While home working allows for more casual work attire, many people return to the office in some fashions.

The pandemic has seen a dramatic shift in the dress code for work. A poll by NPD market research found that only 10% of workers dress for work at home and change into comfortable clothes afterward.

The “Zoom shirt” is an essential piece of clothing for virtual video conferencing, which has been our only way to communicate with colleagues. According to the Urban Dictionary, this is the “shirt/ blouse that you keep on your back to be ready for video conferences”. LinkedIn recently conducted a poll and found that 42% had one.

Rupert Wesson director at Debrett’s says, “It allows me to maintain a professional image on camera without having to get dressed up in full office attire when I’m sitting at my kitchen table all day. Dressing up in a formal way makes you appear more polished. This shows respect for others.” According to a study, employees are more productive when they can wear casual clothing. This idea is supported by the ‘Zoom shirt.

Spencer X Smith, founder of AmpliPhi social media strategy company, said that his current work attire consists of shorts and, “more often than usual,” no shoes. He also wears a Zoom shirt.

woman in white long sleeve shirt sitting on red and brown couch

He says, “It’s long-sleeve button up medium blue. It looks great on camera. These shirts are great and can be dressed up or down. These shirts are not inexpensive, but they’re definitely worth the investment.”

People’s perceptions of what to wear have changed due to the pandemic. They now prefer simple and more minimalistic outfits. In this new normal, “Outfit of the day” culture no longer applies.

Charlie Teasdale, Esquire’s style director, says, “I think it can be safely said that dress codes are gradually relaxing for some time now.” He says, “The most recent benchmark seems to have been the shifting attitude of financial institution which has all got rid of suits or ties for most employees.” Goldman Sachs relaxed their dress code last year, asking employees to use “good judgment” when choosing what to wear to work. A 2018 poll showed that only 10% of respondents still wear suits to work.

The rise in shared office spaces is another factor. This allows companies to share hot desk areas. Wesson says that this means that workplace attitudes and workwear are changing.

Smith said that he will still wear his shirt when we return to our normal work practices. However, there is a possibility that our work dress code could be permanently changed. Teasdale says that many people will continue to work from home, so the nature and dress codes of workplaces will change. There’s also a new commute: People are cycling, scooting, or running to work more often. This will impact how people dress.

These factors, along with consumers’ greater awareness of the environmental effects of the fashion industry, could result in the largest change we have ever seen.

Ashley Ricketts, Luxe manager at online consignment shop thredUP, says that the pandemic caused many consumers to reconsider how they dress each day. “Consumers still want variety and fun in their wardrobes, without causing any damage to their wallets or the environment,” says Ashley Ricketts, Luxe manager at thredUP.

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