We’re All Living In Tracksuits? Leather, lace, and latex are here to set pulses racing in what’s possibly been the least sexy year of the decade…The sexy fashion dress code
What was your 2020 mood? Terrified? Confused? Bored? Hungry? %*&# this? Perhaps it’s all of the above, all at once. Good times. What it probably wasn’t, however, is sexy. Elasticated waistbands, stockpiling loo roll, and the ever-present white noise of existential dread are hardly conducive to a ‘come hither’ mood after all.
This seems, then, like the most unlikely time for sexy dressing to make a comeback. Gloves and masks aren’t fetish gear anymore, they’re government-mandated health and safety essentials and if your pulse is racing you’re probably wondering if that is a symptom. But it’s 2021, people, and anything is possible. So, here we are: sexy is back on the fashion menu. And not stealthy, understated, ‘oh you can be alluring in a baggy shirt and jeans’ sexy but full throttle, throw down, obvious sexy.
I’m talking about the unmissable frisson of dominatrix naughtiness found on Zara’s sell-out harness belts, the corsets seen at Dion Lee, Richard Quinn, and David Koma, and the boudoir lace at Christopher Kane and Dolce & Gabbana. I’m directing you to look at the luscious leather seen at Alexander McQueen and Valentino (a black leather thigh-slit bustier dress and matching coat is deliciously seductive and ladylike) and the curvaceous cut-outs at Brandon Maxwell, Khaite, and Jacquemus. And while I don’t know who the woman is (actually, I do, it’s the Kardashians) talc-ing herself up to get into Saint Laurent and Balmain’s skintight latex, I salute her.
But why sexy? Why now? I’d wager it’s all about fantasy – and connection. Look back to the first lockdown and consider how Tinder reported its busiest day to date, and how thirsty the nation went for a simple silver chain. If you were living with a partner, separating work and play required a deliberate effort (‘Where’s my hand sanitizer?’ and ‘Did you finish the banana bread?’ make for truly lame pillow talk). If you were living alone, then the possibility of screentime ‘socializing’ perhaps reached a whole new level of enticing – although Lily Allen has done her bit recently to remind us that solo fun is also possible. Sex is on our minds because to connect to our sexuality is to connect to our vitality.
When it comes to our clothes, leaning into the joys of unapologetically sexy dressing provides some respite from the humdrum of real life right now. ‘Sexy pieces are having a moment precisely because this is the unsexiest of times,’ says Olivia von Halle, queen of silk sleepwear (or I-intend-on-getting-no-sleep wear, if you prefer). ‘With the prospect of being confined, yet again, to our homes, escapism in any form is key. Slipping into a silk slip dress or a louche lounging pajama will at least make you feel as though you could be at your favorite haunt, with a G&T in hand and no idea where the night might take you.
So, no, there’s not really anywhere to wear a wiggle-worthy LBD or pair of spiky heels right now, but who cares? ‘We think people are just desperate for a little fun, so why not start with your wardrobe?,’ says De La Vali’s Jana Haveman and Laura Castro, who’s noticed their red-hot sequin pieces selling well.
During the first lockdown, Hunza G’s creative director and co-founder Georgiana Huddart noticed ‘Instagram was filled with people working out how to get the same level of excitement and joy that they would in their normal pre-pandemic life’. She found herself making more effort as result, ‘wearing my best, matching underwear set, underneath my tracksuit bottoms while working from home. I made sure I did the same makeup routine every morning (having been someone who hasn’t really worn makeup for years). It gave me a real sense of my day beginning and that I wasn’t turning into a house slug. As superficial as these little things may seem, everyone had their own version of it. Often wearing a bikini top around the house with jeans- my boyfriend would remark on how ‘hot’ my outfit was. In a world that currently is feeling quite joyless, it’s important to get your kicks somehow.’
I’m with her; I took to wearing stockings and lace lingerie for a hot minute in the first lockdown, and a little too low, little black dress just because. It made me feel like I hadn’t totally given up on myself. And when I did feel like that? Christopher Kane’s SEX T-shirt was my tongue-in-cheek, lazy girl take on the trend.
If your tastes are more M&S than S&M, however, there is still a way to work sexy into your lockdown 2.0 – or should that be 3.0? – look. Consider the revival of the visible thong. A cheeky peep of a G-string riding out of your track pants is one way to add some slap-and-tickle to your elasticated waistbands this time around. Or how about those knitted bras that are continuing to do the rounds? No restrictive underwear is required to pull these off, but they are infinitely racier than that sloppy sweater we have noticed you’ve been wearing on repeat for the past few months.
So go forth, enjoy, be sexy – but remember the golden rule: don’t forget to wash your hands.
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