Pandemic Fashion: How COVID-19 is Changing the Way We Dress at Work

16 September 2021

Dressing nicely from the waist up is a type of pandemic fashion we’ve become accustomed to over the past year. We’re now working from home more often which means we’ve adapted to multiple Zoom calls and limited human interaction, as well as changing the way we dress.

However, when we return to work and to the office, will the pandemic change the way we dress and what we look for in a work uniform? Let’s look at how COVID-19 has changed the way we dress for work.

Pandemic fashion

Waking up for work is a lot different now from what it was 18 months ago. No longer are we laying out outfits the night before or franticly searching our wardrobes in the morning before our shifts. Instead, many of us are cycling through a set of nice tops based on whether we have meetings that day and who the meetings are with. As for nice business pants or jeans? That’s a stretch! Many people are now opting for more comfortable options on the bottom based on the motto, “out of sight out of mind” when it comes to showing up on the screen. In fact, some of us often don’t bother getting out of our pyjama pants anymore!

Biz Corporates Brand Manager, Nivi M says, “as people are working from home, we’ve seen a bigger shift towards hybrid dressing. People are wearing loungewear bottoms with a dressier top; however, the top is still something comfortable like a nice knit top or t-shirt that’s comfortable and easy to wear.”

‘Pandemic fashion’ has slowly become a new normal for us. The comfort of working from home which once was seen as a novelty has now evolved into something that is expected the longer we stay working from home.

When we’re back working in the office, how are we going to happily squeeze ourselves back into fitted, uncomfortable clothing now that we’ve grown accustomed to comfort? With nowhere to go and no one to see, workers are starting to worry less about whether they’re wearing the same outfit multiple days in a row and instead are investing in minimalist staples in neutral colours that provide comfort and durability. These consumers are prioritising comfort over style, forgoing buying trendy clothes for basic apparel in neutral colours and comfortable fabrics.

What do we want from a work uniform?

What we want from a work uniform has dramatically changed in the past 18 months. Our answers used to be something along the lines of a fitted blazer, cute shoes and stylish accessories has now shifted to include comfy pants, a stretchy top and modest footwear. Not only have we had to adapt our working style to be more flexible, but our wardrobe choices have had to adapt too.

When the pandemic first started, many of us still tried to maintain some sort of normal routine, including dressing for work every day. The longer the lockdown has worn on, the less expectant colleagues become around uniform. For many of us, if a colleague turned up to a team meeting now fully dressed in office attire, no doubt a lot of us would be surprised.

As working conditions have changed, so too have our requirements for a uniform. Gone are the days where we would sacrifice comfort for style. Workers are considering ways in which they can incorporate and dress up some of their more comfortable pieces, so they are suited to the office once they make their return. Nivi says, “people are looking for comfort. Chinos, easy-care shirts, stretchy pants, natural fibres (i.e., cotton-rich shirts), and soft layering pieces such as knits and jumpers are all growing in popularity.”

So, will that flowy dress pass the professional test? How about those cute flats at the back of your wardrobe? These aspects of comfort are things we’re all on the lookout for.

How will workplaces change to adapt post-pandemic?

While the pandemic is still at large in nearly every country around the world, it’s nearly impossible to tell how businesses will change when a permanent return to work is made possible. One of the tricky things for employers returning to the office will be whether the dress code relaxes or stays the same. For some places where professionalism is crucial and a high level of presentation is expected, not a lot might change. For others, a change in dress code policies may be considered. Nivi believes a lot of organisations will change their rules around dress codes. “As we see more people working from home and uniform budgets decrease, we will need to bring out pieces that form part of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ which can be worn trans-seasonally,” she says.

Working from home has given many of us the chance to figure out what true comfort is – whether that’s a tracksuit and Ugg boots or a baggy jumper. As many of us are spending all day every day in more comfortable clothes, it makes sense that this is what we want from a work uniform now.

It’s time for companies to start re-evaluating their current uniforms and uniform policies to see where things can be adapted. Is there a more comfortable option of pants? A looser, but still flattering shirt? These are the types of questions employers should be asking themselves when considering whether their dress code is designed to fit the new world we now live in and which we have adapted to.

When it comes to pandemic fashion, the team at Biz Corporates has had to change and adapt their style just like everyone else. We are constantly looking at ways to reimagine our pieces to ensure they provide not only the sophistication required for office workers, but the comfort as well that we have been privy to when working from home.

To find your closest stockist and take a look at what pieces you could use for your return to the office wardrobe, click here.