The Viral Fashion Trends Of 2020 Had One Thing In Common

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This year was all about being comfortable. The most ubiquitous fashion trends of 2020 were comfortable, and not simply in the non-itchy-fabric, non-hard-to-breathe-in way. Where in 2019, the most popular items included Bottega Veneta clutches and heavy gold accessories, this year saw items such as Nap Dresses and Entireworld sweatsuits earning “It” status. The trends spoke to a collective need to feel at ease, whether that was while working from home, homeschooling your kids, or relaxing during off-hours from your essential job. And while brands that already specialized in comfy wear had a chance to shine, designers that usually offer more structure also rose to the occasion — bringing joy, even in uniquely challenging circumstances.

In case you haven’t yet purchased a jacket that’s basically a quilt or silk pajamas to replace the oversize tee you wear to bed, there are still plenty of ways to try out the cozy pieces that defined 2020. Ahead, a recap of the trends, the brands that made them famous, and a peek at the hype that surrounded them. Plus, of course, an opportunity to shop them for yourself.

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2020 Viral Cozy Trend: The Nap Dress

The most ardent fans of The Nap Dress — a term that’s been trademarked by Hill House Home — will know that the style dates back to before 2020. And yet, its surge in popularity this year, among uncertain work schedules and extended time at home, felt fitting. Instagram filled with images and publications from The New Yorker to Wall Street Journal were invested in dissecting the power of a dress that’s not quite sleepwear, not quite occasion wear.

However the Victorian-style aesthetic — or “Victorian ghost”-style as Hill House Home founder Nell Diamond has referred to it – isn’t new and therefore the trend has taken off beyond a singular brand. The style that maybe is, maybe isn’t intended for a mid-day nap (It’s 2020, who’s to judge?) can be accomplished with classic nightgowns (even vintage-sourced) or flow-y dresses that are softly structured and feature subtle details such as smocking or embroidery.

2020 Viral Cozy Trend: The Charmingly Shapeless Sweatsuit

The silhouette is far from body con, yet not quite Vetement's brand of oversize or abstract like Comme des Garçons. Instead, a defining shape of the year is baggy and non gender-specific sweats, with matching separates that basically epitomize effortless styling. Champion maybe dominated this silhouette in the 20th century, but Entireworld gave the iconic brand some competition in 2020.

Created by Scott Sternberg, former designer of the now defunct Band of Outsiders, Entireworld’s brand of basics, including its collection of colorful sweatsuits, was launched to a new level of celebrity when stay-at-home orders commenced. To quantify it, in a highly circulated New York Times feature, the brand shared its business boomed 662 percent in March from the same month the previous year. Like The Nap Dress however, it’s not Entireworld specifically that’s dominated the look — although it does have major following among celebrities and influencers. You can also get the look from small businesses and sustainable labels who are interpreting the outfit with unique color palettes and patterns.

2020 Viral Cozy Trend: The Silky Set

In 2018, TZR confirmed that sleepwear during the day time was going to be an enduring theme in fashion. Of course, no one had any idea how much that'd be true. The already industry-loved brand Sleeper remained a popular choice in fancy, silk sets, as spotted on social media while more folks worked from home. But the options on the market are plentiful, including brand Prayers and Plans and a recent playful Lisa Says Gah! collaboration with Katherine Plumb. They each provide a luxurious middle ground for those who don't want to be stuck in lackluster sleepwear from morning until night, and those who feel inspired to embody glamour despite the lack of obvious occasions to do so.

2020 Viral Cozy Trend: Bedding As Clothing

The pillow dress might have taken things too far, but there’s something to be said for the bedding-as-clothing trend beyond a viral social media moment. For instance, take a look at sustainable bedding company Buffy who just released a collaboration collection with Madewell this fall. The styles feature Primaloft Insulation, a down alternative made of recycled materials, that pads outerwear and accessories. Similarly, there’s the popularity of brands such as Offhours, a young direct-to-consumer line whose hero item — a housecoat that’s like wearing a comforter — sold out three times this fall.

It’s also worth noting that the bedding trend would have likely reached peak popularity this year regardless of stay-at-home orders. The patchwork trend was seen in several Fall/Winter 2020 collections, including Bode and Marni, which presented early in the year. There’s charm and uniqueness in old-work quiliting. It just so happens it also makes for garments that are easy to curl up in.

2020 Viral Cozy Trend: The Ribbed Knit Set

The coordinating set has always been seen as a solution for outfits that are low-effort chic. Naturally, that approach spoke to the hearts of many fashion lovers over the past year. A specific style that was spotted over and over again was texturally rich ribbed sets, particularly with a skirt-and-top combination.

It’s a 60-second outfit that looks impressive and creative, without having to expend any actual creative energy. For this reason, it’ll probably be sticking around for a bit, be it in basic collections from mass fashion brands, to independant designers, to luxury labels.

2020 Viral Cozy Trend: The Kaftan

Kaftans date back to the 14th century, originating in Middle Eastern and North African cultures, and then saw several high-fashion transformations in the mid-20th century. Therefore it feels like a stretch to call it a trend, but it’s worth calling out that the silhouette felt particularly relevant this year as they were an extension of the general 2020 lounge theme.

Expectedly, the garment was popular over the summer when folks stepped out a bit more, but still looked for comfortable dressing solutions. The look was championed by influencers such as Kelly Augustine and Gabi Gregg, and is signature to brands including Lemlem and Sidia, which recently launched this fall with a line of luxe, unrestrained styles.