The year is 2020, do you need reminding, yes we do! Why do you need reminding you ask? Well, let me tell you why… the world as we know it will never be the same, this an undeniable fact of life now. COVID-19’s arrival has changed so much, from the way we work – if we even have work – to the everyday precautions we now take that we didn’t before. For outside observers, if you even venture outside, that is, perhaps nowhere is this shift in our behaviour more visible than in the way we dress.
The pandemic has accelerated our arrival at a new normality that for many of us was already on the horizon. The need to wear a suit and tie to the office was called into question long before the need to go to an office at all was with us. Personally, in my career to date, I’ve worn a suit or shirt and tie combination for a total of 2 out of 15 years, since graduation (dam! I’m old.).
Wider cultural trends have fed into what we wear – from the switch of focus from social functions to working from home to an increased reliance on video calls… whispers ‘zoom fatigue’. But this brave new world has also forced us to consider elements that for many of us were previously completely alien. First and foremost, the face mask, a now essential and functional accessory. Simply, we’re going to have to learn to deal with, and the best of us are embracing with flair.
For me, for sure this collective timeout has allowed me and I’m hoping us to take a step back and think about our wardrobes differently? Sustainability for me has come to the forefront. To invest in clothing that is of superior quality and therefore a longer life cycle. Have you seen this as a chance too to strip away what you don’t need, or work out what you do? I will say as a disclaimer my sneaker collection has continued to grow, to the point the wife forced us to buy a wardrobe for them… if she had tripped over one more pair in the house, I think there would have been a Netflix limited series on my disappearance.
Whether you’re after comfort, durability or simply a sartorial shake-up, here’s my new normal style guidelines.
The Right Way to Wear a Mask
I’m not here to get in a debate about ‘to wear or not to wear’ the advice is there from qualified scientists, I will trust that more than an opinion formed by some googles or a misunderstanding of biology, thanks! Now that’s settled… yes, we’ve all seen the memes of men – and it is more often than not men – wearing everywhere except where it is supposed to be. And, let’s be honest wearing a mask correctly isn’t a difficult skill. However as with every accessory UN, how it fits into an outfit is important; perhaps even more so given that it will likely be the first thing other people notice.
How to Dress for Zoom
We can now all embrace our inner Ms Moira Stuart. Newsreaders have perfected the ability to be camera-ready, sure, on camera, the anchor of the news bulletin is a vision of ‘perfection’, but what lies beneath the shiny desk… bootcut jeans? Hot pants? Nothing at all? Who knows? But as anyone with attention-starved children/pets/postal workers will tell you, sometimes life gets in the way of Zoom meetings. So, while you could fully embrace the “business up top, party below” approach, it pays to also be ready for anything, even if it’s just to sign for a package. It’s entirely possible to wear sweats without being a slouch, in the last 8 months I have adorned jeans/chinos no more than 2/3 times total. Just remember to keep everything in proportion and again think about coordination your tracksuit bottoms with the rest of your clothing.
Is that a bottle of a hand sanitiser in your pocket?
Our worlds may have shrunk, but the amount of stuff we’re expected to lug around with us has grown exponentially. Mask, alcohol gel, gloves, smartphone, water bottle, spare mask, tinned provisions, Necronomicon… Short of turning to a discarded shopping trolley, à la the unnamed lead of The Road (we’re not there just yet), we’re struggling to find stylish ways to carry it all. Thankfully, the fashion industry has your back. Certainly, the collections over recent seasons have witnessed an explosion of storage options for men, from backpacks to belt bags, utility belts to just way more pockets than you’d ever thought you’d find a use for. It’s almost as if they had prior knowledge… At any rate, now you’ve finally got an excuse to own a field jacket with 27 separate compartments, don’t knock it.
Play with oversized proportions
Since social distancing has afforded us all a bit more personal space, why not make the most of it? If you read that as exploring city centres suddenly emptied of citizens, so be it. However, those of a sartorial bent will see it as an opportunity to experiment with styles. Sweats have raised their game, becoming an integral part of the working wardrobe. But equally tailoring is moving to meet somewhere in the middle, embracing more generous cuts and comfortable fabrics. Go big or go home? Well, most of us are home, I know but you know you what I mean.