Newtopia: Smart Wardrobes

March 21, 2022

“Alexa, change my shirt.”

Some days, I wish it was that easy. A “smart” wardrobe would be the one that knows my style and what I have in my closet (and what’s clean), and finds the perfect shirt for the day ahead without me having to think about it too much.

An AI wardrobe assistant would be especially useful now. “Not only have there been less opportunities to dress up,” says Lo Styx at VeryWellMind, “the chronic stress of the last two years has made simple decision-making, like outfit planning, seem impossible at times.”

Well, I certainly feel called out. How about you?

Easy Meet DressyWhile the stress of the pandemic isn’t quite over yet, 2022 is shaping up to be the year of dopamine dressing — dressing in a way that boosts your mood. “Step outside your usual gear,” advises psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. “The novelty can enhance mood, lower stress and help you see things in a different light.”

In Newtopia there’s plenty of good old-fashioned human intelligence we can lean on to accomplish this. Here, the smart options are often the simplest ones — allowing room for easy and dressy to coexist in the same space, emphasizing utility and incorporating separates into smart, cohesive outfits.

Easy, Meet Dressy

One way this takes shape is through style and texture. We’ve all experienced the positive boost you get from feeling put together, and there’s a natural pleasure that comes from the satisfying touch of a subtly-textured fabric. The use of color – which we’ll be talking about next month – can be minimal, maximal or somewhere in between. The essential criterion here is simply that it feels good to you when you wear it.

Examples of this are not hard to find. Sustainable clothing maker Another Tomorrow blends simple color applications with refined styles and unique textures to create apparel “proportioned to flatter many forms…suited to the modern warrior and meant to be lasting wardrobe staples.”

Focus on UtilityAlong the same line, the new Mercer+Mettle line from SanMar has all the building blocks for “easy+dressy” outfits, featuring versatile pieces that can move easily from work to play and emphasize a mix-and-match sensibility that fits with any occasion or mood.

Focus on Utility

When you’re planning what to wear, one consideration that comes into play is what you’re going to be doing for the day. Just as a wrench is a poor substitute when you really need a hammer, the right outfit can make or break how prepared you are for the day ahead.

Swiss luxury brand Bally highlighted this aspect of fashion in their Spring/Summer 2022 collection, aptly entitled The Art of Utility. Taking inspiration from traditional workwear styles, the Bally collection emphasizes craftsmanship and freedom of movement with a natural, handmade look. Tom Brady’s line of technical apparel takes a similar approach, focusing on textures and styling details in an almost monochromatic color palette to present clothes for the active wearer, “made by athletes for athletes.”

Smartened-Up SeparatesWhether inspired by workwear styles or made for the working day, the feel-good moment for these utilitarian trends comes from the satisfaction of work well-done, plus a sense of belonging when what you’re wearing feels right just about anywhere. Familiar workwear brands like Carhartt and CornerStone do double-dopamine duty here, getting the job done on the work site and fitting right in when you go out after work.

Smartened-Up Separates

You might be thinking that bringing easy, dressy and utility to play nicely together is starting to sound a little complicated. And you’re not wrong! That’s where the final piece of the puzzle fits in — being smart with your separates.

Last month we talked about Gen Z and their love for collaboration. Customization and co-creation are something younger generations have come to expect in the games they play, the food they eat and the clothes they wear. The mood-boosting aspect of this is pretty clear – creating something uniquely suited to you feels good in the moment and when you’re using or wearing it later.

Fashion designer Tory Burch’s recent New York-themed show plays into the co-creation movement with a ready-to-wear collection that sets out “not to dictate, but to offer building blocks of personal style.” Built from many separate pieces with personality, it is “an invitation for women to put it all together and have fun.” The Mercer+Mettle line we talked about earlier comes to mind here again, each piece acting as a mix-and-match element, allowing you to take those different pieces and make something new. What’s not to love about that?

A wardrobe doesn’t need a talking AI or fancy gadgets to be smart — though there are days I wouldn’t mind either. Applying a little organic intelligence, combining easy and dressy, focusing on utility and using those separate pieces to create a unique and cohesive look is the smart wardrobe we all need right now.

I hope you’ll join us next month as we take a closer look at color — what’s trending and how we’re wearing it. See you then!