Am I Nonetheless Anticipated to Put on a Blazer to Work? Your 2021 Workplace Apparel Questions Answered
As more and more Covid-19 vaccines are being distributed, the reality of being attracted to us for re-entry into the world is on our collective minds.
Are our “real” clothes still working or is it time to go shopping?
In 2020, I helped my styling clients develop Zoom capsule cabinets to maintain a sense of leadership while they work virtually and support their teams. As the year progressed, screen fatigue set in and a broken bandage became the norm. flattering tops that are visible to the camera paired with off-screen sweatpants. Now that we get back to the office, some people are looking forward to dressing up and updating their wardrobes while others hope elastic waists never go out of style.
Remember that the evolution of what we wear to work often reflects global trends. In the early 2000s, Casual Fridays were a reaction to the rise of the Silicon Valley clothing culture from hoodies and jeans. It took years for the rest of the country to adopt a business casual dress code for five days a week, and even then some of the most conservative industries like banking, politics, and law never really adopted a dress-down culture.
Below are some predictions and suggestions of what to expect from your (and that of your employees) wardrobe when you return to work.
Get ready for elevated casual
I believe that pandemic dressing will accelerate a new category and lead to “increased leisure behavior” in companies as some continue to run from home and others choose to go into offices. Not to be confused with standard leisure, sports or loungewear. Elevated casual wear will be a worthwhile clothing investment category and will become the new business casual apparel of the 2020s.
Heightened causality is a mix of the traditional business casual dress code and a more casual, loungewear-inspired clothing style. Think of monochromatic clothing and structured clothing paired with cozy, chic basics. Blazers for men and third pieces for women are deconstructed (as in, no extra shoulder padding), fashionable (bold colors and fits) and the fabrics provide the comfort required for movement from day to night.
My clients look for a sense of personal identity when they fill their closets for spring with items that signal optimism, strength, accessibility, and fun. At the top of their list of clothing items in 2021: bold new glasses, patterned tops, updated pants (some just put on!), Stackable jewelry, comfy and stylish shoes.
Dress codes are being rewritten
Professional presence remains important, but priorities will shift into a sense of personal self and style to build confidence. In the future, we need clarity from companies about what they expect from the dress code, both virtually and in person. Business formal will continue to be a dress code in traditional industry: government and political clothing is a perfect example of a type of clothing that has not waned due to the pandemic.
However, on days of inward alignment, our officials and politicians also have questions about clothing parameters, and some dress codes may allow some relaxation. Men may not need a jacket and tie, and women may forego heels and clinging sheath dresses. We’re all excited to “resurface” to some extent, but many may be too exhausted after the pandemic to sustain our excitement over the long term.
It is important to loosen and rewrite the dress code to reflect the time. Founders can interview their teams if they consider the right guidelines for your own workplace. Think about the image you expect from your customers, investors, and the public, and don’t lose sight of the factors that influence your professional (yet comfortable) style decisions.
It will be a slow return
We are ready to be seen again and get out of the pandemic. While some may yearn for a twenties dress-up culture, the reality is that most baby steps need to be taken for a successful and stylish re-entry into a conference room.
It’s time to rediscover our reasons for getting dressed. The customization will occupy a new place in our style identity and we will decide whether to dress twice a week for office visits or be sustainable again for the entire work week.
Either way, update your mask selection and add mask chains (a unisex necklace to keep your mask handy) to your shopping list.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.