Wither men’s fashion as we emerge from the fog of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021? Having worked for a year now in sweatpants, shorts and tees, are even those in the most conservative professions really going back to tailored suits, ties and hard-soled shoes? Our correspondent Tomas White has a style report on the outlook for business attire for men as this year unfolds. Here’s our take on how the coronavirus pandemic has changed work fashion in 2021 in 3 big and lasting ways for men in a post-COVID world.
how has the coronavirus pandemic changed the norms on work fashion for men?
The state of men’s business attire was already in flux prior to the pandemic, but the prevalence of remote work has been the nail in the coffin of that style as we knew it. What has replaced it? In two words, comfort and ease.[white_box]
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The rise of the smart phone has played a large role in blurring the boundaries between work and home. In addition, the idolization of Silicon Valley has given casual dressing a stamp of approval. Rolling up to work in a Porsche 911 wearing torn jeans and a ratty t-shirt has been perfectly acceptable there for a while. Like wearing turtle-necks or hoodies to work? Then you are just following the cues of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
However, the pandemic has accelerated and broadened this trend to a degree no one thought possible. Instead of rolling up to work in that 911, you can now simply roll out of bed.
As with cash, business trips, bank branches, and other pre-pan demic relics, the starchy, fitted, padded, and shiny professional clothing of yore is no longer. This is not a top-down change driven by savvy marketers; this change is a bottom-up revolt by hard-working people who have had a rough year.[white_box]
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3 big changes in post-COVID work fashion for men
1. Bye-bye, tight pants… hello, drawstring pants.
Sitting all day while wearing slim fitting pants while having a belt buckle dig into your stomach is clearly the opposite of comfort. Designers have innovated in this area to create pants that are far from your standard cotton sweats. From, wool to denim to linen, these three pants are representative of some of the good options out there.
Drawstring Wool Blend Sweater Joggers By Rick Owens
BUY NOW – $655.
KROOLEY JoggJeans® 0670M – Diesel
BUY NOW – $295.
Drawstring-waist linen trousers – 120% Lino
BUY NOW – $249.[white_box]
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2. Bye-bye, fitted sports coat… hello, soft cardigan.
Why wear a tight jacket that restricts mobility and has puffy shoulders when you can wear a warm unstructured sweater that is cozy and conforms fluidly with your motions. For a more formal look, yet soft construction, you could wear Paul Smith’s merino wool cardigan blazer. For a more traditional, but well-made cardigan you can’t go wrong with Acne Studios.
Dark Navy Merino Wool Cardigan Blazer – Paul Smith.
BUY NOW – $475.
V-Neck Wool Cardigan – Acne Studios.
BUY NOW – $570.
3. Bye-bye, tailored collared shirts…hello, supple tees and soft polos.
T-shirts might be the more controversial trend occurring now, but it is unstoppable. A solid color crew neck tee is both comfortable and these days perfectly professional, particularly if you are wearing it under a cardigan or a sweater. Rag and Bone makes a range of great tees. If you want something more formal, with the same amount of comfort, you can’t go wrong with a classic pique-cotton Ralph Lauren polo shirt. And if you are willing to pay more you can even get one without the logo!
Kirby Cotton Tee – Rag & Bone
BUY NOW – $125,
7. Purple Label Custom Washed Pique Polo Shirt Ralph Lauren
BUY NOW – $295.[white_box]
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What is the new style of the future of men’s business attire?
This trend to super casual isn’t just anecdotal. The steady beat of clothing stores declaring bankruptcy and the fact that dry cleaners have experienced a slump of 90% is hard evidence. This is not to say that style is gone however or that there are no longer fashion faux-pas. (Bath robes are still not acceptable on Zoom calls!) The important thing to remember is that in these trying times it is perfectly possible to be cozy, comfortable, and eminently presentable.
The sage advice given to recent graduates still holds: you want clients not to notice your clothes. If it is sub-par, you will give a negative impression. If it is flashy, you will also give a negative impression. Frankly, if you show up to a conference call wearing a suit, chances are you will appear too flashy.
What do you think, dear reader? Is the tailored suit, dress shirt and tie a relic of the Before Times? Or might they make a comeback in the post-COVID world?
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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links.
A fan of remote nature travel, Tomas White enjoys the dichotomy of the good life in harsh settings, whether it is scuba diving off a decommissioned deep-sea oil platform in the Celebes Sea or reading a good book in a remote desert resort in Utah. He likes to keep his possessions to a minimum, and is thus a huge fan of the power of technology and is very particular about finding well-designed items that are built to last. Tomas majored in English at Harvard, and is making a career in IT. He lives in Chicago with his wife and 4-year-old son.