Can we all agree that the pandemic has completely disrupted our motivation for getting dressed? I never imagined that couch commuting could become so mainstream, and in that process we’d be left with little desire for putting on real clothes!
And even though many are back to their regular routines, there’s still this lingering confusion since “work appropriate” no longer carries a clear definition, and the stuff we used to love doesn’t fit or feel right anymore.
As a personal stylist, I’m getting questions like …
….Can I wear jeans to the interview since we’re meeting in a coffee shop?
….Does it matter if I have on leggings since the call is on Zoom and they’ll never see my bottom?
….What should I wear to work now that no one seems to care anymore?
To help you navigate the post-pandemic professional dressing dilemma, I’ve got 2 rules for you to consider. Apply these rules to your individual circumstances, and they’ll provide some much needed clarity on what to wear!
Rule #1 Choose Comfortable Clothes That Energize You
The Pandemic gave us permission to be comfortable in our clothes, and many of us went all-in with the cozy style. Personally, I created a hierarchy of sweatpants. I had my fancy sweats that I wore “to work”. Then I switched into my lounge-y sweats that signaled the end of the day.
Soft pants weren’t the only pandemic markers. There were also high heels which fell by the wayside. Rather than suffer in uncomfortable shoes, women went for flatter options like Rothy’s and Birdies because the extra height wasn’t worth the discomfort.
Whether you got comfy in sweats or you’ve swapped out your heels, the good news is that the fashion industry is on board with the relaxed aesthetic. Athlesiure is an ongoing trend, and there’s a new category of clothing called workleisure which gives you a professional silhouette in more comfortable fabrics. Knitwear blazers and work trousers with yoga-pants-style stretch have become work-friendly staples.
The idea behind this new rule is that your clothes must always support you. Once dressed, you shouldn’t think about your outfit anymore. If your feet hurt, or the shoulders on your blouse are too tight, it will distract you. Comfortable clothes allow you to be more present in your life.
There’s a caveat to this rule, however, and it’s when you prioritize comfort to a fault. You know when you sink into a super deep couch and it starts to suck you in? It’s hard to get off that couch! That’s what happens when you’re prioritizing comfort to a fault. As a part of its support, your clothes must also motivate you so that you feel energized and ready to do your thing.
If your clothes lack energy, you’re choosing comfort to a fault and it may be time to get off that couch.
ASK YOURSELF THIS:
Once fully dressed, am I still thinking about my outfit?
Do I feel ready and motivated for my day?
Rule 2 Be More You
Have you seen the sci-fi show Severance? It’s about a group of people who opted in for a brain chip that removes their memory outside of work. So they become two different people with two separate lives — one is in the office, the other is out of the office.
For those of us who have been working at home since the pandemic, we’re experiencing the opposite, or a “blended” life where our home and work days have merged into one. I remember a live presentation that I gave last year when my Zoom-schooling kids were making their own lunch, and they set the fire alarm off. I had my presentation participants wait while I tended to the fire alarm.
Real life has seeped into our work days, and this has paved the way for a level of authenticity not normally seen. In terms of our style and getting dressed, you have more freedom to show others who you are. It’s an opportunity to have fun with what you wear. But most importantly, it’s a call to dress for how you want to feel, and not what others think. This means no more wearing something because you think you should. You can still dress the part, but remember that you are the main character. Showing personality breeds confidence, and sets you apart from everyone else.
ASK YOURSELF THIS:
Do I feel like myself?
Am I comfortable in my skin?
Hit play to see the quick tutorial with an easy WFH formula.
Getting Dressed In A Time Of Transition
The reality is that we’re all transitioning from the pandemic which looks different for everyone. But then there’s also the individual transitions that we’re going through — new job, new role at your company, new body, new city….whatever it is! Readjusting our styles to align with the new circumstances will always be a challenge. That’s why most women who come to me for styling help are in some sort of transition. They seek guidance to navigate the uncertainty because it is an area outside their expertise.
I like to compare this process of transition to the trapeze — there’s the moment when you are holding onto the back bar (your old life) and as you reach for the front bar (your future) you must let go of the back bar. There is no guarantee you will catch the front bar — it’s a risk to let go! But in this moment of uncertainty, we must find the self trust and use the forward momentum to reassure us that we’re heading in the right direction.
Click play to watch the video below for an interview I did with Career Coach Mo Faul where we discuss the changing rules of style in the workplace.