Will suits be banished? Is a more relaxed style more desirable in the office now? Top Savile Row tailor Alexandra Wood considers the trends and suggests how to dress for work
Due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the working world and its wardrobe, how will men dress for work now that workplaces are starting to operate as normal?
Pubs and restaurants opened in England from July 4 and our social game is slowly being switched back on. Will the world be crawling out from under their lockdown rocks with more hair than a Neanderthal and a dress sense that would make Jeremy Clarkson look well sartorially saintly? And will this trigger a new wave of dressing and will the suit now be firmly placed in its fashion coffin?
Research from Mintel has shown that the ordering and manufacturing of suits has dropped considerably during the lockdown, which probably comes as no great surprise. We’ve not only seen the hottest spring and now summer in human history, where a shorts-and-t-shirt combination is likely a welcomed choice right now. Will this lockdown trend affect how you dress for work now that people are returning to their offices, albeit slowly?
The Telegraph took a look at the viewpoint that as the suit is a little more complicated to clean on a regular basis than other more practical items and given that the virus can live on fabrics and metals for possibly days, that this may become a step too far in terms of maintenance for even the most avid of suit wearers.
Dress For Work
It will be interesting to see whether people will be eager to get back into their suits and start enjoying them once more or if they will be ditching them for good. When we talk about people dressing to show their personality, work plays a huge role in this. How most of us have dressed at home during this time is most likely not particularly transferrable to how we will be dressing when life goes back to a resemblance of normality, so is it time to start getting your wardrobe work-ready – even if it’s not so you’re welcomed into the local pub.
We suggest gearing up towards re-organising your wardrobe set for an autumn come back. There’s no doubt about it: the way we view suits and wear them has changed massively over the years even without COVID-19 rearing its ugly head. With a move over to the smart/casual image in order to look more approachable at work and for comfort reasons. Yes, you still have the classic navy and charcoal suits worn for serious business meetings, to weddings and other events. However, what we have seen in more recent years is a movement towards a more casual choice: cotton suits, seersucker and even cord has made a comeback but not of the history teacher ilk, but softer and more comfortable.
Dressing For Occasions
The British culture is made for occasions, particularly in the summer, with Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and Goodwood to name but three. This is when men wear suits, add the splash of colour to their sports jacket and experiment and dress like peacocks – not when working from home where no one cares, frankly. Of course, there is how you personally feel about how you get dressed in the morning, but for most it’s a case of what’s comfortable and allows them to crack on with work right now.
How we dress affects the working mindset. There is the whole psychology of dressing well and Working Frocks explores why looking good is strategy, not vanity. The article says how we dress for work not only says a lot about how we feel about ourselves, but how others evaluate us. This is certainly something to consider when going back into the working world.
At Alexandra Wood we ran a poll on our social media accounts asking if they were wearing casual clothing or business as usual, and it was a definite 50-50 split. We predict that it’ll be a slow approach to dressing like we used to and that more comfortable choices will be made until formalities come back into play.
New Wardrobe Needed?
Items should include smart raincoats – as there’ll always be rain, and dog-walking – investment knitwear to layer your new smart/casual look going into autumn, smart-yet-comfortable trousers along with high-quality, well-fitted staple, cotton T-shirts.
Most will be sporting masks as it will be required to wear a facial mask on public transport and enclosed spaces. There are medical options and there are the more aesthetically pleasing stylish options available. Hey, maybe even matching shirts and masks may be the new wave of style coming.
It could go one way or another in terms of how to dress for work. We could find men suddenly dressing to the nines, enjoying every dapper moment and opportunity there is or will it be a no, thanks, I’m good in my casual wear. Time will only tell.