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You return to the office.  What are you wearing?

As the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control and employers begin to recall workers to the office, Americans who have worked from home in shorts and sweatpants are wondering what to wear to the office this summer and fall.

The pandemic has accelerated the relaxation of dress codes and the casualness of office attire – trends that have been on the move for some time.

Yet most work-from-home clothing is difficult to accept outdoors, let alone in any type of work environment, and some employers need to redefine their policies regarding work clothing.

“One thing that has been defined is not to wear yoga pants and shirts, it’s more beautiful pants and shirts. Tights,” said Robyn Hopper, adviser at the Society of Human Resources Management ( SHRM).

Some of the organizations that rely on SHRM for advice have had to remind their staff how to dress for work, according to Hopper.

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Uh, no flip flops

“They need to remind employees not to walk into the office in yoga pants and flip flops. It’s summer too and people sometimes forget what a relaxed business environment looks like,” she said.

At the same time, business attire is becoming more and more casual. Even some of the more mainstream employers have relaxed their dress policies in recent years.

Goldman Sachs Investment Bank over the past two years, has enforced what he calls a “flexible” dress code which he says “encourages our employees to use their best judgment on what to wear for their workday.”

“That hasn’t changed during the pandemic, whether in the office or remotely,” a Goldman spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.

investment bank Morgan stanley did not change their dress code either. According to a spokesperson for the bank, the company requires different levels of formality depending on the position and the level of contact with the customer concerned.

Costume suppliers and other formal wear manufacturers began to sweat at the height of the pandemic, as sales of bespoke clothing declined, but demand has since returned for these kinds of styles, albeit with more flexibility.

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“Casual chic”

Joanna Dai, founder and CEO of women’s clothing brand Dai, found after interviewing her own clients that they had started to favor more casual styles during the pandemic.

“Our subsequent collections pivoted to casual and smart casual earlier in the product pipeline than I would have anticipated had COVID not occurred,” Dai said. “We are releasing more essential everyday styles and these have continued to do incredibly well.”

For the era of hybrid work, Dai has launched a new collection called “FLOW”, which stands for “For Life or Work”.

“When you walk into the office, you expect the dress code to be more casual,” Dai said.

The type of hybrid clothing that Dai designs is suitable for this transitional era in which professionals have to revamp their wardrobes but don’t feel like going back to their old office uniforms.

“We’ve always tried to crack the code of comfort because traditional tailoring is so uncomfortable. Now the expectation is comfort. Our customers say they couldn’t imagine tucking into my old black pants and wearing them again. “said Dai.

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Dai’s stretch pants with elastic waistbands adapt to body shapes and waist lines that may have fluctuated over the past 15-18 months as many homeworkers have rediscovered their appetite for snacks.

Greatly exaggerated costume death

Fokke de Jong, founder and CEO of men’s fashion brand Suitsupply, said customers were turning to styles that were “elegant but with a relaxed touch.”

“I don’t think there have been any formal changes in the dress codes, but there is this ‘hybridity’ right now where you see people playing a little more with it. people use a different layer underneath here to dress up the costume a bit. We call it high casual, ”de Jong said. “These are not jeans and hoodies, they are well made knitwear with a nice jacket.”

Rather than ditching the costumes, customers undress them, he says, swapping traditional dress shirts under their suits for a nice white T-shirt, for example.

“I’ve been reading for months about the costume’s death during COVID, but we don’t see that happening. It’s very much alive,” de Jong said.

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“The perfect post-pandemic outfit”

Chris Riccobono, founder of men’s shirt company Untuckit, has been riding the wave of casual dress codes in workplaces and restaurants with button-down shirts designed to be worn until the pandemic strikes and stimulated the love of Americans for comfort clothing.

“When COVID hit everyone was heading for ‘sports’ but we never panicked because we knew if we could just hang in there we would be the perfect post-pandemic outfit,” Riccobono said. .

Today, as more and more people return to the office, he sees a recovery in sales.

“There is only one way for a man to dress. He is not going to wear sweatshirts and joggers at work and he is not going to wear suits at work,” Riccobono explained. “There are some guys who still want to wear their suits to work, but they can’t because they’re going to stand out. So they’re now wearing Untuckit shirts.”

Sales of button-down shirts have improved since April and have increased every month since, according to Riccobono. “Every month gets better and better and that’s clearly because people are getting back to their lives. They haven’t bought in a while and now they’re good to go.”

Reminding workers of their sofas and returning them to the office is one thing – asking them to be dressed and started is another.

“If you wear a tucked-in shirt when you haven’t worn one in 12 months, you don’t feel comfortable,” Riccobono said. “So tell the workers you have to come back and, oh, by the way, you have to dress – that’s too big a change because employees have a lot to say these days about the future.”

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