One Winter Trend to Remind You of Grade School01.12.2021
Just a year ago, we would have been skeptical if you told us that we would be in search of a balaclava. The only time we have worn this cozy headcover is when we were 15 and was skiing down Grouse Mountain in search of a beginner’s class. Both times, we looked like a condom. We suppose that the balaclava is something that we would struggle to wear. It’s just that we cannot get it off my head (or the desire to put it on).
This season’s hottest trend is to dress up as a six year old on recess in January. Zara, The Frankie Shop, Aritzia and other sites show that cozy balaclavas have become very popular and are often selling out quickly. These balaclavas are popping up all over Instagram, on runways for fall/winter 2021, and in street style photos taken at various European fashion weeks. They can also be seen on nightclub dance floors (true tale from a friend). Balaclavas combine all the latest trends, such as cozy knitwear and maximalist accessories with nostalgia dressing,” Shakaila Forbes Bell, Afterpay’s in-house fashion psychologist, says.
The trend is sweeping the globe, but for Canadians who spend eight months of the year in the cold, it makes sense to keep your head warm while you commute or on your mid-winter SAD walk. Marie-Eve Proulx (owner of Odeyalo in Montreal) started making balaclavas back in 2020. To help her fight the cold (stylishly), she took the cotton fabric leftover from her larger lines like cardigans and made neck-and-head warms.
Proulx told us that she needed something to keep warm, but also because it was a fashion accessory. “I’d seen many balaclavas for biking, but they didn’t look very athletic. I wanted something thicker so I could wear a hat or just wear it as a neckwarmer.”
Like many things RN, the pandemic has influenced fashion’s emphasis on comfort and function. After nearly two years of living in sweatpants, it’s clear that as we return to the world, we are looking for comfort and style. We also recognize that we can have both: something fashionable that keeps us warm and stylish. Patagonia fleeces and North Face are both in fashion. Forbes-Bell states that there has been a rise in global acceptance of the athleisure outfit this year. People are choosing to shop for what makes them feel good, rather than what society considers appropriate. Balaclavas can be used to create unique looks that don’t compromise comfort.
Along with the rise of athleisure after the pandemic, there is a growing love for maximalist dressing. This is tied to a desire and ability to experiment with personal style. Forbes-Bell confirms that maximalism goes hand-in–hand with the desire to be your own style and explore personal style. This is what we call “dopamine dressing.” This refers to the psychological lift that we get from the clothes and suggests the idea of people putting on clothes to satisfy an emotional need.
This makes perfect sense when you consider world’s new obsession with balaclavas. Perhaps it’s because they look so warm and cozy or because they remind us of growing up and being free to do whatever we want. But we love seeing people in them and thinking about how we would style one.
Balaclavas can feel like an individual experiment, with your own style. Balaclavas are a common staple on the slopes, runways and in Drill Culture, but unlike other high-fashion trends such as “Bottega Veneta Green,” balaclavas can be easily and subtly incorporated into everyday clothes to various degrees of high fashion. Balaclavas feel more because they look extra. They are in your face literally. You can add layers to your look in an age when fashion trends favor less (think: low-rise jeans, tiny corset tops), but you have the option of adding extra layers.
They’re also a great way for you to update your winter wardrobe, without having to spend nearly $2,000 on a Saks Pott coat. Proulx says, “We’ve had the same coat for years. But if we have this fun and colorful accessory, it’s not an expensive investment in terms of time and then we get a new look.”
Forbes-Bell suggests that you really lean into your balaclava and choose a bold color or print. This will make it stand out from the rest and allow you to style it with neutrals. We love this Odeyalo yellow one that reminds of a beam of sunshine. Although We have yet to purchase a balaclava, it is likely that we will once again look like a condom. This time, the only difference is? It’s fashion!