Every morning when I wake up, my first thoughts lie with making a cup of coffee, not on what to wear that day. This is a reversal from the many years of a working life, where the pace of the early morning was always fast and the day’s clothing might be decided and perhaps even laid out the night before.
These days, while staying at home, the choices about what to wear have become much easier. I have yoga pants, sweatpants, hiking pants, tights, and an assortment of shirts, long-sleeved athletic tees, sweatshirts, and sweaters. Whether I am going on a walk, hike, trip to the grocery store, or attending Pilates and Feldenkrais classes on Zoom, most of my go-to wardrobe is interchangeable. If Athleta or Lululemon does not have it, I probably don’t need it.
As more people work from home during the pandemic, there are many stories about types of malfunctions that can occur while working on Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or other video-conferencing applications. Barking dogs, toddlers invading the home office, and yes, wardrobe malfunctions, are all common accidents. So be careful if you work in pajama bottoms or shorts below a dress shirt or blouse, and remember to use the mute button and turn the camera off if you need to leave your chair!
Back in the day, my first employer had a dress code. Dresses, not skirts and sweaters, were required, and had to be in one of the authorized colors: black, navy blue, beige, or brown. No prints, stripes, or bold patterns. Definitely no slacks! In the months before I started working as a sales manager at the now defunct Emporium department store, the dress code loosened up to include olive green as an appropriate color. High heels, a killer at any age, were also a must.
Although my subsequent jobs have not had such rigid requirements, I have been a conservative dresser most of my life. But fashions have changed since I retired, and the dresses and jackets and suits that hang in my closet are not often needed. It seems unlikely, given that many executives and staff at tech companies work in jeans, boots, turtlenecks, and hoodies, that traditional fashion will return soon to this industry. What to wear undoubtedly remains important, just in new and different ways.
This week’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris brought new and welcome attention to color and style. The gentlemen, with the exception of Senator Bernie Sanders’ iconic beige parka and fuzzy knitted mittens, were dressed mostly in dark suits and coats, updated classics by top designers. The colors worn by the women – yellow, raspberry, blue, purple – were bold, from Vice President Kamala Harris’s regal purple coat and dress to Dr. Jill Biden’s gorgeous robin egg blue tweed dress and coat, sparkling with crystals. The young Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman was resplendent in a canary yellow coat and red headpiece, delivering a powerful message of rebuilding and recovery through her poetry as her slender fingers created an elegant ballet in the chilly air. This will be a hard-working administration but they made their debut with style and flair.
Classic fashion is never really out of style, but rather, updates itself in cycles. One does not need to look far to see that the styles of the 50s and 60s are present in today’s fashions. Shirtwaist dresses with wide collars, pencil skirts, and cardigans all have origins in those decades. Even today’s fashionable eyeglasses are reflective of that earlier time.
As comfortable as I am today in leisure and workout clothing, I look forward to a pandemic-free future when one might dress for a special occasion. What to wear will become a welcome question once again.
Children Interrupt BBC Interview. BBC News, March 10, 2017
Fashion Diplomacy Returns at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Inauguration by Katey Rich. Vanity Fair, Jan. 20, 2021
A Poetic Star Turn at Capitol by Tony Bravo. San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2021
Wikipedia. The Emporium