The hemlines and party dresses are too short and the skin is visible everywhere. Is it possible that pandemics are always as strict as this one? It was our first rodeo so I don’t have any comparisons. However, I expected the apocalypse would be more outrageous. It would have been more, I suppose, if you count the monkeys that were kept in each of the speakeasies. There were fewer jigsaws, and fewer houseplants. If you weren’t really ill, the bad times were oddly healthy. People were excited about the new sport of “walking”. Wild swimming was for the daredevils. It was all about the people’s desire to hug their grandparents, and not about missing out on dancing floors. All of it was very clean and simple. Instead of lounging in silk, we wrapped ourselves in full-coverage cotton jerseys like convalescents at home.

We lost the ability to smile and wink at others, even though we were wearing masks. Public conversation was now very unsexy.

Now that the afterparty has arrived (clutching my fingers as I type), the tables are turning. The return of sexed-up fashion is here. The barely-there party dress is the first fashion trend after the pandemic. The hemlines of Off-White and Stella McCartney are now shorter than ever before. There are also corsets available at Burberry, Balenciaga and other brands. The skirts of the new Chanel suits are shorter than their jackets. This season isn’t about cashmere and sequins but skin. Not prairie collars but collarbones. This autumn’s catwalks channel Halston’s slithery Studio 54 goddess gowns rather than Little Women frocks. Shaded by Herve Leger’s 1990s-inspired bandage dresses, loose satin “evening pajamas” can be found in the shade of Herve Leger. Knitwear should be slim and not bulky.

These clothes can be a simple statement of lascivious intent. But, sometimes they are more. Sexy clothes don’t just refer to sex but also all its adjacencies, such as late nights, intoxication and novelty. Many of us are jaded about this stuff. I discovered a December 2019 photo on my phone. I am drinking a martini at a hotel bar. So why is my dress a polo neck sweater with a long, pleated skirt? Two years later, after we’ve watched Netflix and read all of the internet, it seems madness to refuse a party dress.

Sexy clothes are now available for everyone. Once, bodycon dresses were the badge of a body-fascist fashion society. The past 18 months have seen a shift in values. A younger generation is less likely to be complicit with the patriarchal nonsense. This taught generations of women that a short skirt was only allowed if the legs were slim enough. Then, those who failed that test were deemed “asking for it”. This group doesn’t believe that a hemline higher than a certain height is an implicit form of consent. They’re bringing back sexy, but not the body shaming or the slut shame. It’s much more fun. Sexed-up clothing has a hemline that is high and a silhouette that is narrow, but it’s not a fashion. It is a way to express your attitude and intent. It’s a leap from hibernation. It’s the skin that smells like perfume, not sanitizer. It’s what we can wear when it isn’t too scary to have fun. I hope that the houseplants are able to take care of themselves for one night.

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