By Dena Lythgoe, Senior Account Executive & Partner
I don’t know about you, but I have worn more active gear without actually being more active since March 2020. COVID being the main cause for virtual meetings has helped create a new style definition, ‘below the shoulder’ attire. We have all seen the horrible faux paus of the individuals who didn’t think the camera was on, followed quickly by commercials portraying the difficulties of working virtually while wearing pants. I am not afraid to admit, I too am guilty of succumbing to ‘below the shoulder’ attire and lean towards comfort versus style.
I have asked around and have come to the realization that, if people don’t go to work, they don’t wear dress pants or, in some reported cases, pants at all. If given the choice would you wear slacks when leggings, sweatpants, or shorts would be an acceptable option? The COVID- 19 pandemic has created a surge in options for lounge wear and while jeggings is no longer a new concept more and more designers are coming up with accommodations for the growing desire to look professional while also being comfortable. This has created an explosion in the fashion world to fill the growing desire for what is known as athleisure wear.
Athleisure wear is a hybrid style that can be worn to multiple locations such as the gym, casual outings and to work without necessarily having to change from one location to the next. Well, maybe a gym change depending on the workout, but hey, we’ve all done it. Numerous people working from home have chosen this garb over the more professional look and while some embrace the change in fashion others who tend to be more formal do not.
I work in a professional setting where throughout the years the office has become more relaxed regarding professionalism attire. In the last 15 years we have changed and in many cases for the better. Ten years ago men used to wear suit, dress shirt and tie every day but Friday when they could remove the tie for ‘casual Friday. ‘Jean days’ were awarded as special days for doing something above and beyond and you must turn in your paper ticket for a manager to approve. I will never forget the conversations regarding footwear. Open toed shoes were only allowed because the manager liked to wear them herself. If you chose to go this route and show toes, it was well known you must have manicured feet. Yes, I could say times have definitely changed.
Eventually people will be going back to office settings and, while there is talk of the new normal looming in all areas of life, will the professional attire for an office setting become even more relaxed? Don’t get me wrong sweatpants and leggings are great, but there is something about getting dressed up that makes me feel ready to take on challenges and face the day. When I have bright red lips along with bright red pants, my head is held higher and my confidence doesn’t waiver. But just as the definition of power suit has changed will perception of professional attire be thwarted by Athleisure wear?