Thursday, 18 February 2021

Less formal, more comfortable: pandemic transforms work attire




Suits and tailored shirts are out, sweatpants and pajamas are in: remote working is changing work clothes habits, and while vaccines may bring back some formality, old-school office attire should emerge from the pandemic far less starched and strict.


"For the last year, everybody has just been dressed from the waist up, wearing a nice short for Zoom calls," quipped stylist Sascha Lilic.

Many workers who have already returned to offices notice a new relaxed vibe.



"I saw someone wearing just their socks when they walked through to get something from another department," recalled Deanna Narveson, a journalist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"I think I've been dressing slightly more casual myself," added Narveson, who nevertheless makes sure she puts on "real clothes" when working from home.

According to employees at several companies, the casualness has happened by itself without management or HR teams intervening.

"Shorts and T-Shirts at the Pentagon was pretty new," said Matt Triner, boss of IT consulting firm Hunter Strategy, which the US government has contracted to do several projects.

The relaxation of dress codes in the professional world was already under way long before the pandemic, with the tech sector and start-up generation leading the way.

It was even catching on at banks.

"We have had a 'flexible' dress code policy for almost two years now, which encourages our people to use their own judgment for what is appropriate to wear for their work day," said a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs.

The pandemic has seen the trend toward comfort accelerate, though.

"Suits and ties were already going away in IT. The pandemic gave the last hangers-on an excuse to let go," said Triner.

The trend has been catastrophic for formal menswear companies like Brooks Brothers and the parent company of Men's Wearhouse, which both declared bankruptcy last year.

New York designer David Hart, a specialist in luxury men's ready-to-wear items, has taken "a step back" from tailoring from the time being to focus on knitwear, masks, sweaters and polo shirts.

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