Dressing from the waist up? Fashion's most stylish say no

Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, reported that
sales of tops are surging during the shutdown. But bottoms are stagnant,
surely also a metaphor for our sedentary new existence working from home,
experiencing screen fatigue and snacking nervously between Slack and Zoom
meetings. As navigating the latest videoconference technology has taken
priority, expectations of professional office attire that have been carved
in stone since deep within the dress-for-success eighties have been

Workplace dress codes have literally been halved as we social distance
to flatten the curve,and encase our own expanding curves in striped
button-downs but with gym shorts, yoga pants or pajamas, all with
elasticated waistbands. Pants and skirts, not deemed essential workers
during the pandemic, have been furloughed, postponed until further notice.
You may have dug out the Christmas socks, a physical link to a recent
happier homebound time. Perhaps you’re enjoying experiencing what if feels
like to just float around your apartment on weekdays like a dust magnet.
Some revolutionaries might even be videoconferencing with their boss with
nothing but a spring breeze from the open window coming between their
nether regions and that swivel chair. This is business, just not as

But experts say the best way to deal with the self-isolation is to
maintain routine. Leading the charge against this half-mast
is Marc Jacobs whose daily Instagram posts show him parading
around his apartment dressed in the latest Prada, with glittery fingernails
and eyelids, the ensemble completed with his signature platform boots. His
looks are no different than those he sported pre-shutdown striding along
Soho’s cobbled streets.

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Fashion designers dress to impress while working from home

Isaac Mizrahi is also considering joining the resistance, asserting
authority over a temporarily neglected sense of style. He posted, “I’m kind
of thinking a three-piece suit, a really tight suit? Or a corset and some
kind of 19th-century gown with 30 cuffed buttons? Seriously, I need

This need for structure prompted the founding of Instagram account
@wfhfits (Working From Home Outfits) by a trio of editors from
Elle, Vogue and GQ, a wellspring of inspiration
for not giving up the ghost while confined. There can be no arguing with
the power of Anna Della Russo’s leg-of-mutton sleeves towering over her
wooden desk. But our natural impulse to artfully attire seems to have been
redirected into selecting the perfect background for our Zoom meetings:
Paris street scene or hallway from The Shining? Because it’s also
disorienting to be receiving instruction from your besuited boss while
you’re both questioning the decor choices of each other’s living rooms.

But know that you’re not alone in feeling subconscious if your roots are
beginning to show. Some of us are wondering if we can push the
unpredictability occurring under the desk northwards, to heads, and
incorporate niftily wrapped scarves and rakish berets until the at-home
hair dye kit arrives in the mail. And women worldwide are realizing how
much bras truly pinch after having not worn one for several consecutive
days. These communal experiences are human and grounding during this
anxious time, but who knows how they might influence us as we present
ourselves in the post-COVID office cubicle? The Christmas socks might

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Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for
the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Photo of woman seated at a desk using moblile devices from Wikimedia
Commons by CSIRO from


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