Dresses Are Back

It’s official. Dresses are back as the newest recovery classification as consumers look to embrace celebratory dressing. In the midst of the Spring/Summer 2022 fashion weeks, it’s become clear that designers are ramping up dress assortments in a major way, providing both optimism and a new sense of expression that’s in stark contrast to pandemic-era sweats. No matter what the occasion, there’s a dress for it and more often than not it’s sexy. Together, we’ll explore how we got here, what the trending styles are and how social media is driving newness.

From casual to occasion

We’ve come a long way since sweatpants. Over the last 18 months, consumers have grown accustomed to “pandemic-proof” wardrobes, which consist of everyday loungewear and basics. The comeback of social gatherings will continue to give consumers a reason to buy, whether it’s for special occasions, travel or more-formal events. And while many of us are eager to dress up again, it doesn’t mean the end of casual dressing entirely. It simply signals the demand for consumers to tap into the joy of dressing up more. In fact, one of the best examples to bridge the gap from casual to occasion wear is with knit column dresses that cling to the body—a noteworthy shift away from oversized sweats.

All the party dresses

What makes the dress classification so appealing right now is the comeback of occasions that provide opportunities to dress up. In fact, the tendency to “go all out” is something that’s fully embraced because for such a long time there really wasn’t a reason to wear a dress. In the height of the pandemic, retailers canceled dress orders, but now they’re heavily investing back in the category and, in particular, party dresses.

Party dresses are undoubtedly most exciting, fueled predominantly by mini hemlines and a variety of new, sexy details. The major shift comes in fitted bodycon silhouettes—think Dua Lipa, not the bandage styles of the past. At London Fashion Week, emerging designers Nensi Dojaka and Supriya Lele both keyed into mini dresses that are sure to drive business. Ruched details and sheer mesh fabrics are often leveraged for a second-skin look, and new interpretations of the LBD are on our radar.

Another major must-have that’s all over the Spring ’22 runways is the cutout dress, which draws attention to new erogenous zones. Cutouts placed around the clavicle, torso or back add that extra flash of skin that defines sexiness in this moment. In addition, halter necklines also make for a flattering comeback.

But what’s a party dress without a little sparkle? Designers turn up the glamour for Spring, ranging from sequins and jewel-encrusted looks to feathers and fringe. Whether full-on embellishment or in solid hues, party dresses encompass many style varieties, intended to be worn by any and everyone. And while there’s a lot of exposed skin involved, this new brand of sexy is all about empowering the wearer to feel confident in her own skin.

TikTok dresses

While notoriously known for its video challenges, TikTok has become a place to discover fashion and the next “it” items. For example, the #napdress emerged on the social-media platform in 2020 amid pandemic lockdowns, tapping into #regencycore and offering a nightgown-like style appropriate for home. Needless to say, things shifted this summer with a number of TikTok dresses going viral with the Gen Z crowd. The younger market is especially set on dressing up again, with recent favorites including the Skims slip dress and Y2K bodycon dresses. With more reasons to dress up, TikTok will be important for keeping a pulse on new dress styles.

While revealing silhouettes encompass a newer direction in dresses that isn’t to say that fluid styles will go away. Rather, when we take a step back and look at what’s happening culturally, it just makes sense that we’re embarking on a new era of showing off with statement party dresses. After all, a flash of skin has the potential to be incredibly empowering, and that’s exactly what makes fashion so thrilling.

About Fashion Snoops: FS is a global trend forecasting agency helping consumer-facing brands around the world unlock innovation and propel growth. Through a combination of human and artificial intelligence, we analyze cultural shifts and interpret detected patterns in order to surface trend-driven business opportunities. Learn more at www.fashionsnoops.com.