There is a lot of chat about the future of work: Will we do it at home, or will we revert to commuting to the old traditional workplace?
But there is an additional, different question: What will we wear?
Go to the mirror and look at yourself. Except for the odd Zoom meeting you might have tried to dress for, you are a different person.
The fact is that even a traditionalist like me, who has worn a jacket and tie since his first days of school, is, well, letting down.
Worse, after a year of sweats and other baggy, comfortable clothing, I feel constricted and ill at ease when I put on a suit – which is mainly when I record television programs on Zoom or some other video hook-up.
I suspect that you are like me for these Zoom, or the like, formals; you wear a jacket and jeans or exercise pants, hiding your lower half under a table. Notice how cramped you feel above the waist.
Women, do you remember, putting on full makeup — known in the cosmetic trade as “war paint” – now that you’ve grown accustomed to the au naturel look? Maybe for morale, you wear just a slash of lipstick now and again. Those nice suits in the closet, or flattering dresses, do you remember how confining they were? How hard it was managing that dangling bling?
On that Hallelujah Day when the pandemic is over, will men and women be prepared to get out of those oh-so-comfortable sneakers for Oxfords and pumps?
Was it worth it, yesterday’s clothing? After Covid-19, the way we were isn’t going to be the way it will be. Anyone for going back clotheswise? Or have we been emancipated from wardrobe tyranny and shoe slavery?
There have been various attempts in recent years to dress us down, like Casual Friday. I remember giving a speech at the prestige law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom when they were trying to dress casually all week. The women partners looked miserable; they had made partner, bought Chanel suits, but now they were expected to wear their law school rags. And, oh, the misery of the middle-aged men partners, who had looked to bespoke suits to cover up the expansion of their waists, which had accompanied the collection of fat fees with the advance of age.
The only assault on male fashion before the change agent that is Covid-19 was the abandonment, for reasons unknown, of the poor necktie. What did it do wrong? Let me tell you, no one looks better without them. The naked male throat in a shirt designed for a tie isn’t lovely. Compensation is at hand in a revived interest in the pocket handkerchief or pocket square (which was once used for drying the tears of distressed damsels but is now used for cleaning one’s eyeglasses in the time of #MeToo).
Formality in dress has been under attack for a long time. The tech titans, like Steve Jobs, and rock musicians were the shock troops. No longer do smart restaurants enforce coats and ties for men and look askance at women in pants. Wearing sweats, shorts, sneakers? “Your table is ready, sir or madam.” Ugh!
Going forward, we may be so casualized in dress that we go to church in pajamas and work in anything that covers the body and is comfortable. The god of comfort has conquered the heavens.
I hope that for the sake of everyone, the fashion mavens, goaded on by the magazines like Vogue and GQ, devise a new era of clothes as comfortable as sweats and as flattering as, well, what we used to wear. Meanwhile, if you know anyone who would like to buy some suits (portly), sports coats (Scottish tweed), and shoes (leather lace-up), have them call me. I’m going to get with the new fashion, where comfort is the only criterion.