How I fell out of love with jogging pants
During lockdown, many people have had deeply spiritual revelations about their values, their priorities and their direction in life.
I, on the other hand, have experienced the blinding revelation that I am not a woman designed for jogging pants.
For many, the lack of any sort of requirement to dress up each day has come as a blessed relief. And if you’re the sort of person who will happily take a Zoom call in a hastily flung together ensemble of pyjama top and bobbly leggings, then I salute you. You are clearly far more evolved than me and blessed with an inner confidence that does not require matching earrings and shoes.
I, on the other hand, have always enjoyed the boost that comes from a well-chosen outfit, matched to the tone and content of the talk I’m presenting. It’s not an entirely frivolous consideration. When you’re presenting, your audience will start sizing you up before you even open your mouth. It’s much easier to look than to listen so the not-quite-right outfit will always create something of a distraction.
But now that we all live in our little on-screen boxes, I’ve been thinking about whether any of this matters. Are those adverts for ‘the perfect top to wear on a Zoom call’ really on to something or can we rock up in a faded football shirt and crack on?
For many of us, clothes help to kick us into a work mindset and perhaps more importantly, can signal the switch from on to off time that’s always harder when working from home. But if you look at your work wardrobe and it’s full of suits or smart dresses, here are a few thoughts about adapting to the new sartorial normal:
Dial it down: Whilst it’s not necessary to dress exactly as you might do for a face to face meeting or presentation, try not to take it down more than one level. If, for example, you’d normally wear a suit and tie, go for a well-ironed shirt rather than a t-shirt.
Avoid visual clutter: Dangly earrings, fussy scarves, dark lipstick or complex patterns will all draw the eye when they can’t be absorbed within the context of an entire outfit. Keep it simple or risk your entire weekly update being hijacked by a multi-coloured necklace.
Allow for the camera: Cameras in general aren’t great at handling extremes of light and dark within the same shot. Either the lightest bits are so bright they outshine everything else in the frame, or the darkest bits lose all detail and become a featureless void. As I’m guessing ‘featureless void’ is not the look you’re going for, this means avoiding white or black tops in favour of a single block colour. Be aware of necklines – if the camera is positioned slightly above you, your colleagues may end up become over-familiar with your cleavage. However, too high – a turtleneck for example – and you risk looking like a floating head.
Remember the details: In my first six months back at work after maternity leave, I had a colleague on permanent watch for flecks of baby vomit on my work clothes. Those days are long gone, but it’s still worth paying attention to the details. If you have long hair, it may fall across your face when you lean forward, so tie it back. Make sure what you’re wearing is ironed or at the very least doesn’t look like you’ve just plucked it from the laundry basket.
The overall aim is for people to listen to you, not to your outfit. But there’s no avoiding the fact that clothes will always give hints about who you are. Make sure you’re hinting fabulous, and then get on with the business of proving it.