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Cover story

Fresh Take


Hannah Motler

When it comes to loungewear, many of us have become style experts in cozy casuals that suit our WFH routine. But now it’s time to step up our game, British model HANNAH MOTLER shows off the new-season investment pieces that will add a touch of insouciant chic to springtime dressing – as LAURA HAWKINS explains why comfort, luxury and color are key

Photography Juliette CassidyStyling Maya Zepinic
Cover Stories
This image: hoodie, Gucci; hat, Maison Michel. Opening image: beige tank top, Totême; white tank top (just seen), Wardrobe.NYC; hat, Jacquemus; earrings, Jennifer Fisher

Loungewear, sportswear, sleepwear, repeat: sound like a familiar style rut? With indoors-focused living stretched to such lengths, it’s been tricky not to simply slouch around in sweatpants and hibernate in hoodies. Perhaps, at moments, you’ve flirted with the flair of your former closet, flaunting attention-grabbing earrings at a (digital) get-together, or showing off a stiletto and sparkly blouse for a dinner date. But we’d hazard a guess that it wasn’t long before you felt the lure of your loungewear and swapped your out-out ensembles for clothing in cozy cashmere and warming folds of wool.

There have been suggestions that when we all emerge from the restrictions of lockdown, we’ll dress with the utmost decadence, strutting in sequins and sparkle, and peacocking in plumed partywear. But before you press ‘go’ on all-out glam, we suggest shrugging off those style cobwebs in stages. Dip your toe back into reality while holding on to what you learned about dressing during your downtime: comfort has clout, investment pieces trump trends and luxurious basics provide the building blocks to a winning wardrobe.

Hoodie, jeans, and sneakers, all Gucci; hat, Maison Michel

Firstly, look to fail-safe springtime materials, like lightweight denim, cotton-poplin and soft jersey; all fabrics we’ve become increasingly familiar with over the past year. Next, consider effortless, androgynous silhouettes that bring insouciant chic to the new season. Then opt for serotonin-boosting hues, rich colors that will complement your lunch with a friend and paintbox brights for bringing a smile not just to you, but a passer-by, too.

“Comfort has clout, INVESTMENT pieces trump trends and LUXURIOUS basics provide the building blocks to a WINNING wardrobe”

Denim jacket, Maison Margiela; shirt, Frame; earrings, Jennifer Fisher; pants (just seen), Sporty & Rich
Denim jacket, Maison Margiela; shirt, Frame; pants, Sporty & Rich; sneakers, Golden Goose; earrings, Jennifer Fisher; socks, stylist’s own

For spring, brands including Gucci and Paco Rabanne have taken solace in eras of free-spirited style, like the sun-bleached bohemia of the ’60s and ’70s. Gucci’s runway jeans have a faded vintage appeal with an elongating high-rise and flared fit – there’s something mood-boosting about their unrestrained silhouette. The Florentine label’s knitwear and sportswear are also uplifting, imagined in sleeveless retro shapes and slouchy hooded styles; comforting in soft mohair and organic cotton-jersey, yet instantly covetable. The tie-dye pieces in Paco Rabanne’s Lose Yourself capsule collection also hint at high-end zen. Bucket hats, T-shirts and hoodies appear immediately escapist, their blue and white tones evoking sunbeams reflected in a swimming pool.

Sports jacket and shirt (just seen), both Balenciaga; sneakers, Adidas Originals; shorts, Alaïa; socks, stylist’s own

Another sartorial learning we’ve taken from lockdown is that a slowed-down pace allows us time to pay attention to details, which we were previously too busy to see. Use spring as a time to show off these style findings and showcase pared-back, perfectly finished pieces that will never lose their allure. The Row’s French terry-cloth polo top is timeless and sumptuous in an ivory hue, Loewe’s ribbed-knit sweater has voluminous sleeves and a luxuriously tactile debossed leather detail, while Dion Lee’s cotton sweatshirt has a pleasingly undulating hem.

“Consider EFFORTLESS, androgynous silhouettes that BRING insouciant CHIC to the new season”

Blazer, Blazé Milano; shell jacket, Fendi + K-Way; boxer shorts and socks, both HommeGirls; hat, Jacquemus; sneakers, Gucci

One label bringing a boost to so-called ‘basics’ is Wardrobe.NYC. Launched in 2017, the brand is based on the concept of foundational wardrobe pieces that can transcend seasons and occasions. These include easy-to-layer ribbed tank tops, zip-detail stretch leggings and double-breasted coats. “Our customers are looking for quality and a great fit. They understand that investing in pieces that can be worn in a multitude of ways, time and time again, is the modern way of shopping and dressing,” says the brand’s Australian co-founder and stylist, Christine Centenera.

Just as barriers between work, school and the home have shifted, the codes and categories of our wardrobes have also become declassified. MM6 Maison Margiela’s executive pinstripe shirting can be paired with Sporty & Rich’s retro cotton-jersey track pants, and in an aristocratic-meets-active ensemble, Fendi + K-Way’s technical hooded jacket scores smart points when worn under Blazé Milano’s double-breasted houndstooth blazer.

Polo shirt, The Row; shorts, HommeGirls; hat, Maison Michel; tank top (just seen), Totême; earrings, Bottega Veneta

Milanese label Blazé Milano celebrates the enduring elegance of the tailored blazer and the female style icons who have championed it, including Bianca Jagger, Lauren Bacall and Diana, Princess of Wales. “Diana’s sporty looks have been very inspiring in recent times,” say the brand’s founders Corrada Rodriguez D’Acri, Delfina Pinardi and Maria Sole Torlonia of the style icon’s famed ’80s ensembles. “For spring, keep Diana’s post-workout look in mind: a blazer, an old-school sweatshirt, blue jeans, a baseball cap.”

Tank top, Gucci; track pants (just seen), Sporty & Rich

“Use SPRING as a time to show off and SHOWCASE pared-back, perfectly finished pieces that will never lose their ALLURE”

The megawatt mood of the ’80s was also a spirit that inspired designers for spring. Take Isabel Marant, who paired shiny track pants with asymmetric party tops in punchy prismatic hues. The French brand’s mauve retro logo sweater has a sporty-sleek synergy. “I wanted this explosion of energy, of colors, of movement. I had in mind this girl who is liberating herself,” Marant explains. “The collection translates into silhouettes that reflect a need for freedom, with a display of fuchsia, red, blue and silver.” Elsewhere, Balenciaga favored oversized shell-suit jackets with contrasting yoke details. There’s a borrowed-from-your-boyfriend mood to the silhouette, which semaphores self-assurance and poise.

Sweatshirt, Isabel Marant Étoile; jeans, Agolde; shirt, and socks, both HommeGirls; sneakers, Golden Goose

“A luminous COMPLEXION shows a SHIFT in gear towards stress-free, SOPHISTICATED style”

Sweathsirt, Dion Lee; hat, Paco Rabanne; earrings, Bottega Veneta; track pants (just seen), Jil Sander

An effortless yet utterly luxurious approach to dressing also calls for a similar approach to skincare. A luminous complexion shows a shift in gear towards stress-free, sophisticated style. One beauty specialist who knows good glow is German dermatologist Dr. Barbara Sturm. “Our skin is always in flux – stress, sleep, nutrition, exposure to environmental irritants including HEV [high-energy visible] light from digital screens, and diet have an enormous effect on the daily health and appearance of our skin,” she explains. “How your skin is now, and how it will be when lockdown ends, depends a great deal on the prevention and protection measures you take now to address your skin health.”

For springtime shine, Sturm recommends a range of nourishing and detoxifying products. “My Glow Drops are a healthy makeup alternative – a skin-perfecting serum containing a blend of botanical extracts to transform tired, dull skin into glowing skin,” she says. “The Good C Vitamin C serum also provides anti-oxidative protection, improves skin tone, boosts hydration and adds luminosity.”

Polo shirt, Roksanda; white top (worn underneath), Frances de Lourdes; shorts, Nili Lotan; sneakers, Converse; earrings, Bottega Veneta; socks, stylist’s own

There is the saying, ‘Out with the old and in with the new’. But moving into this spring awakening actually requires us to cherish the lessons of the recent past. This season, confidence comes in comfort, subtle luxury and an exuberant sense of color. If the Roaring Twenties of a century ago are synonymous with a deafening din of drama, dazzle and flapper-era flamboyance, 2021 has a softer and more serene sense of sound. Forget your fashion funk and embrace your style slam dunk.