Fashion & Beauty

Embracing Fashions

Two early examples of cocooning. Designers Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo and Maria Monaci Gallenga were inspired by Renaissance shapes as in these two evening capes from the 1920s. / Photo from Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s show “In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection.”

HOW DO you spell security, protection and comfort—during a pandemic? Wearing masks, mais oui, but also by swaddling in sweats and fleece-lined leggings and coddling inside big faux fur coats and oversize down puffers. That inclination to crave reassurance from clothing is expected to continue, perhaps with some small refinement, like adding an elegant blazer to top off a lounge-y ensemble. According to a December article in Forbes, Pinterest says that in the year ahead high fashion will show us ways to swathe our figures in layers of fabric, forecasting cocooning to be a major trend.

Over-the-top runway styles, such as (left) Patou designer Guillaume Henry’s poufy cocktail dress from his 2021 spring show and (right) Simone Rocha’s multi-layered taffeta cape dress.

The 2021 spring runway shows, which took place last September, bear that prediction out. At those virtual events, designers responded to the challenge of the pandemic moment. Simone Rocha, for one, showed a bulbous taffeta dress that recalled the cocoon silhouettes of Cristobal Balenciaga in the 1950s. The same curvy, enveloping shape was on Patou’s Guillaume Henry’s mind, whose spring runway featured cocktail pouf dresses with ballooning sleeves.

Keep in mind that fashions on the runway tend to over-exaggerate; by the time those clothes reach buyers, they’re considerably less extreme. Consider our embracing examples below—cozy sweatshirt dresses from Cos and MM6 Maison Margiela, a Norma Kamali shawl-collar coat, a Telfar cocoon coat, padded jackets, a voluminous shirt dress, barrel pants and more—for right now, into spring and beyond.

—Janet Kelly

LEFT: A gentle hug for the body, Cos’s Hoodie-Inspired Sweatshirt Dress ($115) has a rounded, cocoon shape with split side seams. Wear it over cropped leather pants or by itself whenever warmer weather comes along.

CENTER: Evening gowns don’t usually offer much buffer from the crowd, but that’s not so for St. John’s Hexagon Print Silk Caftan Gown ($2,795, Nordstrom). Shoulders are exposed, yes, but otherwise, it encases the body in an envelope of floor-length silk.

RIGHT: We’ve been hearing the death knell for skinny pants and jeans for a while now. Whether new, barrel shaped jeans and trousers stay popular, well, we’ll see. A cocoon-like fit and a user-friendly elastic waistband distinguish these wide-leg, all-cotton Pull-On Pants from Cos ($99). Wear with a slim top to balance the bottom half’s volume.

LEFT: When the outside world overwhelms, retreat into the silhouette of this Futuristic Hooded Padded Jacket ($160.65, Etsy for plus sizes). Experiment with this warm but lightweight, batwing jacket to transform it into your preferred look. Available in eight other more neutral colors, but we kind of love this ice blue.

RIGHT: This Talfar Cocoon Coat ($365, Universal Standard), made from an alpaca blend with a hidden zipper and extended ribbed sleeves for warmth, has a flattering high-low hem that looks best when worn with pants, according to satisfied owner, MyLittleBird’s Nancy McKeon. She adds that the best view of its cocoon shape is from the back.

LEFT: If I were fantasizing about what to wear to a party, I’d pick this Simone Rocha Flared Ruched Midi Skirt ($969, Farfetch) with its slight pouf and artful drape. And if I didn’t have any other bills to pay this month, I’d spring for it, along with the label’s cloud-like puff-sleeve T-shirt. (Different shoes, right?)

RIGHT: Norma Kamali’s oversized Shawl Collar Coat ($295, Revolve) is an invitation to cuddle. Cut from stretchy cotton jersey, this quilted coat has an appealingly warm look with an exaggerated shawl collar, bell sleeves and a curved hem. Interested? Wear the collar up as Kamali reportedly does.


LEFT: Unabashedly roomy, this Jumper Shirt Dress ($1,480, Farfetch) is quintessential Maison Margiela, a label known for its deconstructive take on fashion. The vest-shirt work combination is reimagined as a one-piece striped cotton shirtdress with an inset ribbed sweater vest.

RIGHT: DSquared2’s College Denim Dress ($615, Farfetch) also reinvents the classic shirtdress—with a boatneck on top, cocooning shape and generous slashed pockets.

LEFT: For spring, bigger is better. Case in point: MM6 Maison Margiela’s way oversized Contrasting Sleeves Denim Coat ($775, Farfetch).

RIGHT: Dress or sweatshirt? The creative MM6 Maison Margiela goes for both in this cotton jersey and fleece Layered Hoodie Dress ($630, Farfetch). Comfort never looked as good.

LEFT: Allergic to wool and cashmere, the Muguet Milan designer constructed this Quilted Reversible Padded Jacket ($229.90, Etsy) from linen with lots of space to layer a sweater and scarf underneath. But you can also stylishly wrap up indoors.

RIGHT: Long sleeves with puffed shoulders, wide legs and a soft knit fabric make Mango’s Belted Jumpsuit ($119.99) cozy and forgiving and one I could see myself snuggling into—by the fire at home or beneath a long coat for a walk in my neighborhood park.


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One thought on “Embracing Fashions

  1. Candy says:

    Balloon pants, what an unfortunate name. Yet I kinda like the way they look on that model. Just wish the jumpsuit trend would go away to die.

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