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Work From Home - Casual or Spiffy?

Work from home - causal or spiffy?

While the global pandemic has a stranglehold on the world's economies, the work for companies still continues. The "Work From Home" (WFH) lifestyle should not be an after-thought when it comes to presentations, team meetings with new clients/prospects, interviews, and so on.

How does one create a "formal" style with hints of casualness but not looking drab or inappropriate? Looking presentable for a video interview via Zoom or conducting a business proposal to would-be customers/investors, might require a suitable attire to face your audience. The new term for today's WFH wardrobe-speak is "Business Casual". It's the essence of looking sharp without feeling unprofessional. Not all of such work meetings via Zoom needs to be polished and sophisticated.

Personal Grooming

One of the ways of looking dapper without breaking the bank is buttoning up a long-sleeved patterned shirt, and getting yourself groomed (i.e. shaved, slick back, or style your hair). It's important to sit-up straight, look positive, and smile. Carrying your body well with a good posture can also elevate the style of your clothes.

If you think athleisure clothes are a sophisticated alternative to "smart casual", no, they are not. That would not project the kind of image you want for yourself, brand, and or company. Please stay away from that idea. Then again, you don't want to go the whole hog - full boardroom regalia! That would appear overdressed and stuffy. "Smart or business casual" is not very hard to achieve. It's about not being under-dressed while showing some respect to your audience.

Other examples of "business casual" is to wear a blazer over a crisp polo-shirt or iron-pressed T-shirt. There is the fashion faux pas where people don't really bother about their bottoms - pants, trousers, etc - going this shortcut way does not bode well psychologically. Even if you’re wearing sweatpants or shorts for your next Zoom call, never let that secret out!

Work Attire Psyche

Experts cite that what you wear to work sends subtle psychological messages to your brain, thereby "informing" you that you are actually working and putting emphasis in your role in the workplace. Also, when one dressed well, one can feel empowered, authoritative and competent. The end result - you create two-way interactions with you and your audience. You give them a sense of trustworthiness, productivity, creativity, friendliness, and most of all, respect. Here again, you also don't want to overdress as these signals might send the wrong, unspoken message to the other person. You want your participant(s) or viewer(s) to feel engaged and at ease with you.

An appropriate wardrobe is the best way to influence your colleague's or client's perception of you even if you work remotely. If you put in effort to dress the part, it shows that you honour their presence and profession. In fact, dressing up can also influence your mood, passion and drive!

When you're dressing up for work-for-home scenarios, you might want to emphasise on comfort because you don't want to be sweating like a pig under a blazer. You also don't want to be wearing woolly materials if you don't have your air-con turned on. While that woollen shirt might make you look smart, you don't want to have a sweat forehead and neck while appearing on the camera. You can "dress for the day" by looking chic, clean and smart. While you may want to express your individual style, avoid jarring, gaudy colours that might distract or turn off your audience.

Getting The Details Right

However, colour can also help to power up your "business casual" look. Your favourite colour, if executed judiciously, can affect your personal mood. A spokesperson for Pantone Colour Institute had this to share, "Generally, hotter shades like orange, red, yellow or reddish-purples are connected to activity and are really good to get you moving and get your adrenaline pumping. The cooler shades, like blues or bluish greens, are more relaxing. You need to choose what works best for your needs at a given time."

A tip is to mix neutrals with bold colours to convey some panache. For ladies, a simple red lipstick can work wonders on the face to brighten your smile.

If you like to wear a sharp-looking blazer, you can pair them with dress jeans to pull the look together. Fashion and function can be combined to create a comfy sartorial look that your audience and/or clients would be pleased to do business with you. As a general rule of thumb: Just ensure that you do not include any loungewear, sweaters, gym clothes or any outfit that may deem too "homey". Remember this famous saying, "Dress for success!", it's important to also establish a regular routine if your work-based Zoom calls require a bit of formal attire. A last tip is to plan your wardrobe on Sunday if you're expecting a series of Zoom calls in the following weekdays. It's always best to be prepared!

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