The past year has completely transformed work culture; specifically when and how we work. Commuters started working from home. In-person brainstorms turned into Zoom meetings. Our kitchen tables became our desks. All along, our fashion evolved with the times too. Blazer on top and sweatpants on the bottom? No problem; especially when your legs are conveniently out of view during video calls. This type of environment isn’t new to solopreneurs and freelancers—doing work on-the-go or from home is the norm. Work-from-home fashion isn’t just pajama pants and pullovers. In fact, getting dressed with nowhere to go is more popular than we thought—even in the middle of a pandemic.
Need proof? Polly McMaster, founder of womenswear brand The Fold, asked her customers to participate in a “New Workwear Code” survey about their work-from-home experiences. Over 3,000 women took part and the insights prove that clothes play a significant role in the working woman’s mindset. For example, 69% of respondents say that what they wear at home “can still be a signal of executive presence.”
Some of the standout responses:
“Dressing up has become a way to show that you’re on top of things”
“Professionalism is more important than ever. In times of chaos, projecting calm, efficient capability and ‘holding it together’ is essential”
“In some ways, it has become easier to stand out simply by making an effort”
Still, McMaster and her team “heard that it was important to be comfortable, and looking aware of a new more casual/at home situation.” One respondent said she thinks a transition to “elegant casual” is taking place and to be honest, I’m here for it.
“The level of formality has dropped,” says another respondent, “but quality and impression still matters.”
“Some of our customers have also cited missing the feeling and confidence that they have getting dressed up for work—including wearing heels!,” adds McMaster. “It is part of their persona and their work life, and they are looking forward to those moments and that excitement when heading back to the office.”
Case in point:
“I think it’s so important to get dressed for work to remind myself that my work is important – and that I am, too”
“If I dress sloppy, my mood follows!”
“I’ve missed my work persona who appears when I put my work gear on”
“Dressing for work means assuming a role… and stepping into a particular psychological space”
Stepping into a work mindset matters and at home, clothes are an important tool for pulling this off.
“A clear theme across the feedback from our customers was that what we wear can influence our mood, our professionalism, our outlook, our confidence—so whether we are at a workplace or at home, these factors are still important,” says McMaster.
One respondent shared that she is more inclined to listen to someone who is “smartly dressed” because it indicates that they are “treating our conversation as important to them.”
Designers are also responding to the shift in work from home fashion. For instance, The Fold is focused on integrating technical fabrics, versatility, and comfort into their pieces without abandoning the elegant aesthetic they’re known for.
View this post on Instagram
So next time you’re getting ready to meet with a brand or client on Zoom, remember you can have a greater impact by dressing as if you’re going to the office—even if you haven’t left the house all day.
“Our key tips would be to enjoy wearing bright colors and impactful prints, and statement tops. Equally a sharp blazer with an easy blouse, and crisp clean lines can look simple and elegant,” suggests McMaster.
“It is also a great opportunity to smarten up with some strong lip color. Personally, I’ve received compliments every time I’ve put on a red lip before a Zoom call. A bright silk blouse and a red lip helps me feel ready and more energetic for the next call, even when Zoom fatigue starts to creep in!”
Editor’s note: if you spend a lot of time on video calls and don’t have ideal lighting, it’s time to invest in a ring light.
Subscribe to the BlogHer newsletter for more tactical advice, exclusive content, and timely event updates.