Fashion and Beauty of the Pandemic: How COVID-19 Changed the Way We Dress

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The COVID-19 changed many aspects of life. It changed how we work, how we learn, how we interact with one another, how we work out, how we shop, and how we dressed. A year of lockdown has made fashion lose a little relevance. Because people were not going out, there was no need to buy new shirts, dresses, bags, or shoes. As a result, many clothing companies had to scramble to release a new collection that featured pieces that people will actually wear. The only way for brands to survive is to adapt to the needs of consumers right now. The rest went bankrupt.

The fashion from the past year and the trends of 2021 are a reflection of people’s experiences during the pandemic. Here are the ways that COVID-19 changed beauty and fashion.

Fashionable Face Coverings

Masks became must-haves in 2020. When it became clear that the spreading virus is airborne, public health experts recommended the use of masks in order to prevent the further spread of the virus and protect people from catching it.

People wore masks everywhere they went. They wore masks in grocery stores and drug stores, at coffee shops and in restaurants, and in school and work.

While the regular surgical mask and the more secure N95 were plain and bland, people got creative with their reusable face coverings. Many celebrities chose reusable scarves and cloth masks that have funky prints, bold colors, and, sometimes, sequins to match their outfits of the day. As the pandemic stretched longer than anyone anticipated, fashionable face coverings, including neck gaiters, appeared online.

Masks have definitely become the fashion staple of the pandemic and people have used face coverings as an accessory.

Back to Basics

The pandemic also created a recession, one of the worst in recent decades, which led to millions of people losing their jobs. For many, money was tight and buying trendy pieces was pointless. Stores struggled to push seasonal pieces to home-bound consumers who worry about job security and income. But evergreen pieces, or those that never go out of style, went flying out of shelves.

As more consumers rely on stimulus checks, many will hold on to their money and use it only for necessities. Products that will go out of style will look wasteful. People will go for pieces that they can keep and use for a long, long time.

Neutrals were also the “hot” colors last year. For the summer of 2021, monochromatic neutral tones will dominate, according to the L’Officiel.

Neutrals are timeless. They can be worn with any other pieces or color on your wardrobe. When worn correctly, it can look quite sophisticated, too, instead of boring.

Already, boys and girls in fashion have been spotted wearing head-to-toe neutrals.

Longer Lashes


Because of masks, there was less need for statement lipsticks or flirty blushes. With half of the face obscured by a piece of cloth, people focused on one feature that can still be seen: the eyes. Big, bold eyelashes were back in a major way.

According to a report by the market research firm NPD Group, the sales of false eyelashes increased 15-fold week-per-week in May 2020. Meanwhile, mascara sales went up by 11% during the same period last year.

Sales of eye products are up overall but, for lipstick, demand fell down. This was expected considering that the mouth is obscured by masks and the only way to express emotions and style was through the eyes.

Activewear Grows Stronger Than Ever

When gyms closed, more people actually became physically active as a way to boost health and to shed Quarantine 15 — weight gained during the lockdowns. Exercise also became more accessible as fitness coaches and instructors went online and offered their classes to more people. Others purchased their own exercise equipment to workout at home.

While clothing sales went down for most brands, stores that specialize in activewear saw increased demands. The most dominant brands in the past year are Nike, Lululemon, and Gap’s Athleta. All three reported stronger sales during the pandemic.

Experts believe that the pandemic will blur the line between activewear, sportswear, and casual wear. More brands will also enter the market, including Louis Vuitton and Levi’s. Both brands have rolled out their own lines of active apparel in the past couple of months.

As populations reach herd immunity, restrictions will one by one be lifted. Life will go back to how it used to. However, some things will remain the same. It will be interesting to see which of these fashion and beauty trends, which has been influenced heavily by pandemic lifestyle, will stick around.

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