Hold on to your (fancy) trackies, the biz-leisure trend that grew out of the first months of COVID lockdown isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it might just follow you back to the office.
Writing this, I’m back in the office – and have been since the end of May – so I know that I’m writing from a place of privilege in that respect, particularly for Melbourne people.
It is also the case in offices in cities where a lockdown is no longer in place that people have not been able to return to their office buildings or, if they can, they are doing so under restrictions. This is both the case for my husband and daughter, whose offices are in the Brisbane CBD.
And then you have those who now have the option to work from home or head into the office – and they’re exercising that option because they quite like the flexibility that not having to commute offers.
Many of us have gotten very used to getting up, getting dressed and popping on clothes that offer a high-comfort factor. That comfort factor is highly addictive. Life really is too short to wear clothes that feel like you’re wearing a straight jacket or clothes that dig in the moment you sit down at your computer.
Comfort aside, the other leading factor in the biz-leisure trend is the amount of time that spent on video conference calls.
In short, this has driven the “business up the top; party down below” style of outfit that many TV newsreaders have perfected over many years. What’s seen on screen – or on a Zoom call – is the polished, put-together part of the outfit. Out of camera, you’re sitting pretty and comfortable in whatever you’d like.
So, how is this video-conferencing call trend finding it’s way out of homes? I feel there’s been a massive shift over recent years away from “high” corporate, structured dressing for the office. And I’m not just talking about the advent of casual Friday.
Yes, there are workplaces where the dress code may remain quite formal but most had already made the shift away to a polished, smart casual policy.
The biz-leisure trend will become an extension of this and we’ll see even more offices will relax into this kind of policy.
And I’m not mad about it. Who says you have to dress in sky high heels and a pencil skirt or tailored pants to do your job well? No-one who’s worked from home over the past six months, I’d say.
It really is still possible to look professional – and feel comfortable – all in the one outfit. Here’s how.
The biz-leisure trend de-constructed
1. The key to this trend extending beyond the work-from-home situation is that the relaxed pieces of your outfit are fit for leaving the home as well. Keep PJs or old trackies for sleeping in.
2. The leisure bit is pretty easy for most of us who love a casual outfit. In winter, this may be a fancy pair of trackies, activewear tights or a relaxed joggy-style pant worn back with a quality t-shirt or relaxed shirt. In summer, it might be a lightweight relaxed pant, shorts or a “throw-and-go” shirt dress.
3. Quality stretch fabrics and elasticised waists complete the mandatory required comfort levels. See above re sitting down most of the day.
4. Do wear shoes. Even if you’re still working from home, supportive flat shoes are key to your foot and leg health. And, yes they can be sneakers. Long may the sneaker with anything trend continue! My fave footwear, FRANKiE4 has just introduced two styles of ballet flats that tick biz-leisure requirements.
5. It’s all in the contrast, DARRLING. The quickest and easiest way to add a little biz up top is with a blazer or cape. With one garment, you’ve swiftly and efficiently elevated your look.
6. Add accessories that frame your face – think earrings or necklace. If you use your hands talking like I do then rings and bracelets/bangles come into their own. Beware the jangling bracelets on Zoom calls though. Have a scarf next to your desk to cover up any coffee and/or food spills that might happen throughout the day (oops, maybe that’s just me, the human food magnet 🤦♀️).
7. Have fun with it. It’s only clothes. If dressing up for work motivates you, embrace it. If you just like the contrast of leisure and structure, go for it. You may not pack away your structured pants and shirts forever but you just find new ways to make the most of versatile dress-up/dress-down pieces in your wardrobe.
So, tell me, where are you on the biz-leisure scale? Full leisure? Full biz? Or something in between?