Monday, June 8, 2020

The Work Wardrobe, Post-Covid-19

Working from home has dramatically relaxed the traditional office dress code. People we’ve never seen not in a business suit are now suddenly tieless. Women whose make-up was always perfect are now pulling their hair up.

These changes are here to stay for a simple reason: A home office is still very much part of your home. And unless you’re videoconferencing with a client, casual codes are perfectly permissible.

Of course, this New Normal poses a problem, because part of a person’s authority comes from his garb. Someone wearing flip flops who says the exact thing as a person sporting Oxfords is inherently less credible. This is why doctors wear those white jackets emblazoned with their names: Because it’s hard to take someone seriously who’s chosen to outfit himself in a T shirt.

(There’s a great scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm, where a lawyer, who’s dressed in jeans for casual Friday, has to explain to a potential client that just because he, the lawyer, is dressed casually doesn’t mean that he’ll treat you casually.)

Which professions are likely to resist this change? Lawyers, bankers, and others who charge a lot for their services. These folks deal with big amounts of money, and they need to convey authority and gravitas. That’s hard to do via a screen, and even harder when you’re in a hoodie.

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