David Sable Asks, Is Our Pandemic Wardrobe Getting in the Way of Return to Office?

  • By digitaldiary
  • in ,
  • on June 29, 2021

As originally published by David Sable on Linkedin. Subscribe to the newsletter!

As I ponder all the debate and discussion around people returning to offices, and as I watch restaurants fill and parks overflow and stores and concerts and even movie theaters begin to come back to life. I wonder…

I wonder, what is really behind the reticence to even want to accept a hybrid work week? Is it the commute? A fear of infection or crime in some cities? Is it a lack of efficiency? A desire not to have any distractions? Or is it that I hate the office? The culture. The set-up. The politics.

Some more cynical than I (hard to believe, I know), have suggested that people are getting paid more to stay out than come back. It’s summer and come mid-August, people will be looking for jobs and ready to go back. Playing this for all it’s worth, perhaps some are thinking, “why go back if they don’t demand it?”​ And on and on.

I have had a revelation. A flash of insight that I think answers this question, and I’ve decided to share it in the hopes that it can help both employee and employer come to a meeting of the minds, or more literally, put a meeting of asses in seats.

The real problem, the real issue is…I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR!

That’s it. Simple. We have a sartorial drama manifesting itself in indecision, lethargic behavior and worst of all, FASHION FEAR. Who wants to get called out by the Clothes Police, the Fabric Shamers, the Wardrobe Bullies—you get the point.

You see, we have spent a year plus lounging in our PJs and sweats. We have Zoomed in our underwear with an appropriate top, of course, (causing one or two legendary slip ups as we all know). Shoes? Dresses? Suits? Ties? What are those?

For over a year, all we bought were loose fitting comfortable clothing. And it worked. We all wore them. Those in a more fortunate financial position, in fact, spent much of their quarantine shopping online. It seems many of us bought everything, EXCEPT what we once wore to the office.

Our closets are now full of hoodies and yoga pants. And you want me to come back to work…wearing what, exactly?

Truth is sales of back to office clothing is upPeople are starting to wrestle with the notion of needing to rethink, to draw a line in the sand between sitting in my home half-hidden and being back in the office in full sight.

I also find it fascinating to see folks who are out and about dressed to be out and about (not like we were during the worst of the Plague, even if we ventured gingerly outdoors). Then again, maybe it’s because we were covered by masks and big coats, traveling incognito through the abandoned streets of our respective neighborhoods.

Three-quarters of all shoppers (75 percent) say they’re looking forward to shopping for new clothes in a physical retail location, according to Cotton Incorporated’s Coronavirus Response Consumer Survey (Wave 6, May 19th, 2021). Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said they really missed shopping for clothes in-store. And 61 percent of respondents said shopping for clothes online is a poor substitute for shopping at a retail location.

So, what can we do to help?

How about if employers, instead of having bands in the parking lot and free Uber rides, invited retailers to the office for a personalized fashion consultation or gave gift certificates to stores like American Eagle (selfish plug…I’m on the board).

Bottom line, take the angst out of dressing for the office. It’s cheaper than therapy! The good it can do will last longer than an Uber ride.

To quote one of my favorite sources and PC Cops (please forgive the gender skew):

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”— Mark Twain

And there you have it…

Go buy a new outfit and help change the world. What do you think?

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