Is this the end of Power dressing?
how to dress for the office in 2021
Get ready for elevated casual
Post-pandemic dressing could accelerate a new category and give rise to "elevated casual" in companies as some continue to work from home and others choose to go into offices. Elevated casual will not be the same as the casual wear we know today, athleisure, or loungewear, elevated casual will be a worthy investment category of dress and will become the new business casual of the 2020s.
Elevated casual is a hybrid of the traditional business casual dress code and a more casual, introducing loungewear-inspired style of dress to the office. Think monochromatic dressing and structured clothing paired with cozy-chic basics. Blazers for men and third pieces for women will be deconstructed (as in, no extra shoulder padding) and fashion-forward (bold colours and fits), and fabrics will embrace the comfort needed to move from day to night.
Dress codes will be rewritten
Professional presence remains important, but priorities will shift into a personal sense of self and style as a tool to boost confidence. Moving forward, we'll need clarity from companies on dress code expectations both virtually and in-person. Business formal will continue to be a dress code in traditional industries: Government and political attire is a perfect example of a mode of dress that has not slackened because of the pandemic.
However, on internal-facing days, even our civil servants and politicians have questions on parameters of dress, and some dress codes may allow for some slack. Men might not need a jacket and tie, and women may forgo heels and clingy sheath dresses. We are all excited to some degree to "show up" again, but many may be too drained post-pandemic to maintain our enthusiasm for it long term.
Relaxing and rewriting dress codes to reflect the times is important, and founders can survey their teams when considering the right guidelines for your own workplace. Keep in mind the image expected from your clients, investors, and public, and don't lose sight of the factors influencing your professional (yet comfortable) style choices.
It'll be a slow return
We are ready to be seen again and emerge from the pandemic. While some may crave a Roaring Twenties dress-up culture, the reality is that most will need baby steps for successful and stylish reentry into a conference room.
It is time to rediscover our reasons to get dressed. Customisation will have a new place in our style identities, and we will decide if dressing up happens twice a week for office visits or once again becomes sustainable for the entire work week.
Either way, freshen up your mask selection and be sure to add mask chains (a unisex necklace to help keep your mask handy) to your shopping list.