Back to the Office: from COVID Comfort to the Future of Work Wear
When it comes to dressing for work in 2020 it seems the rule book of professional dress has changed. Whilst hoodies and tees were all the rage our thoughts have inevitably turned back to our work wardrobes and how to fine-tune the perfect Zoom uniform or back-to-office look.
Whether your office is slowly reopening with scheduled days to control capacity, or whether you are set to be working from home for the unforeseeable future, COVID-19 has changed life as we know it and with that has had major impacts on fashion and our dressing habits. As a stickler for corporate dress and a true lover of suiting and heels, it has been an interesting transition.
For someone like myself, who always knows what to wear and when, I have had to rethink my wardrobe choices and almost rebuild an appropriate ‘what to wear to work’ collection of outfits. The collection includes a variety of my classic go-to pieces, just restyled to feel slightly less formal and slightly more casual to align with the environment we are all working in today.
Back to the Office Day One
For many of us who have not been back to the office in months, the return to office life can be somewhat daunting, particularly when you contemplate what to wear. If your workplace was a formal space and you are not sure what rules apply any more, I feel like nothing beats the classics.
For the men, smart pants in navy or black, with a business shirt and leather shoe and for the ladies a trouser, skirt or blouse with a block heel (closed toe) will also work. It’s like riding a bike people! Once you go back to a corporate flow, adorning corporate dress it will be like you never stopped. The feeling it emits of confidence, motivation and commitment enforces the ever-important influence that dressing well has on our mood. So, dust off your old suits, bring out your heels and rock your work wardrobe because the feeling is contagious.
The Daily Zoom
Zoom is a tool we have all become very well acquainted with, and whilst for most it is best endured without the camera, it is not really an option for a new client pitch or meeting with your boss. Dressing from the top down has never been more important, a crisp button shirt with chinos for the guys and a top or tee with a blazer for the ladies will ensure your outfit passes the screen test every time.
The WFH Juggle
For those of us who are juggling home schooling with a full-time job or sharing home as a workspace with your partner, we feel you and the many balls you are managing! Multi-tasking the washing, kids’ lunches, a full inbox and diary of meetings means you need to be practical yet professional in your choice of attire, something that is comfortable but makes you feel like you have it all under control.
The WFH uniform therefore needs to be adaptable and dependable. Choose hard-wearing fabrics and styles and opt for functional separates such as jeans or polyester/elastane trousers.
For ladies combine this with a wash and wear top and for the gents a nice polo shirt and you are set to go.
Frontline-Retail - What to Wear
The impacts have been felt far and wide with not only professional dress changing but our thoughts on retail wardrobe in our store facing environments also shifting. With a move from formal to smart casual we need to redefine retail uniforms to follow suit.
Our retailers are operating in a tough economy and whether you are in food, hospitality, fashion, or real estate the impact of a first impression has never been more important. What your team wears and how they tell the story of your brand will separate you from the crowd and ensure your team is on trend, comfortable and rocking a bit of fashion will reassure customers that you mean business.
What the future holds
The trend towards smart-casual workwear is something we had identified even prior to COVID-19 and the focus has been to define the retail frontline uniform. This resulted in extensive product development in order to create the perfect custom Tee. For a retail front-line worker who is consistently on the go, the requirement for not only a fashionable and presentable garment was paramount but also one that would withstand regular wash and wear as well as suit a variety of shapes and sizes. Our take on trends for frontline is it is all about looking cool, comfortable, and collected—particularly through a global pandemic.
The impact of COVID-19 has been greater than any of us could have ever imagined, as a result our lives as we know it has changed completely. As we try to navigate through this new normal, we can still recognise that the hoodies and trackkie phase of months past are well and truly behind us. As the seasons change and we start transitioning back to traditional offices and shop fronts we are starting to fall back in love with our blazers, linen shirts and wash and wear blouses. It really is all about the transitional wardrobe that can take you from your Zoom meeting, to the office through to the grocery store. Uniforms during these COVID times need the balance of not only staying realistically practical but also combining the element of professional.
Pamela Jabbour is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group—uniform designer and manufacturer to some of Australia’s leading brands such as Dan Murphy’s and Fantastic Furniture. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, Total Image dresses over 300,000 Australians per day in their work wardrobe.