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Here’s all that you need to know about “WFH” fashion, ahead of the shopping season!

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We all know that one day soon, we will be back to working from the office – that normal routines will begin. But till then, you miss waking up in the morning and thinking ‘What do I wear to work today?’, right? Yes, it’s been ages since we dressed for office, even longer, for a party. Lounging around in pyjamas most of the day, just getting by with a jacket or a smart top and a shirt, in case of a video call, has pretty much become your go-to fashion, hasn’t it? 

For the true blue fashion aficionados though, staying stylish through the pandemic and making a statement with “comfy” is setting them apart. Meet the alpha homebodies – people who are doing all they can to bring a feeling of being in office even when they are working from home, because they miss the buzz of being in office – right from choosing clothes, getting ready to creating the perfect work atmosphere. They’re the ones who are giving power-dressing in the times of WFH a whole new meaning. Quick to cash in on this new phenomenon, fashion brands are upping the game with cool range of WFH accessories like ‘house shoes’, comfort formal wear, loose fitting dresses and even simple day wear makeup.

Easy does it

Recently, Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow posted a picture of herself in a tomato red dress, sitting at the kitchen table, sans makeup, setting off a trend of sorts of wearing the dress at all times. Comfortable, glamorous, chic house wear, as well as an office formal, the smock dress is the new domestic goddess’ go to outfit these days. “Summer with my tomato,” she’d captioned her Insta pic.

In the west, designer Olivia Morris has come up with a range of “house shoes” for those who want to dress for work while at home, without appearing too ‘dressy’. She told The Guardian, “I work at home, I parent at home, I love having people over. I’ve created a shoe for that life. I don’t want to pad around barefoot, but I don’t want a huge sheepskin slipper, either.” So, easy-peasy styles are all the rage this WFH season – and might well lead right into office-going routines as well. “Expect relaxations in formal wear henceforth, when we all start going back to offices,” asserts designer Renu Dadlani.

It’s all about office at home

Earlier a busy CEO’s life was about working hard and partying harder. The mantra still applies, but only that it’s all in the home. The work is at home, meeting is all at home, lunches are at home and parties also at home. So, how does one feel one is “going out” right at home? “It’s all about clothes, and not feeling a complete slob,” says Manupreet Singh, CEO and entrepreneur of a fashion start-up that designs WFH clothes. “Don’t stay on the bed all the time, even if it’s a kaftan, or for the men, a set of joggers, be spiffy,” she says. For the evening, she suggests everyone changes into another set of clothes to “feel the party” and throw on a printed shirt over jeggings or loose trousers.

Tottering stilettoes are no longer an aspirational thing – even for those who miss the office buzz. Also gone are jeans and tailored shirts. When nine-to-five is irrelevant, Alex Eagle, a store owner in London, suggests we all cultivate a workwear aesthetic of wearing easy fit cottons and silks instead of tight-fitting jackets and ties.

High Fashion is wearing off

The fashion industry itself is in no mood for haute couture, since sales are yet to recover. The WFH alphas are also not too keen on mothballing designer outfits since clearly, there’s no use for them at least till the year end. To up sales, big fashion clothing brands and designers are latching on to the WFH alphas, and their demands. In London, John Lewis is all set to market “new home-based offerings” (read rentable furniture). Fashion brand Ralph Lauren is also making and selling more towels and candles than shirts and trousers these days. And the rest are cracking their heads over what the domestic goddess will want to wear now. Athleisure is the fastest growing sector, “because health is now everyone’s number one priority” Marion Rabate, founder of Ernest Leoty has told a London newspaper.

Effortless fashion

Back home, designers like Renu Dadlani are all set to make it easy for the WFH fashionistas by offering simple, easy to wear day and evening wear options to capture the coming festive shopping season They believe these new styles might even become an office-going dress-code when people start going back to office. “Wear anything that makes you feel positive. No one has the mood, time or money to splurge. So, fashion has to be functional, and to the point. The lady of the house has to look good in a Zoom meeting, and also while she is peeling potatoes for the lunch mash. So, if you are an Indian wear person, keeping a smart dupatta handy is all that you need to do. Since even our social lives are going to be home-based for a while now, what they wear for dinner should not look too dressy for the kitchen table,” she opines. Creaseless materials are winners, she adds, since there’s no time to worry about crease ruining your look as you’re in this home-work struggle. Plus, everyone can wear wide-legged trousers and hassle-free clothing even to the office when things normalize.

Recycling, upcycling, and even cleaning up are in store, opine fashion high-street designers. Retail is slowest in this sector, and as creative director Haeni Kim of the famous British label Kitri explains in The Guardian“Sequins catch the light beautifully at a party, but we probably need to rethink that. I don’t think anyone wants to sit on a sofa at home in sequined trousers.” So, this fall, Kitri will go for “bright colors and a louche, ‘hostess dressing’ vibe that feels luxurious at home.

New normal accessories

Stay away chokers, bracelets and gaudy pops. The new accessories to make a style statement eco-friendly , customised, washable face masks, shirts with labelled pockets for mask and gloves, refillable hand-sanitiser bottles in a clip-on holder. No one’s seeing your diamond studs anyway!.

Style it up before you start going to office again

So, there you go! This phase of WFH, even though we are all hoping it’s a short one, is all about the alpha fashionista. The styles they set are driving the fashion industry towards recovery from the pandemic. And who knows, when we all start going to the office also, we might need those extra pockets to keep the mask and sanitizer. Even if it’s just for a while before you start hitting the office-going, shirt-tie routine all over again!

By Ashwini Kumar Sharma

For more on pandemic WFH fashion, read

I miss the buzz of an office : https://amp.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/sep/25/i-miss-the-buzz-of-an-office-wearing-something-cheerful-perks-me-up-the-rise-of-the-domestic-goddess-20?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium=&utm_source=Twitter&__twitter_impression=true

The Alex Eagle Janus Coat : https://www.alexeagle.co.uk/

How to kick your comfort wear habit : https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/may/15/how-to-kick-your-comfortwear-habit

These work from home fashion ideas will make you want to give up your pyjamas : https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/these-work-from-home-fashion-ideas-will-make-you-want-to-give-up-your-pyjamas/article31346724.ece

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