If you’re one of the many people who, post-Covid, now has a hybrid work pattern – entailing a mix of working at home and in the office – you may be finding it harder to choose what to wear each day given these blurred home:work distinctions.
Even if you don’t have a hybrid work pattern, it’s fair to say that work dress codes have generally become more relaxed. In years gone by you may have had a more formal looking work wardrobe, whereas ‘business casual’, ‘smart casual’ or even just ‘casual’ is the order of the day now. Hence the types of clothes you wear for work may perhaps feel more like those you would previously have only been wearing at home.
Here are a few thoughts and tips on how to elevate your hybrid work wardrobe and at the same time make life easy!
1. Remember that your personal brand is always on show
Whether you’re on a Teams/Zoom call from home or interacting with people in an office, what you wear tells people about you – it communicates your ‘personal brand’. You may want to adopt a more relaxed sense of dress, but we all pick up on visual clues. If you look particularly dishevelled/scruffy there’s a chance that people may think that you are less organised/efficient, for example. As is often said, showing people that you care is simply a sign of respect.
So, by all means dress your top half and wear more relaxed bottoms (even your PJs if you want to!) so long as you’re absolutely certain that you are not going to have to stand up!
2. Dress for impact on online meetings
I’ve written more on this topic in a previous blog – keyboard dressing – but essentially it’s all about choosing tops and accessories that help you to create impact and in turn get seen and heard when you’re thinking about your online meeting wardrobe.
Wearing colour is an easy way to do this. The tops below are all from the same retailler – Whistles – just to show that you can wear an ordinary white blouse which tends to look a bit bland (and can wash you out if your colouring suits stronger colours) or you can choose a coloured blouse and stand out. (As you’ll also know, wearing colour has the added benefit of lifting your mood too, so if you’re suffering from Zoom/Teams fatigue or just feeling a little low, wearing something colourful can definitely help).
Be careful of wearing a lot of black too – if it’s not a colour in your palette it can cast dark shows under your chin and emphasise darkness in other areas, eg. dark circles under your eyes. In a similar vein, it’s worth ramping up the colour in your make-up too as screens tend to make us look more drained. A stronger lipstick and more defined eyes can work wonders.
If you don’t know which colours of clothes and shades of make-up suit you, you can book your online or in-person colour consultation here: Colour Consultations.
3. Think about the levels of refinement in your outfits
If you are a savvy shopper, there is no reason why you can’t wear similar tops to those that you wear for your online meetings when thinking about outfits for in-person meetings and/or days in the office. It may simply be a case of upping the level of refinement of the items that you choose to wear.
The example above shows how you can keep to a similar colour palette but simply elevate your look by considering different levels of refinement:
- Outfit 1, a t-shirt and jeans combination, is perhaps totally fine for days when you are working from home and aren’t visible.
- Outfit 2 shows how the addition of a scarf can ‘dress up’ the t-shirt for online meetings and/or you can switch to smarter trousers to elevate the look for an in-person meeting perhaps.
- Substituting the t-shirt for a blouse, but keeping to jeans on the lower half (Outfit 3), is again great for an online meeting.
- Outfit 4 takes it up a notch for a face-to-face meeting or day in the office with smarter trousers, jacket, shoes and bag.
If you are someone who likes to be more dressed up for work – either because this suits your personal brand, style personality or because your clothes provide a useful mindset trigger that you are in ‘work mode’, then it may well be that a t-shirt and jeans just doesn’t feel smart enough for you for anything work-related. If so, you may prefer to substitute the t-shirt for a smarter jersey top or relaxed blouse and maybe choose chino or stretchy ponte type trousers that are still reasonably casual but a step up from jeans, for example.
A lot depends, of course, on the type of industry you work in, your job role, your style personality, how you wish to be perceived (your personal brand) and exactly what you will be doing during the day. Thinking about different levels of refinement and how they can change your look can be the answer, so it is well worth taking the time to think it through.
4. Organise your wardrobe
We all have different ways of organising things so there is no ‘right’ way, but it can be helpful to keep your work clothes all together so that you don’t open your wardrobe and get that feeling of overwhelm and decision fatigue each morning.
If you like this idea, simply choose a section of your wardrobe for ‘work clothes’ and then hang them so that they are grouped into types of item (trousers, skirts, dresses, tops etc) and then within each category within colour order (light to dark). This should enable you to easily see what you have and put together outfits more easily.
If you are able to have your accessories (scarves, belts, jewellery etc.) somewhere visible that is also very useful in prompting outfit ideas.
Finally, and I know this may sound like a bit of effort, but take photographs of the outfits you like when you wear them. Over time this builds a catalogue of outfits for you to choose from. You can also lay them out the night before. Hey presto, both of these activities will mean no more head scratching in the morning!
5. Develop a capsule work wardrobe
I’m not going to go into huge detail here, as I’ve written about capsule wardrobes many times before – you can check out previous blogs here – but having a wardrobe that contains less clothes but that all mix and match to create multiple outfits, is definitely the way to make things easy.
The one shown above contains just 23 items of clothes plus accessories and makes 6 weeks worth of different outfits. You can see all the outfits and read more here – Blue/red/pink capsule (NB/ there are 23 pieces not 27 as it says in that blog – clearly I couldn’t add up!). Whilst this capsule wasn’t specifically created for a hybrid work pattern, the principles are just the same.
It is well worth taking the time to have a look through your existing wardrobe to see if you can create a capsule work wardrobe. Or if you like more choice, you could create one for your ‘online meetings’, one for ‘days in the office’ and maybe another for ‘new client meetings’ if you would dress any differently for those, for example. In doing the exercise, you might find that you only need one or two new things to help bring everything together and create weeks’ worth of outfits like in the example above. This will be much less expensive, and better for the environment, than buying a whole new wardrobe or even lots of individual things that don’t go together.
I love creating capsule wardrobes, so do get in contact if you think this could be helpful: Capsule Wardrobe.