Lower necklines and split dresses are back, in a modest kind of ...

Lifestyle

Lower necklines and split dresses are back, in a modest kind of way

What we watch and Covid-19 have changed fashion’s obsession with modesty, but it’s still with us, just sexy

Charlie Gowans Eglington

Back in 2017, fashion fell in love with modesty. Thanks to the growing spending power of the Middle Eastern consumer, designer brands began to realise how crucial it was that they offer clothes that cater for those who cover up for religious or cultural reasons. But retailers quickly realised that these clients were not the only ones buying.

My own culture and religion (or, rather, lack of religion) doesn’t dictate what I wear, but I loved the new maxi dresses, full skirts and puffed sleeves. Suddenly, designs that had been difficult to find — dresses with long sleeves, occasion-wear that fell to the ankle, party dresses with high necklines — were all readily available. This wasn’t a niche market — modest dresses became best-sellers. 

Unlike flash-in-the-pan fashion trends, this wasn’t a “moment”, but part of a wider shift. Consumers wanted — as proved by sales figures and the repeating of silhouettes the next season — clothes that didn’t cling, pinch or ride up. We wanted ease and comfort, though not at the cost of style. We wanted dresses that worked for every occasion and didn’t make us feel overdressed in the supermarket or on the school run. ..

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