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Is formal office dress code dead?

For many of us the pandemic has revealed, via Zoom, parts of our lives to colleagues who would otherwise not have received an invitation to the inner sanctum we all call home.

One TV advert coined the phrase ‘housebarrassment’ as we witnessed one member of the team being cajoled by her boss to remove her background filter only to reveal a less than pristine kitchen. During the first lockdown and even more recently we witnessed members of the press interviewing senior representatives of major organisations in their bedrooms, kitchens, lounges and for the fortunate few, home libraries and studies. And, then there was ‘Covid hair’ and make-up as newsreaders arrived with self-styled hair dos and home make up attempts. And finally, we witnessed a move away from the more formal attire, usually donned by TV presenters and celebs, to more relaxed garb – some took the term smart casual a little too far!

Work attire has been debated for some time and some have predicted that the formal office dress code should never come back. Some even tried (and failed) to encourage us to dress up for work video calls, but we all know that beneath that formal shirt or blouse was a pair of trackies, shorts or jimjams. Admit it, we’ve all done it! This begs the question, what is suitable office attire these post pandemic days? What will bosses accept as we start to venture back into the office - we’ve all seen the CEO in her yoga top or the marketing director in his football shirt!

The playing field has been well and truly levelled. And whatever your view on the new office outfit rules, don’t rely on Google to give you guidance, ask the boss to set out clear guidelines to avoid any embarrassment, and if you are an employer, then issue clear guidance to your team to avoid the officebarrassement.

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