Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 02/12/19 4:35 PM

Feature: Is Comfortwear All About Slouchy Elegance?

Cozycore’s Formula of Comfortwear


With cozycore officially anointed as trend of the season, where does that leave the woman on the street?

They tell me cozycore is having a moment now. Of course, this less-than-stylish meld of comfortwear and style has been spotted on celebs everywhere for at least three years now. Think track pants and not all of them Lululemon or Juicy C; keds and not all of them Converse or Yeezy; your basic designer hoodie that conceals more than it reveals, in elephant gray. All of this has been out and about but has only just been given a formal nod as aesthetic of the season.

Photo: Gigihadid\Instagram

American model Gigi Hadid.

Me, I’m thinking local, and I blame it fair and square on the paparazzi. I mean, Malaika (Arora), Kareena (Kapoor), Sonam (Kapoor Ahuja) and co., were by now quite used to having their stylist on speed dial each time they took a flight to Paris, Milan, or a B or C town in the hinterlands of des.

What they were possibly tiring of was consulting said stylist each time they wanted to exit the gym or take their pet pooch out for a walk.

It was time to take back the street as it were and so they did, buoyed by the unassailable knowledge that they could appear in sackcloth—well, at least for a few times and still commandeer attention and admiration.

Photo: Sonamkapoor\Instagram

Photograph of actor Sonam Kapoor on her official Instagram page.

So you got these sylph-like A-listers walking abroad in carefully constructed careless looks, in tracks that looked like you could drown in them even as they appeared to contour the right curves beautifully, in seemingly shapeless jackets that nonetheless were by Moncler. Throw in the latest It bag, a classic Hermès scarf thrown carelessly about the shoulders, and voila, tres chic.

As always, no one asked us about this trend. No one thought for a minute that much of this fashion whimsy would be lost in translation when we, the certified aam janta citizens, started to sport this cozycore phenom.

Freedom of Form?  

Loose-fitting isn’t always form-flattering. Can you be dainty or dapper in cozycore? Think cozycore and what are the immediate image connects? Portly. Roomy. Free-form. Generous. Witty. Bulky. Fattening.

There really is no getting away from it: All too often, cozycore only serves to sharply define our general bagginess or throws into unnecessary emphasis our proclivity for wearing shapeless, loose-fitting clothes.

Then there`s that old dichotomy, the priceline problem. If you pay top dollar for carefully crafted cozycore clothes, you end up looking just like well, a zillion of those (top) dollars.

That’s all very well but many of us turn to ye olde jugaad shop and buy what we think are cozycore clothes at amazing-read bottom dollar-prices.

Initially, we look good and feel good, then a couple of wears down, the shape gives out and there we are doing our nth imitation of Mrs Chawla walking her ‘Pomeranian’ down the street, without the mandatory poop bag.

Here’s the thing. Some trends are downright tricky to emulate. Not everyone could really carry off normcore, despite some earnest attempts. Most of us (aam janta, remember?) just looked like we were dressing down or eschewing fashion for casual gear.

However, many who adopted the athleisure mode did so with much more success, thanks be.

Where comfortwear is concerned, the concept invariably seems to align itself with slouchy chic. Despite all the groundwork laid long ago for cozycore by the likes of Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, and the big-on-origami brands, the signal characteristics of this trajectory are invariably oversized, deconstructed, anti-fit wear.

Extreme body-con stuff, alarmingly sizeist stuff, all that’s going, going, gone but in its place has entered clothes a good two sizes larger. And that’s a good thing? I’m not too convinced.

A description of Cozycore is usually prefixed by the adjective ‘interesting’. And I say beware that word used in conjunction with the latest trend. It’s a backhanded compliment. An interesting texture, cut, silhouette invariably mean almost outlandish, something of an acquired taste.

The Cult of Streetwear Cool

However, as streetwear aesthetics take over couture, one billowing item after another, this cozycore trend is one that I predict will last almost forever.

Think about it: You can ditch the sky-high stilettoes, the oversized platforms, those crop tops, which you know expose your belly (the blunt, honest word is quite the best fit here) to unflattering effect, those jeggings that reveal every damned dimpled cellulite hotspot.

You can breathe easy, move easy in these clothes. Your blood vessels won’t constrict. You can dress for comfort and comfort only, and be considered on trend. And yes, you can be one of the guys, if that’s what you want.

There’s an element of boho chic to it undoubtedly. And it endows a mantle of supreme self-confidence upon the wearer. Also, some people (admittedly very, very few) can carry the look off with admirable elan.

Only, to my mind, cozycore is a repudiation of the figure, the femininity, the  body.

And here’s an actual if not fun fact: Cozycore calls for just as much hard work to pull the look together as any other trend.

And so, before we pull on our fluffy (some of it could be pilling!) sweaters, (stocky) boyfriend shirts, mom-after-three-kids jeans, and end up presenting a downright sloppy look, stop.

I gotta break it to you: what looks good on Deepika will not necessarily look good on you. Consider that, just like the I-wake-up-like-this selfie with its artfully artless no-makeup makeup, you need to give cozycore some careful thought and planning.

While we can and should embrace comfort, there really is no harm in looking good in that very comfortwear. It calls for  exercising choice. On the colours, textures and silhouettes that flatter your body shape. Mixing in some form-fits with loose outfits.

Actually, now that I think of it, I don’t blame the paps. They’ve done us a good turn. Can embracing comfort ever be a bad move?

Also, let’s face it, when we are out wearing our cozycore swag, (now there’s a contradiction in terms!) no paps are going to trail us. We are just going to look slouchy, not chic.

And when the friendly neighbourhood auntie asks if we have been ill, seeing that we have lost so much weight, or if we are wearing someone else’s clothes, just be ready with a capsule explanation of cozycore. In words of one syllable.

In the banner (L-R): Instagram posts by actor Anushka Sharma, singer-songwriter Rihanna and actor Deepika Padukone for representational purpose only.

This appeared in THE VOICE OF FASHION of 12 Feb 2019.

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anti-fitcomfortwearcozycorecozynormDeepika PadukoneFeatureform-freeKareena KapoorMalaika AroranormcoreSheila Kumarslouchy chicstreetwearThe Voice of Fashion

Sheila Kumar • February 12, 2019

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