The Rise of Waist-up Fashion for Video Calls

conference call

Earlier this year, The Office star John Krasinski started a web series called Some Good News. Filmed from his home, the show is a news program dedicated to reporting good news happening around the world. Each episode ends with Krasinski, who is wearing a suit and tie from the waist up, standing up from his chair and walking out of frame to reveal his uncoordinated choice of bottoms – usually loudly patterned boxers. This funny running gag highlights one of life’s aspects in isolation – dressing your best from the waist up and not making an effort with the rest of your ensemble.

Due to fashion’s transient nature, clothing retailers constantly have to stay on top of trends in the industry. Current events can sometimes influence these trends. If they don’t adjust, these companies risk suffering a blow to their sales. That’s exactly what happened to many fashion retailers worldwide when the pandemic hit and people were forced to work from home. Priorities were stripped to the bare essentials, and many had no choice but to virtualize their workflows. Even famous musicians such as Billie Eilish and John Legend had to forgo traditional music videos shot by production houses and opted to use either animation or self-shot footage.

The fashion industry’s response to the pandemic

Because of the isolation period, sales for workplace attire plummeted. Traditional department stores such as Macy’s and fast fashion brands such as H&M were already in trouble before this year, and the pandemic only served to aggravate that issue. Being non-essential products, luxury brands have been suffering as well. Instead, sales have been going to online stores and small businesses – which often exclusively operate online anyway. Consumers have also been spending on comfortable attire to wear at home instead of attire for going out to work and social gatherings.

To fight for their survival, luxury fashion brands have designed “waist-up” clothing for video calls. These pieces normally have logos placed at the neck so others can plainly see them in video chat rooms. They’re now paired with other waist-up accessories such as scarves and hair wraps.

At September fashion events this year, renowned designers from worldwide dressed their catwalk models in sweatsuits and other kinds of comfortable coordinates instead of glamorous dresses. Even their footwear reflected the desire for comfort as models were seen wearing lower-heeled shoes.

woman using laptop

Why it’s worth giving it a shot

So is this a trend worth following? Even if you’re not doing many Zoom calls, it might still be a good idea to make a bit more effort with your remote work attire. It’s good to have a certain level of comfort when going about your day, but according to experts, too much comfort might not work in your favor. The clothes that you wear impact your mental state and part of that is your creativity and productivity. There are clothes that we wear specifically for certain activities. Pajamas are meant for lounging around, while slacks and crisp button-ups are meant for the workplace. Switching up these associations can affect our ability to get work done.

Because you associate your pajamas with binge-watching series on Netflix, wearing them while doing remote work might not put you in the most productive mindset. This applies not just to attire but also grooming. This is also why it doesn’t help you work from your bed or couch – because those spaces are meant for resting and not working.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to do our work remotely. While this allows us a comfort level that on-site work cannot, it’s worth remembering that dressing too comfortably can negatively impact our productivity. Though we’re doing all our work from the comfort of our homes, it’s worth it to still make an effort with how we dress.

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