REMEMBER office attire? Well, people are leaving the house again for work and meetings.
It has been more than two years since the lockdowns of various intensities made working from home almost mandatory. Sure, there were brave souls who traveled, through the pandemic, to get vaccination shots abroad in the early days when the vaccination program here was still struggling.
For most of the pandemic period, only “upper” wear for virtual meetings was necessary. Videos only covered the torso against a virtual background of a beach or the corporate logo. And even sleepwear was possible if one shut down the video or just attended a webinar on mute. (Raise your virtual hand for questions.)
Mobility is more pronounced with the new (or old) normal. Going to the office is increasingly expected by clients. What attire is appropriate for in-person meetings when the whole person is now visible?
What happened to the “going out” wardrobe in your closet? This is also a good time to weed out and reduce the clutter.
Occasional wear can be set aside. Travel clothes — overcoats, leather jackets, mufflers, and gloves? Cold weather countries in Europe are not in anyone’s itinerary now. Don’t go East, young man, unless you’re bring ammunition. Still, passports and visas are now being updated.
Long pants? Waiting to be tried again with some effort in closing the waist button. Forget getting back into shape for now. The pandemic bloat from inactivity and, yes, even now with open gyms, inertia is still holding us back.
Slim-fit shirts? Forget those. They were not designed to hold back the flab. Even when closed with herculean effort, the spaces between buttons will show abdominal skin. Try clothes that allow you to breathe normally when you sit down with a face mask on.
While shoes are not affected too much by weight gain or loss, there is still a need to buff them and check for cobwebs inside.
Suits have very limited use even now — one of them must be set aside for wearing while in a horizontal position and staring up at a glass window with closed eyes. This attire doesn’t have to be a perfect fit as the arrangers will cut the back portion anyway. One or two can be used for other more joyous occasions like captain’s night in a cruise — if that is still an option. Office attire has been trending towards “smart casual” anyway.
Dressing up is a cultural ritual denoting usefulness. Edmund Morris, the biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, allotted time for writing at home. When he went down to his library to tap on his computer, he put on a suit to put himself in work mode. It’s a discipline that clearly defines writing as real work.
When we call a person “sloppy,” it’s because he no longer cares how he looks as he wears the same clothes in the mall that he wears watching Netflix and scratching his bare ankles in the bedroom.
Majestic personalities always dress up formally even when visiting poor folks. There is a hierarchical aspect in proper attire. This sartorial attitude of those at the top of the social pyramid captivates even poorer relations with the feeling that they’re worth dressing up for.
Killing time for coffee and people-watching requires proper attire too: something neatly pressed, freshly washed, and able to give the wearer the look of a purpose-driven life. Working on an iPad completes the illusion. Self-respect as well as the high regard of others demands the look of being well-fed and dressed for no occasion. Nobody casually asks you the insulting question — what keeps you busy nowadays?
In this political season, attire is color-coded. No need to have logos and printed declarations for the preferred candidate. Face masks and shirts are sometimes color coordinated.
So, when going through the closet, take note of the pink shirts. Sure, some of them bought ages ago in foreign trips may be too tight to wear without assuming the profile of Winne the Pooh.
Our politics have always been colored. The finger signs may have gone a bit out of fashion, but political shades have persevered. We don’t keep our politics as closet thoughts, we bring them out in public, especially in political rallies caught by drone photos.
If the pink shirt is too tight… so is the race to the finish line.
Tony Samson is chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda