WFH Wear and When?

Today’s house shoes.

I just finished watching a discussion between Christian Barker and Karl-Edwin Guerre and was struck by two things. One, that both were in signature looks. That makes sense as both men are authorities on communication and the power of style. And two, that I am sitting here in a hoodie and beat up khakis (laundry day and no video meetings.)

Both of which begs the question: will business dress weather the sea change brought about by working from home?

I don’t think that the one day coast-to-coast roundtrip flight to visit a client will be as prevalent as it once was. I see Zoom taking that over in the corporate world. But, as my tailor and I discussed yesterday, that still means looking like a successful business person, at least from the waist up.

Does the birth of the Zoom meeting mean the death of the suit? Yes and no.

I think that a suit will be reserved for Very Important Occasions. (As is the tie these days.) There are certain men who will continue to dress well. Newscasters, for example, who are meant to convey trustworthiness, professionalism, and authority. They may not be wearing trousers, but from the waist up — all business. Heads of State and Congressmen, Parliamentarians, lawyers and the like will continue to be formally dressed for the same reasons. And, #rakesathome will always put forth their stylish best; it’s in their DNA.

But for the majority of the white collar world, I think that COVID-19 may have been the coup de grâce after the killing thrust of the business casual dagger.

However, we’ve all seen the studies that prove that dressing well has a positive effect on productivity, confidence and mood. So we know making an effort pays off.

So what will your business wear look like?

A few paragraphs above I referred to newscasters who need to look professional on camera. I think that they offer a perfect example of the more formal end of the spectrum. If you’re going into a very important meeting, a coat and tie is indispensable. It says that you take this very seriously and it can even the playing field somewhat when opposite a C-Suite executive. (A good trick is to sit on the tail of your coat and keep it buttoned. It keeps you neat for the camera.)

For everyday, I recommend a business casual wardrobe of one or two sportcoats, sweaters, long sleeve polos, tailored shirts and comfortable trousers. And don’t neglect your footwear. While I may not be wearing wingtips (or socks), I do have my house shoes. These are slip-ons like loafers, drivers, Belgian Shoes and Kilim slippers. Wearing work clothes helps you to separate your workday hours from your off-hours, and will have you at the ready for an unscheduled Facetime call from your team.

Default to t-shirts and shorts all the time and the days will begin to blur together. Walking away from your computer and changing into your after-work clothing sends a clear signal that it’s ok to start to unwind. Take it from a long-time work-from-homer, set some boundaries. (Laundry day aside.)

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Yes Ma’am, We Will Prevail.

From a regent who first broadcast her support for those separated from loved ones in 1940, comes this message of hope. I like to think that the Britons’s “self-discipline, quiet good-humoured resolve and fellow feeling” is matched by our American spirit of can-do, and our ability to band together to prevail against seemingly impossible odds. Look at the companies that have re-tooled to pump out gowns, masks, and ventilator parts. Look at the super-human efforts of our first responders. Take your cues from them. Do what you can, when you can. Even if it’s just dropping a line to distant friends or waving at neighbors. We’re all in this together.

We may be invariably late to the party, but when the chips are down the world has always counted on us to rise up and do the right thing. Yes, this is a tough time, but it’s been a tough fight since this country was founded, and we’re more than up to the struggle. Let’s not forget that America. Together we win.

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The Scarf and the New Rules of Dressing During the Pandemic

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. Source: CDC

Those of you who have followed me for a long time or have read a copy of my book know that I’m a huge fan of scarves. In these dress-down days, they throw a little personality and color into the casual world. They also make great travel gear as you can use them for everything from staying warm to an impromptu picnic blanket.

These days they may become even more useful. The shemagh, or keffiyeh, worn below was brought back for me from Bahrain by my brother-in-law after a tour there during the last war. I was reminded of it when Mrs. E., my mom and I took the children to Israel and Jordan last summer. They are the traditional Bedouin head-covering and were much in evidence. Unfortunately, outside of the Middle East, or at least here in Central Virginia, they can arouse suspicion when worn covering the mouth and nose. I just shook up my neighbor when I looked over the back fence.

Never thought I’d need to use this…

The concept is a good one though, so if you’re going to take a step past the bandana, remember that a lightweight scarf is a welcome addition to the world.

Here’s a nice looking one from The Rake’s Values line. As a neighbor shouted to me the other day, stay safe, sanitized and sane. And remember to have a little fun.

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