So much for wearing pajamas back in the office.
As workers around the country return to the office due to decreasing cases of the coronavirus, the latest sign that life is getting back to normal comes with workers leaving their comfy sweats at home and gearing up with new work clothes as the workforce shifts its focus back to business casual.
Is business casual back?
The Wall Street Journal reported that shoppers are returning to stores — and retailers are seeing booms that predate the pandemic.
While athleisure was all the rage as Americans worked remotely during the pandemic, LL Bean said pants with buttons and zippers have started to outsell drawstrings or elastic waistband models. Similarly, Saks Fifth Avenue reported that dresses, blouses and sandals are flying off the shelves at levels that date back to spring 2019, according to the report.
“The fact that sales came back so strongly, so quickly before reopened speaks to the need for people to dress up as they get out there and socialize,” offices Michael Stitt, Haggar Clothing CEO, said via WSJ.
Hagger Clothing said that workers at its distribution center are putting in extra work to meet the demand of trousers and blazers at both its department stores and other retailers.
Levi Strauss & Co. — one of the best companies to work for right now — said shoppers are targeting “mom jeans,” trading slimmer cuts for more comfort, the paper reported.
What will office style look like moving forward?
It’ll be interesting to see what people will wear as offices around the country begin reopening. Americans gained a lot of weight during quarantine, and many wonder what companies will require from its employees in terms of fashion.
It’s been widely speculated that the days of business casual are no more since the biggest priority for many is making sure their employees feel comfortable and safe working in the office, which may even include working with people who did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wall Street, a demand for pandemic comfort has infiltrated what was once a bastion of the old-school suit and tie. Reuters reported that a worker at a hedge fund recently had his first in-person meeting since the pandemic and opted to wear athletic pants, in what he deemed “business comfortable.”
“It was very casual and I went in Lulus,” the worker said, referring to Lululemon.
One in three workers said they would pass up an extra $5,000 for a more relaxed dress code at work. Perhaps workers won’t have to forgo extra cash in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.