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Has the Pandemic Changed Workplace Fashion?

Priscilla Febus
Business Fashion Section Editor 

Professional on the top and casual on the bottom (Photo courtesy of FlexJobs)

Working remotely from home (or anywhere else) when the pandemic began led to a sharp change in workplace fashion. It started with looking professional from the waist up because no one would notice if someone was wearing their favorite sweats or pajama bottoms during Zoom calls. Once people began to realize remote work was going to become the new reality business professional outfits altogether were replaced by comfortable clothing we tend to always wear outside of work hours at home. But now that many companies are transitioning to being fully back in the office for face to face interactions, is everyone dusting off their work clothes from more than a year ago or transitioning their comfortable clothing to the office?

Fashion is constantly changing and this time comfort became a priority for work. No one wants to bring home to the workplace because being in sweatpants and a hoodie at home while working does not feel the same if it is done in the office. An in between had to be found, which is why the term “workleisure” was coined to be able to mix pre-pandemic fashion with post-pandemic. 

Lululemon’s Casual Workwear for Women (Photo courtesy of Lululemon) 

Brands such as Athleta and department stores like Nordstrom have begun to showcase more casual options for workplace outfits compared to what used to be shown before. Instead of heels or loafers, casual sneakers are becoming more commonly seen, and jeans are becoming more accepted to wear every day than just on “casual Fridays.” Even shirts and ties are becoming replaced with polos and a simple button down.

Due to the pandemic, there were various retail chains that had to shut down stores, therefore people having more limited options on resorting to buying more professional clothing from before, and more casual brands stepping in to fulfill this role while consumers begin to reform what their new work wardrobe will be. 

Another change to workplace fashion post-pandemic is that people are beginning to embrace creativity and individuality along with comfort. After spending more than a year working remotely and staying safe at home, people are looking for excuses to dress up a little more in their own individual ways, and not just what the office standards were. 

It is hard to say when and what will be the next shift in workplace fashion, and if another pandemic will be needed to determine the new outlook on what people should wear to work.


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