This summer is an unusual time for the fashion industry, to say the very least. Gone are the days where extensive retail shopping was a weekend activity. Dressing up for all types of get-togethers, including the office, feels like a distant memory.
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Working Capital - Mission Blog

<<Mission Blog Home Posted: 07-21-2020

This summer is an unusual time for the fashion industry, to say the very least. Gone are the days where extensive retail shopping was a weekend activity. Dressing up for all types of get-togethers, including the office, feels like a distant memory.

The workplace fashion world especially has been drastically altered, or at least has evolved more quickly than anticipated. As we’ve mentioned on this blog, business casual has been making waves within the past five years. 

Rewind just four months ago, our days looked somewhat like this:

  1. Wake up and get ready for work
  2. Put on a business fancy or business casual ensemble, depending on the workplace environment. An outfit will be affected by the climate outside and your office temperature 
  3. Commute to the office
  4. Work for the day
  5. Commute home
  6. Immediately change out of work attire into comfortable clothing

Now, our days are more the like this. There are much fewer steps:

  1. Wake up and get ready for work
  2. Put on more comfortable, casual clothing. Some dress very casual, some opt for business casual on top. In any instance, this ensemble is affected by the climate in your home. 
  3. Work for the day
  4. Change out of work clothes or keep them on for the remainder of the day 

With the ever-evolving virtual world and COVID-19’s lasting effect on society, it seems that our new schedules aren’t changing anytime soon. And neither is our more casual, and widely-accepted workplace attire. Despite this new era in workplace dress, there are items that we can and should wear that will boost confidence, enhance one’s mental state and increase productivity. Wearing pajamas, and athletic gear all the time can get old (at least to me!). 

  • A professional shirt or blouse: We’re all now inside taking Zoom calls that only show the top parts of our bodies. While I personally think that dressing for success from head-to-toe is best, wearing a nice shirt will do you wonders. Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your top too. Bright fun colors will glow on the computer screen, and might add some pizazz to a washed out Zoom call. Since it’s more acceptable to wear casual gear these days, you might now have the chance to wear your favorite pieces of clothing (i.e. a brightly patterned button-up) that you might not have otherwise worn to work, because you thought they were, “too much!” 
  • Statement accessories: Another way to add some spunk, while remaining professional in the virtual work world, is by sporting statement accessories like necklaces or earrings. These small and easy-to-wear items can instantly transform your mood and alter one’s perception of your workplace attitude. 
  • A blazer, cardigan or jacket: If you really don’t feel like taking your blouses and collared shirts out of the back of the closet, consider throwing on a simple blazer, cardigan or jacket. This is a small but powerful way to “dress up,” that will enhance your virtual ensemble. If you love wearing sleeveless shirts and t-shirts these days, a piece of versatile clothing with sleeves is the answer to your, “this is not professional, but I don’t feel like changing,” problems. Since we’re now all working from home, it won’t be too hot to wear a blazer in the summer. You can always adjust YOUR thermostat! 

If the virtual WFH is truly here to stay, we won’t be the only ones who must change our business fashion behaviors. The fashion industry must be flexible and creative to address this new work phenomena.

It will be interesting to see how brands who produce business casual attire create clothing that is more athletic in style and fabric, but looks nice on the computer screen. I also wonder how the footwear industry will pivot to maintain sales, while meeting the needs of those who are now at home much more often (no more heels!). In all areas of fashion, I expect the focus to be less on trends, and more on practicality. 

No matter what you decide to wear to level up your workplace virtual attire, it’s most important to remember that dressing up can boost your mood, especially during these unprecedented, scary times. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to wear a collared shirt if you’re feeling down. But who knows – wearing something that you used to wear to work, even just a necklace, might give you the energy you need to get through the day. 


Working Capital, Goodwill mission blog author
This article was written by: Carolyn Becker
Senior Manager of Communications and Community Engagement


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