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36% of Americans feel like they have nothing to wear for post-pandemic life

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As much of the country reopens, people will be getting dressed for occasions like work, weddings and travel for the first time in over 18 months. And in those 18 months, much has changed for them sartorially. 

According to new research, more than one in three Americans feel they’re stuck in “style limbo.”

Thirty-six percent feel like they have “nothing to wear” after fourteen months without dressing for social occasions. During this time the average American has purged an average of seven items from their wardrobe because they no longer fit.

A recent survey of 2,000 Americans looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s fashion choices.

It found one in 10 have given up on dressing fashionably during the pandemic.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Nordstrom, a fashion retailer, the study also looked at people’s fashion plans for fall.

After a year at home, it’s not surprising that more than half of Americans (52%) said their personal style is all about being comfortable. In fact, two in five said that following the pandemic, they will dress comfortably for the rest of their life. 

And 37% said their personal style has transformed during the pandemic, with 43% saying spending more time at home contributed to the change.

While 35% are more open to trying new styles than they were before, they face multiple hurdles in changing how they dress, including finding clothes that are flattering for their body type (45%) and clothes that fit (43%).

When it comes to special occasion outfits, respondents are looking for help finding looks for events (34%), dining out (32%), travel (21%) and work (20%).

“Coming out of the pandemic, people have a chance to reimagine what style means for them and become reacquainted with the joy of fashion,” said Fanya Chandler, senior vice president at Nordstrom. “For some, that means adding more comfort to their wardrobe, even as they return to normal. Others are ready to emerge from their homes looking their best and trying something new.”

Of those who plan to default to basics, 17% want to make like a chameleon and “blend in” before they find their style while 15% believe minimalism is their style or are looking for pieces that are easy to coordinate. 

With opportunities for a style revamp opening up along with offices, working Americans who plan to return to an office this fall are raring to get out of their “comfort” zone and say yes to dress pants (28%), dress shirts (28%) and dresses (26%). 

“People are excited to dress up for special occasions again: whether that’s travel, social or work. There is great enthusiasm for celebratory dressing — color, print and new silhouettes,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s and men’s apparel. “People are looking for ways to refresh their closets after a year of mostly staying home: from new occasion wear, such as a suit or dress for an upcoming event to new pieces that offer versatility from day to night.”


  1. Dress pants 28% 
  2. Dress shirts 28%
  3. Dresses 26%
  4. Handbags 22% 
  5. Skirts 22% 
  6. Statement boots 18% 
  7. Heeled shoes 17%
  8. Blazers/sport coat 16%
  9. Suits 15%
  10. Tie 10%

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