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Career Corner: Hoodies and Yoga Pants

At times, it feels as if the pandemic has changed everything about the nature of work. One notable thing that has changed is our work attire. For most of my career, I’ve thought of my work uniform as a costume. It’s a version of ourselves that we show in a certain setting. It’s like wearing certain clothes to religious services. You know that there are certain things that are expected, depending on where you are.

I started my career in engineering. Back then, I wore khaki pants, a golf shirt, and steel toed boots. Later in my career, I worked in marketing at a financial institution. Then, I wore a suit and high heels on many days. But now, things are very different. It is not unusual to see an entire team of people wearing hoodies and stretchy pants.

What should we make of this? The honest answer is that only time will tell. On one level, it seems that we’re focusing more on talent than appearances. But are we also letting our work slide with our casual looks?

For me, focusing less on appearances allows me to focus my energy more on what really matters — the work. I love how casual work from home has become and I wouldn’t feel badly if I traded in my business suits for yoga pants and hoodies.

With this said, there is one time when you have to make the effort. When you’re interviewing for jobs, the same rules apply even though you’re remote. Dressing up for a Zoom job interview is similar to writing a thank you note afterward. It’s not something that you have to do but you want the job, so you do it to show interest.

It’s recommended that you wear the same suit you would have worn before the pandemic. Try it on in advance to be sure it fits properly. Do your hair and makeup in a similar way. Wear the same jewelry. Try to look as if things are normal.

Beyond what you look like, you also need to pay attention to your environment. In a normal job interview, you’d go in person. But at home, you have to take charge. First, realize that the company can learn so much about you that they couldn’t before. Clean up the area around you. Be sure your space is quiet. And consider getting a ring light for the best on screen appearance.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth it for the job offer you’ll secure. With any luck, the job will be remote. And, you’ll have the opportunity to wear casual clothes again day to day.

What will be curious to learn ultimately is what in person office wear will look like in the future. We will have spent almost two years wearing casual clothes together. Can we all agree that hoodies and yoga pants are in our future?  

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

March 11, 2021

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Angela Copeland


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