Coronavirus: the impact on workplace fashion

COVID-19 has changed our lives drastically in every avenue, from online learning and social distancing, to multiple lockdowns and working from home. Spending extended periods of time confined to the walls of our homes has forced us to change our daily routines and behaviours. As well as changes to the way in which we lead our lives, coronavirus restrictions have also led to a drastic change in people’s fashion choices. Brands everywhere are seeing their loungewear sales soar, with a spokesperson from Gap stating that “loungewear is outpacing other styles currently”. The increasing desire for comfort and convenience during the pandemic has been reported from multiple avenues, with Browns London reporting a 70% increase in loungewear sales.

The need for comfortable clothing has also translated into workplace fashion, with brands such as Henri Vézina launching ad campaigns to accommodate for individuals working from home. The Canadian brand suggested only spending money on the top half of your clothing, as this is the only part of your outfit that individuals are going to see (due to zoom meetings being the only form of communication between you and your co-workers). The adverts consisted of men dressed with shirts, suit jackets and ties on the top half, and boxers on the bottom half; a similar advert was put out by fashion brand Prisma. As Allison Pfingst, a fashion historian, puts it ‘“while it is still advisable to look presentable from the chest up, no woman is putting on a thong or an underwire to attend a Zoom meeting… when we have to go back to the office, there’s a good chance it will no longer be in uncomfortable heels, or hard-to-tuck-in blouses.’

The shift towards comfortable attire has been seen not only in terms of only dressing for zoom meetings but will most likely still change when people are able to go back into the office. Whilst people still have the desire to look presentable and smart in the office, there has been a reduction in traditional office clothing. Van Wart, a store owner at Hilldale Shopping Center has seen a decrease in blazer and suit sales, but an increase in ‘more structured knits perhaps, like a nice, structured cardigan,’. Even in terms of footwear, uncomfortable shoes, such as high heels, are likely to drop off. Those who will still want to wear high-heeled shoes are likely to go for those with a wider and thicker heel for increased ankle support and reduced cramping.

We can see clearly the impact that work-from-home restrictions has had on workplace fashion, with more fixation on comfort. This shift will lead to a notable change in what brands have to offer; those looking for smart wear with a comfortable edge at a reasonable price will be likely to find these on marketplace websites.

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