Gone are the days of workplace dress codes and haute couture. If people love flexibility with their time, they love flexibility/ comfort with their clothes even more. If you hear undertones about returning to work, part of the problem is 'what to wear' or 'I cannot wear formals anymore!' or ‘can I wear my PJs to work, please.’
In what I call a no-fuss era, people don’t much care about how they look, rather how they feel about themselves. If that means, they can make a statement with what they wear and gain confidence, they will do that and not really adhere to any dress code, because, ‘who cares?’ Fashion has to reflect who you are and what you feel at the moment - it is too personal to conform to.
So, when we spoke to people about their return to work attire, here is what we heard.
Zoom-face for small talk: Pooja Sriram, Brand Marketing at ChargeBee recently went out shopping for her birthday and picked a pair of diamond earrings over pretty clothes. Why? “We work remotely and all my colleagues can see is my Zoom-face, so why not flaunt a new pair of earrings.” Pooja also told us about one of her colleagues who has coloured her hair blue and someone else who wears statement T-shirts to create ice breakers on zoom calls. She goes on to mention how looking good is all about makeup and good-lighting today, rather than really ‘dressing-up’ for in-person meetings. ‘In an era, where we can see all our facial expressions, everyone is caught up with how we look on zoom and not really IRL (in real life),’ she says.
Comfort over variety: Rashi Singh, works at a startup crafting fitness wear for women. Personally, she prefers comfort-wear. Rashi talks about the concept of ‘transition-clothes’, clothes that can help you transition the different activities of your day. For example: pairing a legging and T-shirt that can be comfortable for the office, yet easy to wear to the gym. For women’s wear there is more focus on features than design - more pockets in dresses, pants, jackets or minimalism and T-shirts. Rashi says, ‘Casual dressing is overtaking formal clothes’, - she concludes - ‘if there is something I can roll off my bed and wear to work, I’d love that!’
Hassle-free and relaxed wear picking up: Leesha Agarwal, who runs Adah by Leesha, a handloom clothing D2C brand, talks about the evolution of male fashion, ‘men are wearing more floral prints and printed shirts in general these days. I have also noticed GenZ (men) wearing more jewellery like chains and studs,’ she says. Cotton, as a fabric, is picking up and so is handloom wear that is hassle free, comfortable and stylish. For women’s pain points like lining, pockets and silhouettes, designers are paying attention to detail. Leesha says, ‘no one is dressing for the world anymore, you dress for yourself and your comfort.’
Says Suhas Motwani, who is known best for his floral shirt trend on Twitter (among other things), “I enjoy wearing floral designs, I love their patterns, but did n’t realise it would spark a trend. However, I do believe this is a phase and tomorrow there might be some other new pattern - thankfully we are open to experimenting”
Emerging sustainable fabrics: The way people carry their masks, sanitisers are also all about making statements. ‘Odourless attire is in demand and we have a whole range,’ says Sonal Agarwal, Cofounder and Head of Design at D2C brand, Campus Sutra. She continues, ‘people’s mindset has changed. People have introspected and realised they have to consume less, hence sustainability is gaining prominence - both with food and clothes.’ The brand is innovating with fabrics like recycled plastics and cotton that are doing very well.
In a world of flux, where there is too much focus on the outside, the least we can do is dress for ourselves and love ourselves more than yesterday (or at least an hour ago). So, dressing is all about expressions and no longer impressions.