When businesses, gyms and restaurants across the country closed their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, Americans subsequently began spending more time in their homes — and with that came a renewed interest in comfort food and comfortable clothes.
In fact, searches for "best banana bread recipes" hit their peak when lockdown measures were first enacted across the United States. Around the same time, sleepwear also became an essential and searches for "tie-dye loungewear" soared, increasing by more than 350% in the last 90 days alone.
As we start to spend more time outdoors now that summer has arrived, we'll likely want to maintain the same level of comfort that our favorite recipes and sweatpants provided — and our search history proves it. Now that lockdown measures have started to relax in some parts of the country, Google Trends shows that searches for "elastic waists" are up 120% — an all-time high.
"An enormous number of people are living a different lifestyle than they were a few months ago," Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, told Shop TODAY. "Their activity levels have changed enormously. If they were active, they are necessarily much less so, just because people aren’t out and about. If they’re out and about, they’re just starting to get out and about now."
According to Kayla Marci, a market analyst at retail analytics firm Edited, the number of products described as having an "elastic waist" has seen a 52% increase in sales year-over-year since the start of 2020.
This dramatic increase is not necessarily unprecedented, as Marci says sales for items with an elastic waistband also spiked around this time last year. Still, the arrival of social distancing guidelines seemed to spark interest in comfortable clothing much earlier than usual.
"An earlier spike in these items was also noted in April 2020 during peak lockdown period," Marci said.
Cohen says this spike can be coupled with the fact that we are living in a new era of casual wear, which was accelerated by the current conditions and limitations of the world.
"If we were all dressing casually before the pandemic, now we are all wearing flip-flops, shorts and T-shirts," Cohen said. "We simply moved to another level of casual living, and casual living and elastic go hand-in-glove, as opposed to clothes that are fitted and tailored."
Marci also says that this trend can likely be attributed to the increase in individuals working remotely. "This was spurred on by people shopping for comfortable alternatives to wear while adjusting to working from home," Marci said.
While your go-to pair of leggings might be stretchy and comfortable, they might not be the best option for summer wear. To make your search for elastic and stretchy clothing a bit easier, we rounded up some of the best options to suit any wardrobe.
Read on for our full list of elastic-waist skirts, shorts and pants that are comfortable and breathable enough for summer.
Elastic waist shorts
These linen-blend shorts feature an elastic waistband with an adjustable self-tie string for a better fit, and select styles are currently on sale.
Since these shorts are also crafted with spandex, they offer a bit of stretch and are still breathable enough for all-day wear. One reviewer found them to be so lightweight that you "don't even know you are wearing them."
These jersey knit shorts are perfect for lounging and come in over 16 different colors. The length provides enough coverage for you to feel confident all day long.
For comfort without compromising style, these cuffed shorts feature a button detailing that makes them perfect for transitioning from day-to-night.
Linen shorts are a summer staple thanks to the breathable and soft feel of the fabric. Luckily, this pair from Old Navy is available in 10 different designs and colors, so you can build a versatile and comfortable wardrobe at sale prices.
These mid-rise shorts offer just the right amount of coverage, so you can feel confident in your look without worrying about the length. The elastic waistband can also be reinforced by the drawstring tie, which adds to the nautical striped look.
These adorable floral shorts can easily be paired with some sandals or white sneakers for a summer-ready look.
Since these shorts are crafted with Tencel, a sustainably-sourced fabric, they feel smooth and soft. You can style each of the four colors available with sneakers for an everyday outfit.
These figure-flattering shorts cinch at the waistline to highlight your curves. Each style is available in sizes x-small to x-large and on sale for more than 40% off.
Biker shorts are on-trend for the season and can easily be paired with an oversized T-shirt for a casual look. These cotton-blend shorts are available in 16 different colors, so you can mix-and-match all summer long.
The elastic waistband on these denim shorts proves you don't have to sacrifice style for comfort. The "paper bag" look is another popular design that works best for summer and fall styles.
These shorts are bringing vintage vibes to the season in all five colors. Don't be deceived my the button closure — these shorts feature a comfortable elastic waist and even have functional back pockets.
A combination of all things comfortable, these shorts are perfect for the summer. The high-waist fit and flowy fabric make them loose-fitting enough for the warmer months but still a fashionable option for any occasion.
These pull-on shorts from Daily Ritual are made from 100% linen. Whether you choose the neutral solid colors or opt for a striped design, you can pair any of the styles with a breathable T-shirt for an effortless look.
Elastic waist skirts
The slit design on this midi skirt allows your legs to breathe on even the hottest days of the summer. All three colors of this classic skirt are currently on sale.
This chiffon pleated skirt is a versatile piece that can be worn long after the summer days are over. The comfortable elastic waistband is perfect for tucking in oversized T-shirts for a more casual look.
You can dress this comfortable skirt up with wedge sandals or dress it down with a sleek pair of sneakers for a look that is sure to earn you a few compliments.
All three styles of this flowy skirt are on sale for nearly 50% off the original price. Pair it with a white T-shirt and denim jacket for a layered look that is perfect for summer nights.
This skirt features three layers of floral designs and a stretchy, elastic waistband. The best part? You can save an additional 50% off on this fashionable find by using the code PERK at checkout.
One Amazon verified reviewer called this a "good, light summer skirt." As an added bonus, the chic polka dot styles also have pockets, so you can keep all of your summer essentials with you.
This bestselling skirt comes in 11 boho-inspired prints. The length hits just above the ankle, so it can easily be paired with flat sandals or pumps throughout the season. Since this skirt also has functional pockets, it might become your new go-to.
Elastic waist pants
These pull-on pants feature a thick elastic waistband that is not only comfortable, but provides a bit of tummy-control as well. Since the crop hits just at the ankle, these are perfect for office wear, no matter the season.
Crafted with wrinkle-resistant fabric, these pants were made for anyone on the go. They're available in eight summer-ready colors.
These stylish pants are perfect for any summer occasion and can easily be dressed up or down just by switching up your shoes. The elastic waistband is designed to stay in place no matter what the day brings, so you can feel as confident as you look without readjusting.
Made from a blend of cotton and polyester, these pants were made to offer the stylish look of denim with the comfortable feel of your favorite tee. They're available in three washes that are all under $20.
These pull-on pants come in six colors and prints, including two floral designs that are ready for any summer wardrobe.
The high-waist fit on these pants is as figure-flattering as it is comfortable. The belt is also removable, so you can adjust your outfit to what feels and looks best for your style.
Available in short, long and regular lengths, these polished pants provide a bit of stretch but are still sleek enough to wear to the office.
These twill cropped pants feature a "tummy control" panel that is figure-flattering and comfortable. All eight styles of the pant are on sale as part of Macy's July Fourth sale, so you can save an extra 20% off using the code FOURTH at checkout.
These loose-fitting pants feature overlapping front details that set them apart from other styles. Pair them with sleek pumps or heeled sandals for a wear-anywhere look.
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