Post-Pandemic Dress Codes

Ascetic Athleisure, Extravagant Couture, or Curated Classic Tailoring?

Richard Thompson Ford
Published in
5 min readMar 26, 2021


Gabriella Clare Marino on Upsplash

As we look forward to emerging from over a year of forced hibernation, the fashion conscious and the fashion averse alike speculate about what we will wear once we get out and about. As one would expect in our troubled and polarized nation, two opposing camps have emerged, which I will style as the ascetics and the aesthetes.

The ascetics maintain that a year of virtuous isolation and productive remote work on Zoom will cure us, once and for all, of our vanity and our unhealthy addiction to wasteful and frivolous fashion. Society will embrace the simple virtues of practical, comfortable, functional clothing. We’ll stick to what we wore when no one other than our families, our roommates and our God could see us. We will never again tolerate cumbersome clothing, burdened with needless adornments. Dress codes will become a thing of the past. Tailors, dressmakers and fashion designers will go out of business, forced to turn to hardy honest labor plowing fields, whitewashing fences, driving for Door Dash or designing video games. In the end days, we will all wear some version of sweatpants, t-shirts or pajamas.

The aesthetes, by contrast, insist that twelve long months of social quarantine will leave us more anxious than ever before to see and be seen. Wearing our innermost fantasies and aspirations on our sleeves, we will be drawn to flamboyant, glamorous and decadent new fashions, a glorious sartorial excess the likes of which has not been seen since the court of Louis Quatorze. We will plunder history’s wardrobe for the most sumptuous and extravagant examples of conspicuous luxury and sensuous indulgence. Fashion designers will work overtime to outfit us for orgies of beauty, celebrations of bodily pleasure and earthlyvice. The dress code will be liberal but demanding: nothing verboten, nothing sacred but for the sake of all that’s bright and beautiful, take risks, put yourself out there, make an effort! Powdered wigs, Renaissance era doublets studded with precious gems, zoot suits, flapper fringe dresses, thigh boots, stiletto heels, animal prints, Spandex and lycra, Dapper Dan jackets covered with Mercedes symbols and interlocking Gucci “Gs” — all this and much more beckons us in what promises to be this…