or was it imaginary luxury? I forget. It seems a long time ago.

The past year has reminded us that luxury is about feeling good, not about showing off. It can be a knitted slipper boot rather than a stiletto heel. Sweaters in fabrics that feel nice against our skin have made us happy, not sweaters from brands that feel swanky to own. What started last March with a run on tracksuit bottoms has developed into the chance to figure out which clothes we actually like wearing when there’s no one around to impress. We are all loungewear connoisseurs, now.

Comfort is the new luxury. Don’t get me wrong: I am deliriously excited about excuses to get dressed up again, and I fully intend to channel Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek at the first opportunity to go out for pizza. But I have also come to really appreciate the joy in comfort, so I expect by the end of the night – by which I mean 10pm, since I will no doubt be a complete lightweight – I’ll be just as excited to get back into pyjamas.

The jacket I’m wearing here came from Cos about five years ago. It’s a cardigan that thinks it’s a blazer: a soft layer that has been cut to look as if it has edges. This is the sort of thing I am going to want to wear more of, rather than my more demanding clothes. Party nights aside, clothes that feel nice are the new clothes that look nice. Like Zoom yoga, they are a habit we have embraced while no one has been watching – and that could be worth bringing with us, on the other side.

Jess wears blue cami, £65, by Modern Rarity from johnlewis.com, burnt orange trousers, £25, marksandspencer.com. Cardigan and shoes, Jess’s own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Oribe and Tom Ford Beauty. Stylist’s assistant: Peter Bevan.