Mentally rewind back the time to January of 2020 in your mind, and picture what your life was like before the coronavirus outbreak. Pre-pandemic you were probably working on-site for a company that had a dress code you had to follow precisely—heightening your chances of being fired if you didn’t.
Before the onset of COVID-19 I spent many nights laying out my outfit prior to the next work day to guarantee that I had on the proper attire when I waltzed in. My fondness for fashion, and having the tendency to express that through what I wear, demonstrated to be problematic when I first entered the workforce.
After finally finding a happy medium between being stylish, and remaining within the confines of company dress code policies it happened. COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The pandemic shutdown completely overturned my life, and many others around the globe, inducing much anxiety, worry and uncertainty.
Notwithstanding everything that kept me up at night during the shutdown, like the status of my career, I found comfort in one silver lining that glimmered during a difficult point in time. No more formal business work attire, heck no more having to get dressed from the waist down if I didn’t feel like it because team meetings would now be on Zoom!
I did of course get fully dressed to be only half seen on Zoom because I didn’t want to lose the at-work feeling, nonetheless my choice was now optional—not mandatory. Many employees around the world must have shared my same sentiments, specifically in the U.S. and U.K.
According to BBC News, “In the UK, clothing sales plummeted 25% in 2020, the largest annual drop since record-keeping began 23 years ago. The picture was similar in the US, where fashion companies saw a 90% decline in profit in 2020. Particularly hard hit was the business-fashion sector, as workers swapped offices for their homes, in-person meetings for Zoom.”
With the insertion of the work-from-home model into the workforce, and the implementation of Zoom to assist with contactless interaction, formality in the workplace is evaporating even more. Business formal attire like suits, heels and ties were accelerated to its death by the pandemic, despite it initially fading away years ago with the birth of business casual in the 1990’s.
Tech moguls like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg popularized wearing jeans in a professional environment, showing the world that success isn’t always tied to how you dress—nor your productivity. The normalization of dressing in a more informal manner is persisting in 2021, and many employees are leaning towards wanting to keep casual work-wear a constant thing post-pandemic and beyond.
“Back in person at the museum and still trying to convince my curator that the zoom uniform of fuzzy pants and professional top should be my regular work attire. I really didn’t need the extra help from omicron,” someone tweeted.
COVID-19’s new variants delta and omicron may be the driving factors that could launch us back into another shutdown, hence why many want informality to be the new normality. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that life’s too short to be dressing in stuffy restrictive clothing in the name of professionality.
You can make power moves and thrive in the business world in or out of a blazer. As a woman, you don’t need four inch heels to ascend up the corporate ladder, at least that’s what Deputy General Manager and Country Head of L’Occitane India Simi Dewan believes.
“Power dressing is usually perceived as bold business suits and high heels for women,” Simi Dewan told Business Today.In. “However, I feel it needs to be a piece of clothing that is elegant and makes you feel confident, as well as comfortable.”
So dress up or dress down, just make sure you do your job to the fullest period.