What do you wear and what does it say about your personal brand?
The other day I was wearing black leggings, a black tunic sweater and a pair of black Nike tops to work. The youngest person in our office told me she loved my outfit. I felt both cool and kind of like an old person trying to be cool, but in the end what I really felt was comfortable.
After months of working from home, often in a professional top and nightwear bottoms, getting down to dressing for the office every day has been harder than many of us — myself included — could have. expect it.
I wore a blazer last week and was so uncomfortable I almost cried at my desk. (Okay, maybe there was also a bit of seasonal depression to blame). But the truth is, many of us are going through a tough adjustment period as work-from-home days shrink.
As someone who loves fashion, I wonder what exactly is the dress code for this weird world we live in?
I understand that after two years in joggers, we are all looking for ways to keep joggers working properly. I even wore joggers to my New Years Eve celebration (sure, they had sequins, but they were really comfy). The problem is that I’ve also noticed that some professionals get too laid back when they come back in person. That said, there is a way to make working comfortable and professional together.
Here is a guide that I use. If in 2019 you would have worn heels, a blouse, a tie and/or a jacket because the work situation demanded it, in 2022 you should wear a version of it. Maybe the jacket has a looser fit and the heels are a bit lower, but there must be a hint of something that says, “I work here.”
A New York Times advice columnist shared this information when a doctor asked her in May 2021 what to wear under her white coat.
“In 2018, a group of researchers from the University of Michigan, Georgetown University and Baylor published a study in the British Medical Journal Open titled “Understanding Patient Preferences for Medical Clothing”. Subjects were shown a variety of images and asked to rate them based on how “each doctor is knowledgeable, trustworthy, caring, and approachable.” Guess what? The top-rated combination wasn’t the scrubs…it was a white coat and a formal dress.
The columnist then goes on to describe what exactly formal dress is in today’s world and basically it comes down to the fabric.
“It is worth preserving some of the qualities that we have come to appreciate in clothing during the pandemic, notably comfort, but in noble materials. Instead of leggings and sweats, think jersey, silk, georgette, crepe and crisp cotton.
Although this advice was offered to someone in the medical profession, I think it is good advice for anyone, regardless of industry.
In November, Vogue editors shared what they wore when they returned to the office. Yes, they work for a fashion magazine, but it’s clear from the photos that they go for a high but comfortable style. According to the article, “Executive Fashion Director Rickie De Sole adds comfortable jeans to her work wardrobe for the first time and Beauty Editor Lauren Valenti relies on the refined touch of a sweet suit.”
One of the positive things about the pandemic is that it has given some of us a chance to rebrand ourselves a bit, including what we want our work style to be.
Today’s world does not allow for hard and fast fashion rules like no tennis shoes or denim in the office. In fact, some companies have officially changed their once-strict dress codes in recent months. A good friend’s company removed a rule that required women to wear tights with dresses and skirts.
I once thought wearing anything with a hood to work was unprofessional, but I recently purchased a leather motorcycle jacket with a hood and thanks to the lux leather and fit, I think it works fine.
I gave an important presentation the other day and even though I wasn’t wearing what I would have worn in 2019, I still liked what I was wearing better. I define my new style as an English teacher from the late 1970s and early 1980s. An English teacher who always wants her students to think she’s cool, even if it’s “cool for an elderly person.
How has your work wardrobe changed in the past two years? Email me at [email protected] to share.