Even prior to 2020, many professionals were eschewing formal work attire in favor of more casual styles. In fact, a 2016 survey revealed that 47% of senior managers said their employees dressed “too casually” for their liking.
But like it or not, athleisure clothing and jeans have become more widely accepted in the American workplace with each passing year. And once COVID-19 forced millions of employees to complete tasks remotely, many employers felt it wasn’t a good use of time to reinforce dress policies.
But now that some of us are returning to the traditional office environment in 2021, it may be time to rethink how we present ourselves to the world. And even if you’re still telecommuting for the foreseeable future, it’s entirely possible that your work from home wardrobe could use a bit of a makeover. Let’s take a closer look at how the concept of dressing for work has changed over the past year, what we can expect to see as we prepare to return to normalcy, and how you can update your outdated wardrobe for post-pandemic work life.
How Has Work Attire Changed During the Pandemic?
As you might expect, comfort proved to be key during the early stages of the pandemic. When widespread lockdowns were first taking place in the U.S., many workers were given the newfound freedom to wear casual clothing during business hours. Exactly a year ago, in May 2020, CNBC reported that the sales of cozy styles (like pajamas and athleisure clothing) skyrocketed. Data showed that online sales of pajamas spiked by a staggering 143% from March to April 2020. On the other end of the spectrum, pants purchases declined by 13% during that same period. Even those who still needed to look presentable and put-together for Zoom meetings were often wearing comfortable pants and leggings, as anything from the waist-down was typically out of frame.
Brands understandably pivoted their marketing to promote more casual, comfortable options, including sweatpants, mens athleisure for work, and other non-restrictive clothing and footwear. Overall, e-commerce sales experienced an upward trend, despite the fact that consumers were staying home as much as possible. But instead of purchasing separate pieces for work and other apparel for home life, many customers sought to combine the two. Since this was a new need for many people, it’s not surprising that money was being spent.
What Styles Can We Expect to See Post-COVID?
By now, you might be accustomed to wearing athleisure clothing most of the time. But market research suggests that Americans are eager to trade in their sweatsuits for dressier clothing to celebrate a return to normalcy.
According to NPD Group, a market research firm, consumers were already starting to ditch their jeans and casual pants purchases for more formal pieces by the end of 2020 and into the early months of 2021. According to the firm’s consumer survey, more than half of U.S. consumers have plans to buy new clothing in 2021. As people return to work and even start to travel again, it’s only natural that they look for new styles for social activities. And since many Americans have reported gaining weight during the pandemic, it also makes sense that they might need some new apparel to help them look their best.
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Which Wardrobe Staples Do You Need?
More than likely, you may already have all the athleisure clothing you need for now. Whether you’re continuing to work remotely or you’re returning to the office, you might want to start making the transition to a more business casual style for both the office and other events.
Now is a great time to purge your closet and donate or sell the pieces that are worn out, no longer fit, or don’t align with your personal style. Once you do a big purge, you’ll be able to determine what you really need — and you’ll have room in your wardrobe for new pieces.
If you know you’ll be attending a wedding or another formal event this summer, it’s a good idea to look at the suits you own and assess whether an upgrade is needed. Don’t have a need for more mens suits right now? You may want to consider getting some new casual trousers for men, some button-up shirts, a blazer or two, and a new pair of dress shoes. It might take some getting used to, but pants without a drawstring waistband will be your post-pandemic best friend. Remember that tailored pieces can make you look coordinated and stylish without a lot of effort. That’s simply not something you’ll get with athleisure clothing. Whether you’re meeting up with your fully vaccinated friends or going on the first date in over a year, you’ll want to feel confident and polished — and a sweatshirt and ripped jeans aren’t going to cut it.
With these insights in mind, you’re in a great position to update your wardrobe for post-pandemic life. To get started, please contact or visit us today.