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Will Casual Business Attire For Women Be The New Normal?

Homeworking has relaxed work attire, but some trends could be here to stay even as many return to the office. Casual business attire for women is rising as we find ourselves in the new normal of office work.

The Rise Of Hybrid Working

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work in 2020 and has forced most US office workers into a large-scale Work-From-Home experiment. Employers and employees alike have been able to experience just how effective Work-From-Home can be.

It is no wonder then that many companies have announced to make increased home office a permanent change in the way they are working. Whether a return to the office is on the horizon, WFH is here to stay.

Besides, people will increasingly work in different work settings, such as smaller satellite offices away from city-center HQs or co-working spaces. As a result, hybrid working situations will emerge: Zoom meetings, less personal interaction, and remote workingcasual business attire for women arrangements characterize the new normal in office life.

The Pandemic Accelerates The Trend For Casual Business Attire

Hybrid working will increasingly characterize the way we work in the future. Dressing for work is not untouched either. With remote working becoming the new normal, most of the work currently happens in less formal clothing.

“According to a poll from market research group NPD, only 10% of people get dressed for working from home at the start of the day and then change into comfortable clothes later.” (The Guardian, July 2020)

The pandemic only accelerates a trend that has existed before: dress codes have relaxed for a while, with casual business attire for women on the rise for the last few years.

Millennials, who are now the largest group in the country’s workforce, have previously driven this trend alongside big tech companies such as Apple or Facebook and start-ups.

People are allowed to come to work in jeans and hoodies all week. Only half of the workplaces now have a dress code, and the move towards casual office-wear means such dress codes have been widened to take in what is and isn’t acceptable when dressing down.

Even conservative institutions, such as banks, have recently relaxed their dress code, asking staff to exercise “good judgment” in what they wore.

Read: 5 Awesome Tips About How To Wear Leggings To Work

Whereas this accelerating trend might not mean swapping the tracksuit for a suit, more athletic and casual pieces will probably seep into our work wardrobes.

Besides, while working from home, we have become more comfortable and versatile, and I believe work dress codes will adapt with these interests in mind.

Read: Comfortable Office Clothes – 5 Tips For Working Moms

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Dressing Appropriately For Work Remains Important

Although the popularity of business casual attire will increase, dressing for work – in my opinion – will remain important.

It allows you to retain an image of professionalism – this is no different whether you are on camera or “Life” at the office. It also makes you feel more confident and conveys respect to others, gives you credibility.

Dressing up for work when working from home is extremely important since there is no physical change of location to put you into “work mode”. Wearing proper business attire will help you shift your mind to “work” and make you more productive.

As a recent article on The Ladders states: “By dressing appropriately for meetings, whether in the office or via Zoom video calls, you also project a professional image and understanding of the business culture.”

Read: 10 most inappropriate office clothes.

Read: how the right business attire can help you gain trust, respect, and acceptance.

Casual Business Attire For Women – Here Are Some Of The Things You Can Wear In the New Normal

Casual business attire seems the ideal new hybrid solution to office wear. Tech companies and start-ups have practiced this casual business attire for womenfor a few years now with casual office styles that combine simple jeans with more formal pieces such as a blazer. They are great for work and play and ideal for the new hybrid working world!

With lots of us wearing activewear during our home office days, this trend might rise and might become acceptable office wear in the new normal.

More work outfits will blend dressing up and dressing down, and wearing the same attire will become more accepted. Tighter budgets, too, will lead to greater interest in basic and neutral pieces.

I believe plain and simple items will be on the rise and recommend maximum comfort and versatility for home and office. There is no need to invest in expensive and formal office wear now, but you can easily stay trendy by updating your office wardrobe with a few simple pieces.

Read: Instantly Trendy Fall Fashion For Work

Retailers are stocking evergreen items like plain T-shirts, jeans, and khaki pieces. Joggers and leggings are selling well, and trendy colors are staying on the shelves.

I recommend sticking to comfortable and versatile, easy-to-wash clothing made from high-quality fabrics such as cotton or linen. Hybrid clothing such as pants that work for yoga and the office, polo shirts for work, and a run are just examples of great casual workwear choices.

That is precisely the kind of workwear I have recommended, as these kinds of things make it so much easier to dress right for work and play with the kids.

Read: 5 Awesome Women Business Clothing stores.

casual business attire for women

A completely new addition to the work wardrobe will off course, be the matching face mask. At the beginning of the pandemic, people chose simple surgical masks.

As we realize that masks are here to stay, we will increasingly look for different colors and styles to find mas that match our outfits and express our personality.

Find face masks in work-appropriate styles on Ann Taylor

It remains to be seen how the pandemic affects shoe styles. I expect there to be far less interest in high heels and that more comfortable shoes will rise. Smart sneakers would be the ideal hybrid office companions.

Find more casual business wardrobe choices here: What Is Casual Dress For Work

The choice of casual attire is so high that ‘work from home pajamas’ is officially a thing on the net. They are nothing but our everyday loungewear, but you can see the marketing linked here with the demand and trend.

Casual Business Attire For Women Is Here To Stay

The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards casual business attire in recent months. With hybrid working situations on the rise, I believe the movement is here to stay.

Whereas more comfortable and relaxed clothing will probably be acceptable at the workplace, I firmly believe that dressing for work will remain important: it increases productivity and professionalism and sets your mind into “work mode”. If you invest in comfortable yet versatile pieces and combine them with some of your more formal office wear, you cannot go wrong.

What will be the new normal for business attire, in your opinion? Please leave a comment below; I would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, make sure to leave me a comment, and I will be happy to help you.

All the best,

Drea

Sources:

The Guardian (July 2020): “’The Zoom shirt’: how the pandemic changed work dress codes

The Ladders (May 2020): This is what business attire will look like in a post-COVID-19 world

 

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Drea

Image copyright: feel image / Matern

8 Comments

  1. Hi Drea, and thanks for such an interesting article. Many things you say resonate with me. I work from home and I found that dressing in a smart-causal way affects my productivity. But if I have a day when I ‘can’t be bothered’ and wear the type of clothes that don’t look cry smart, I find that my drive for work diminishes, and I am much more tempted to look for things on Amazon or watch Youtube videos unrelated to my work. On the other hand, I’m glad that the very strict dress code is now more relaxed in many workplaces. Obviously, I don’t think we will see air-hostesses in hoodies any time soon (he he), but I like to see people in banks, for example, to look a bit more relaxed. One question: Do you think the face mask will be replaced by face shields? With a shield, you can still smile at people, although I can’t tell what’s safer.
    Thanks again for such an interesting read!

    • Hello Lucie, thank you very much for your comment. It is interesting to hear your perspective, especially since you have first-hand experience in your profession. Great question about the face shields! You are right. They are way better for human interaction because you can actually see when they are smiling at you. However, another important factor is whether the face mask effectively prevents the virus from spreading, and face shields don´t seem to provide adequate protection. Actually, some European countries are discussing forbidding them altogether in workplaces with lots of customer interaction. So, while I think they look good and are good for human interaction, I don´t think they are here to stay.

  2. Yes, as the Coronavirus has forced us to work from home, we have had to adapt to not wearing a suit and tie. But then again, I think that’s only true if you don’t have to go to a meeting with clients. All meetings during the pandemic have been on Zoom. And companies, although lenient regarding how we dress when working from home, do insist on people dressing up when it comes to meeting with clients on Zoom.  Casual business attire is here to stay. Casual business attire means no more expensive cleaners bill. Then again, I work from home, and I found that dressing in a smart-causal way affects my productivity. I won’t be wearing a suit at home and definitely not in the office anymore.

    • Hi Shalisha, it´s great to get your perspective on the ´new normal´ new normal for women´s business attire. It sounds like your experience is similar to what I have found. I agree with you about the point you have raised about client meetings and productivity. It is worth investing in some smart casual items for a professional and polished look on Zoom.

  3. Yes, I think casual business attire will be the new normal, for both men and women. In fact, I think working from home will become the new normal.

    So I suppose you can wear anything you want, really, unless of course one feels that he or she is more productive in business attire, and of course you’ll want to wear something more formal when you attend a video conference.

    • Hello Clark, I totally agree with you – the way we work is just undergoing a massive revolution, and work-from-home will likely be the norm in a much higher number of offices than today. Besides that, many companies will work in hybrid work situations, partly from home, partly from a shared office space or a head office. As it is common in a crisis, fashion will also change, and naturally, business attire will be affected. I do find that making a difference between your “workwear” and your casual wear, even when working 100% from home, makes a difference to your mindset. But just as with office spaces, hybrid solutions will emerge. The trend is definitely towards more casual business attire for women, yet some very stylish options are still available. See my review of Ann Taylor Business clothing as an example. Thanks for your comment, Clark. All the best, Drea

  4. Thank you for this excellent article. I love casual chic for women. Jill Sander had this style, which works well with a sales talk. I also have no problems with good leggings, a long classic shirt, and blazers. For men, it doesn’t have to be a business suit and tie, during home office you can also be serious wearing a nice shirt and blazer, of course, the material has to have quality.

    • Hey Monique, great to have your insight, thank you very much! I like your suggestion about leggings, a long classic shirt, and a blazer – a perfect outfit for the new normal of business dressing. If you are into leggings, you might find the following post useful: How To Wear Leggings For Work.

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