How many times over a zoom meeting or whatsapp group have you heard, “Gosh, I put on a jacket today, can you believe it.” Or “I’d almost forgotten what a tie looked like, adios sweatpants” etc?
Anyone who thinks three months in pyjamas will lead to decades of casual office wear is sorely mistaken. Sure, there will be more people working from home etc, but clothing – on the occasions when we do go into the office – will be much more considered. Before you resurrect your shirt collection, it’s best to know your look:
Being able to dress up again will be a pleasure for this man. Hair that has grown too long, and new tailoring acquisitions that have been left sullen and unused, will be quickly remedied by he who feels six inches taller when putting on formal clothes and looking the part. It will not be a suit but checked jacket and flannel trousers, never without a tie, pocket handkerchief and polished shoes, adaptable to myriad situations and dress codes, with an emphasis on looking the part and taking advantage of things smartening up again. Social distancing is a welcome development as far as his polished shoes are concerned. A new outfit for the first day back is most certainly in order.
He will find that old habits die hard. Leaving the house with his matutinal croissant scattered over his jacket, racing out of the house because he forgot that a commute exists. Only when he gets to the tube station, wearing his government-mandated facial covering does he realise that in his haste, he picked up his wife’s mask, which disturbs the inner alpha-male in him. The suit has not been pressed since he last wore it, and the waistline is snugger than it was when last hung up, but out into the wild he must go. Power dressing will always give a sense of gravitas and the idea they might risk the big deals for the sake of wearing tracksuits is unlikely. A suit is the safest bet.
Burdened with a need to be noticed rather than blend into the background, those still finding their way through the office ranks will struggle most with finding the appropriate office wear. The hardest part is not looking like you’re wearing your father’s clothes that are several sizes too big, and also not looking like you’ve gone on a spending spree just before you’ve started working. Interns want to be noticed for the right reasons so well-placed navy knitwear (Ralph Lauren Polo Bear jumpers are the best) and chinos are a winning combination. Look like you’re taking things seriously without trying too hard to impress. The first day of navigation/orientation is just as much to see what other people are wearing as it is finding out where the kettle is.
Coronavirus has provided the window to retirement life, and that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If it’s good, the overdressed ennui will have set in for good and a pared-back approach to dressing reflects the denouement of your career and wanting to spend it in deck shoe, corduroys and sleeveless jumpers rather than suits. The exception being if there’s lunch at White’s calling, in which case you take the sartorial hit for the potted shrimps. If bad, I refer you back to back to The Businessman.