While statement earrings were a big seller during the first phase of lockdown, Veals says blouses with pointed or oversized collars are spring’s key piece, worn with long skirts or relaxed pants. She says layering is key: power blouses are worn over cardigans (as opposed to under jackets) to make the collar a feature.
Stylist Sally Mackinnon says the power blouse can be challenging. “Everything is so exaggerated – the fill, the neckline – it can create this ‘gridiron’ style breadth across the shoulders.”
Still, a gorgeous silhouette can be achieved with a little balance. “It’s best to wear something more streamlined on the lower body. So maybe not a pair of trackpants,” says Mackinnon. “It’s all about tucking in, showing off the waist, creating an hourglass silhouette – a skinny jean, wide jean, A-line skirt – show some shape through the waist or you may look very square.”
So does this suggest our sweats obsession is over? Not entirely, says Veals.
“The longer that COVID-19 has gone on, people are dressing more appropriately for Zoom,” Veals says. “It’s not the casual, ‘I am working from home’ [look], it’s, ‘This is my job from home [long term.'”
General manager of menswear, Chris Wilson, agrees that summer workwear is undergoing a major shift but the elevated polo and chino or chino short will be the work uniform for summer, especially in Melbourne, where working from home is likely to endure for many well into 2021.
And, giving another Zoom-friendly nudge to men, Wilson says it’s the season to embrace colour, especially in the lilac/spearmint/sky blue family.
“Gone are the days of your traditional hues of black, blue, white and grey [in menswear],” he says.
Wilson says “trans-formal” wear will also be a big trend as men look for pieces that are suitable for both work and going out when the need for a full-blown tuxedo or formal suit is possibly still a while off.
Still, sales data in states that have opened up is showing that when people are allowed out, they are dressing up more than before the pandemic. Veals is confident of a similar bounce back in Victoria when the state eventually lifts its harsh restrictions on social gatherings.
“Western Australia is performing over and above double-digit growth,” she says. “It’s a country divided with fashion. Sales in Victoria .. are still very good [online, but] you can’t make up for the stores being shut.”
Under Victoria’s current plan to ease restrictions, fashion retail will remain shut until either October 26 or when the daily two-week average is fewer than five new cases of COVID-19.
Accessories though have proven something of a recession-proof item, with bag sales, particularly in the luxury brands, selling strongly through the pandemic.
“With people not travelling [overseas], they are investing in luxury bags and fine jewellery,” Veals says.
In another COVID-friendly move, David Jones is offering free virtual tours of its annual flower show, which opens on Tuesday, via its website.
Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.