Editorial: Fashion forward

Last Updated on Friday, 14 May, 2021 at 10:03 am by Andre Camilleri

With limited places to go and few people to impress, the vast majority of us have spent more time in pyjamas this last year than we would openly admit. And this wasn’t just for going to sleep. With the pandemic launching us into remote working, we saw countless professionals swap high heels and tailored suits for bed socks and a go-to comfy sweater.

Zoom fatigue saw some of us dress smart on the top half of our bodies. We let our hair and beards grow, and it grew. DIY beauty treatments and home remedies became the only option for many. Emerging research from the field of social psychology has found that more and more of us have revaluated our image over the last year and how we present ourselves. Now more than ever, we are putting comfort and practicality above style. And even better when the two can merge seamlessly.

Fashion retailers have been quick to react, take a stroll around any of Malta’s biggest clothing stores, and you’ll find an abundance of loungewear and elasticated waistbands. Brands are designing more casual apparel to meet demand. Let’s face it, who is going to see you in the same leggings and grey t-shirt for three days in a row? Your family and perhaps the cat. The landscape of dressing for work has changed.

The 80s saw the rise of power dressing, with pinstripe suits, braces, pink shirts, sweater vests and ostentatious displays of wealth in the form of expensive tiepins, cufflinks and extravagantly ruffled pocket squares. For women, it was a brilliant white blouse with a black pencil skirt or and heels. As far as footwear went, the mantra for both sexes was “no brown in town”, with smart, polished black leather virtually mandatory.

Both the rise of fintech and the increasing globalisation have seen styles homogenise across the world, with financiers settling for snug-fitting suits in various grey or blue hues, with ties only mandatory for client meetings.

But 2021 looks set to be the most significant workwear paradigm shift in decades. Across countless Zoom meetings, the barriers between carefully curated work personas and the comfortable chaos of home life have become blurred or even broken. A top US lawyer appearing on a video chat with a judge wearing a filter that made his face into a cat made headlines around the world, but it’s just one example of the mishaps occurring around the world every day; few will have avoided the intrusion of unruly pets or children into their professional sphere.

While suits might not just be thrown out of the boardroom just yet, the aftermath of coronavirus will be with us for decades – perhaps one of the few silver linings of the crisis will be a more sensible, comfortable and practical approach to the way we dress at work. Will you be changing the way you dress to the office?

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