Dress Code: The Modern Man’s Guide To Work (And WFH) Wear
Dressing for work has gone the way of the dodo in recent months. Our on-the-clock sartorial habits have become unrecognisable. It’s hard to imagine any workplace dress code having a pro-slipper policy pre-Covid-19 – even if, in hindsight, it would have been a great idea. And yet, for many of us they are now a fundamental element of the working wardrobe. It’s all part of the much-discussed “new normal” that has infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives, and to which we are constantly struggling to adapt. But adapt we must. We can’t very well spend the rest of our days languishing around the house in sweatpants (can we?).
Understandably, when it comes for dressing for work in 2020, there are myriad scenarios to plan for – WFH and the rise of the co-working space being just two. And, as offices begin to tentatively reopen, our thoughts have inevitably turned to our back-to-work wardrobes as well as how to fine-tune the perfect Zoom uniform. Ready to dust off your best suit and get started?
The WFH multi-tasker
In BC (before Covid-19) times, working from home was considered an occupational perk; something to silently begrudge of your colleagues if the terms of their employment included the words “flexible hours”. Now we have all become accustomed to working from our home offices (or, as the case may be, the comfort of your now permanently dimpled sofa), we’ve come to realise it’s an entirely different beast. One does not simply WFH. One also has children to care for (a task that now involves assuming the role of teacher), errands to run and chores to do. The WFH uniform therefore needs to be adaptable and dependable. Choose hard-wearing fabrics and styles – like Barena’s drawstring (comfort!) trousers – that are easy to clean if an afternoon of finger-painting with your little one is on the cards; and opt for functional separates such as this throw-on Nudie Jeans sweatshirt or a gilet from the aptly named The Workers Club if you need to nip to the shops.
The Zoom call (with your boss)
Zoom is a medium best enjoyed – or, rather, endured – with camera access denied, but a close virtual encounter with your superiors at the 9.00am meeting cannot always be avoided. And while you might not be able to escape the indignity of greeting your colleagues with a blotchy complexion – laptop cameras never seem to capture us in the best light – you can ensure your outfit passes the screen test. While your webcam might not be kind to your features, it’ll be more forgiving when it comes to fabric: will your boss really know that your blazer (this one courtesy of Prada) is made of comfortable knitted cotton-pique; or, south of the desk, will he spot that your apparently immaculately tailored Thom Browne trousers are actually cotton jersey and closer to your faithful sweatpants than anything approaching suiting? Your secret is safe with us.
Remember co-working spaces? Those communal offices with ping-pong tables, barista stations and, in one notable example, prosecco on tap? Networking with strangers again might be a little way off, but as more and more firms realise that a permanent building with their name on it might not be the best use of their diminishing overheads – and with working from home a less than ideal solution for many – we predict they’ll be back with a boom. As well as promoting a more flexible working environment, the co-working space encourages a similar approach to dressing. Well, to an extent. Yes, you can afford to be more casual than you would in a corporate environment, but steer clear of anything too attention-grabbing – note the sharply pressed Wacko Maria wool trousers and neutral cardigan – and you can certainly do away with the dress shoes and shirt, swapping them for a slick pair of black sneakers and a tee.
The first day back in the office
Being away from the office for such a long stretch makes the prospect of returning feel a tad daunting. For a start, do you even remember how to get there? Once you’ve re-familiarised yourself with the commute, the next thing on your list should be to think about how to make the best impression when you’re back at your desk. If your workplace specifies a formal dress code, now is the time to go all-out with a polished pair of Oxfords, briefcase and tie. And if squeezing into snug-fitting tailoring feels like a daunting prospect after six months on the sofa, remember that, smartness aside, a suit – particularly one as well cut and made as this charcoal-grey variety from TOM FORD – is the sartorial equivalent of a few sessions on the treadmill.
The team social call
We may not miss the office, but according to a recent survey of UK workers, the majority of us are pining for a catch-up with our colleagues. We’re social creatures, after all, and team drinks over Zoom isn’t quite the same as hanging out together in person. As for what to wear if and when the opportunity to socialise IRL arises, might we humbly suggest stepping outside of your comfort zone? If it’s been a long time since you’ve had a get-together, you’ll want to maintain the illusion that you’ve been highly productive and/or creative during your downtime and have a new-found sense of style to reflect it. Be bold with a busy printed shirt, such as this one from Sasquatchfabrix., switch your go-to bomber jacket for a chore jacket, try a new trouser fit (we’ve gone for something slightly wider in the leg, courtesy of Maison Margiela) or throw in an unexpected accessory.