“It’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done.”
– Terry Pratchett –
They say that a good magician never reveals how she does her tricks. But what we call “magic” is often just taking everyday objects and doing something surprising with them. A coin is nothing special until you make it disappear. A playing card? Not that exciting unless it unexpectedly catches on fire.
Magic is simply a way of making the ordinary extraordinary.
With that in mind, this month we’re taking a closer look at how we’re making a bit of practical magic in what we wear by bringing familiar, useful features together with unexpected applications.
Casual Fridays Every Day
Where would we be without Casual Fridays? Our once-a-week chance to cut loose and wear what feels good or looks fun…or both! This work-week tradition finds its origins in the Hawaiian garment industry of the 1960s, but didn’t really hit its stride until the 1990s with Dockers’ eight-page “Guide to Casual Business Wear.” These days it’s taking on a whole new look and purpose.
This shift is redefining how we talk about “tailored” looks. As working from home allowed for tracksuits and sweats to become the norm, the definition of “tailored” has also relaxed to resemble what Casual Fridays used to look like 30 years ago. “The current tailored style trend is not the corporate uniform that your father wore to the office every day,” says John Jones of The Manual. “Today’s tailored clothing incorporates all the comfort and performance that we’ve come to love from our favorite athleisure brands.”
Modern tailored apparel is built to look professional but also be functional and comfortable. For example, take a look at the OGIO Fusion Blazer, which completes a polished look but is built for versatility of use with a nylon-spandex fabric and a water-repellent finish. This is a piece you want to wear on your first day back at the office.
Other options include some of our newest go-to pieces. The Ladies Microterry Cardigan and Pullover from Port Authority are super-soft for comfort and snag-resistant for performance, like any layer you’d throw on easily at home – but with a professional polish that also fits in perfectly in the workplace.
Functionality like this helps us feel like we’re making smart choices – we spend less and we waste less by buying versatile clothes we can wear in multiple situations. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?
I recently watched Minari, a movie about a Korean family that moves to Arkansas in the 1970s to start a farm there. (Great movie, by the way!) I couldn’t help but think that the outfits the characters wear in the film – like the father’s loose-fitting camp shirt and baseball cap – would fit in just as well today as they did 50 years ago.
The costumes in Minari speak to the Newtro trend, which reinterprets vintage fashions and style with a modern spin. Combining “new” and “retro,” Newtro first grew in South Korea around 2019 but has more recently made its influence known in apparel trends around the world.
These can take shape in the fabric of a garment, as we see in the Ladies Thermal Full-Zip – a retro thermal fabric used in the style of a modern hoodie. It can also look like a retro style, such as the classic Mechanics Jacket, while utilizing a fabric that performs to modern standards of water-resistance and breathability. Along the same lines, the Transit Backpack looks like the backpacks we all had in high school, but includes compartments for technology and other modern necessities.
The end result of the Newtro movement is to interpret elements from the past to create something new, as Korean trend analyst Choi Ji-hye points out. Minari was far from the first instance it’s shown up recently – once you start looking for it, you’ll see it everywhere.
So here are all the ingredients you need to cast a spell of practical magic: a taste of the familiar and an eye for the modern. A healthy dose of casual attitude and a certain respect for professional panache. A cup of comfort, a dash of versatile design. Give it all an unexpected shake and presto! You’ve made something new and exciting.
Pick up your wand, pull back the curtain and learn the tricks for yourself. I promise that if you do it right, it’s still going to feel like magic.
We’re going to keep this idea going when we see how utilitarian apparel is becoming more playful in its presentation. Sounds like magic? I hope you’ll join me to see how it’s done next month. See you then!