They were around before - since 2016 you've increasingly seen them in the shops, on the bus, these Women in Dresses. The trend for historically-inspired prarie-ish dresses (extravagant of sleeve and high of collar) has stoutly refused to die.
It was generally attributed to the Kardashians - apparently they put us off tits and arse. But it was actually a portent of doom: fashion was preparing us for 2020.
The Hemline Index suggests that the shorter the skirts in Vogue, the better the health of the economy - miniskirts practically vibrate with confidence. Nothing says 'global instability' like a 30-year-old woman in chintz ruffles from her chin to her ankles.
Sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening, baking: it's a tough sell for a generation of women who grew up on The Spice Girls. But I think, psychologically, selling us delightful little-girl Laura Ashley party dresses made transitioning to the domesticity and monotony of social distancing a little easier. Like so many things, a global pandemic can be made more appealing by the potential for a great outfit.
It's a far more attractive proposition to uneasily pace your home when you can hear voluminous skirts swinging; or to sit and look with melancholy out your window when flounces are arranged, prettily.
Oh, how they all online-shopped from March to May: outsized 'investment pieces', by small slow-fashion businesses.
Now, the Women in Dresses will see their dresses as a kind of national service: simply going out and being seen will fill the mortals with such romantic nostalgia and optimism that some of them might even say thank you!
Women in Dresses is plausibly deniable LARPing (live action role-playing); it's cosplay, it's a rare subculture of women who spent the ages of 4-7 dressed as Princess Belle (but how they pined for her blue provincial apron, too) and/or ages 13-16 fixated on the pursuit of empire lines. But - it is quite nice to see all these women out in dresses, isn't it?
Sunday Indo Life Magazine