The phone is ringing again. HR managers, while glad teams are returning to the office, show concern over a more relaxed attitude and appearance. Curious about Impression Management and Professional Awareness Training, they ask what can be done to “up their game”. Grateful to be back on course, employees are receptive to guidance. After such a sad year, it seems like everyone wants to dress happy, take up space and present their true selves. It boosts morale.
“Conforming to a style of dress and beauty standards will be a choice instead of expectation,” Jennifer Dasher, assistant professor of costume design at the University of Florida, said of post-pandemic fashion. “Self-expression, cultural expression and a continued desire to be comfortable will be central.”
“I expect to see lots of color,” agreed Gail Brassard, who taught costume design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Covid was such a life-changing event — like war or an economic crash — that its effects will be profound on all visuals.”
Throughout history, big global events — war, disease, depression— have directly impacted what we wear. Fashion is changing at a rapid clip, and the new look will be a reaction to what we’ve just collectively lived through. People are excited to continue feeling comfortable in their clothing while not sticking purely to sweats. Meanwhile, there’s a palpable energy of optimism to be harnessed, and that too is coming through in clothes.
The current dilemma I’m hearing from clients is that they simply don’t know what to wear. Some feel a bit clumsy now when it comes to self-presentation, so as we figure out what our post-Covid fashion looks like, another accessory to carry is grace — grace for ourselves and each other.
We vaguely remember who we were pre-pandemic, and now vaguely see who we’re going to be post-vaccine. Bold colors, comfortable clothes, walkable shoes and practical bags have emerged as the new norm. That said, dress still matters and tried and true classics will always elevate your business wardrobe:
- Jackets upgrade any outfit, including/especially jeans
- Closed-toe, nice shoes. Refined sneakers are fine.
- Quality fabrics
- Excellent Fit
- Appropriate attire for dress code/occasion
- Strive to look healthy, well-rested, and energetic.
- Be impeccably groomed.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
- Keep emails and texts grammatically correct and professional.
- Remember: The most polished presentation can never carry bad manners or poor service.
- Maintain punctuality, kindness, and respect.