How Working From Home Changed Wardrobes Around the World


Have months of self-isolation, lockdown and dealing from house irrevocably modified what we’ll placed on as soon as we exit once more? For a very long time, the assumption was sure. Now, as restrictions ease and the opening up of workplaces and journey is dangled like a promise, that expectation is extra like a professional “maybe.” But not each nation’s expertise of the final yr was the identical, nor had been the garments that dominated native wardrobes. Before we will predict what’s subsequent, we have to perceive what was. Here, eight New York Times correspondents in seven completely different international locations share dispatches from a yr of dressing.

Retail experiences, vogue magazines and private accounts agree: When working from house this previous yr, many Italian ladies discovered solace in knitwear. Those who may afford it favored cashmere wool knitwear, the sort Italian Vogue known as “a luxury version of classic two-piece sweats.”

Fabio Pietrella, the president of Confartigianato Moda, the vogue arm of the affiliation of artisans and small companies, mentioned that whereas shopper tendencies indicated a shift from “a business look to comfort,” it was “not too much comfort.” Italian ladies, he mentioned, had eschewed sportswear for “quality knitwear” that ensures freedom of motion however with “a minimum of elegance.”

A seat-of-the-pants ballot amongst a random pattern of working ladies, largely of their 40s and 50s, revealed that many continued to decorate as in the event that they had been going to the workplace, even whereas favoring consolation over smartness.

One girl mentioned she made a degree of getting dressed — knit high and slacks — and going out every morning to a nook cafe to seize a espresso earlier than sitting down at her desk. Another mentioned she dressed as she had in pre-Covid occasions to set an instance for her two teenage kids, who (she joked) had stopped washing altogether after months of distance studying.

Astrid D’Eredità, a cultural advisor and new mom, mentioned she had forgone pajamas “even when I was pregnant” and opted for an informal however put-together type. Pajamas and sweats additionally obtained a thumbs down from Simona Capocaccia, a graphic designer who has been working from house since final March. “Dressing for work cheers me up,” she mentioned.

Milena Gammaitoni, a professor at Roma Tre, certainly one of Rome’s major universities, can spend whole days at the laptop, between Zoom departmental conferences and her classes with college students (whom she asks to not put on pajamas), however she nonetheless attire as she did in pre-Covid days, with a colourful jacket over extra informal slacks.

“Recently I’ve even started wearing perfume,” she mentioned, laughing. “I think I’m totally fried.”

The actress and director Francesca Nanni, who labored on a documentary about Italian ladies throughout final yr’s lockdown, mentioned one girl continued to put on excessive heels throughout Zoom conferences though nobody may see her toes. Another insisted on dressing up for dinner at house, selecting a unique shade each evening. “But that didn’t last too long,” she mentioned. “Her husband got fed up.”

According to Mr. Pietrella of Confartigianato Moda, one examine discovered that Italian ladies opted to decorate for work from home to erect a “psychological wall” of types to separate themselves from the remainder of the household.

“Dressing sends the signal that Mom is home, but she’s working,” Mr. Pietrella mentioned. “So, no ‘Mamma, help me with my homework, Mamma, did you go food shopping? Mamma, I need this or that.’ Mamma is working, so she’s adopted a look that makes it clear to the other family members that she’s in work mode.”

Elisabetta Povoledo

Not even a pandemic has diminished Dakar’s declare to being the flyest city on the planet.

In the Senegalese capital, at Africa’s westernmost tip, males in pointy yellow slippers and crisp white boubous — loosefitting lengthy tunics — nonetheless glide down streets dredged with Saharan mud. Young ladies nonetheless sit in cafes sipping baobab juice in patterned leggings and jeweled hijabs. Everyone from consultants to greengrocers nonetheless wears beautiful prints from head to toe.

Occasionally they now put on an identical masks.

While a lot of the world was shut up at house, many individuals in West Africa had been working or going to highschool as regular. Lockdown in Senegal lasted just some months. It was unimaginable for many individuals right here to stick with it. They rely on going out to earn their dwelling.

And in Dakar, going out means dressing up.

Even when you’re going to work on a development web site. The younger males who stream to them every morning, with sardine baguettes wrapped in newspaper beneath their arms, haven’t modified their look of tracksuits — pants on the skinny aspect — with clear jelly sneakers or Adidas sliders over socks and generally certainly one of the black-and-white woolen hats that the poet and revolutionary Amílcar Cabral liked.

Still, many voters have needed to tighten their belts, and the ban on massive gatherings for baptisms and weddings means fewer new garments are required.

As a end result, there are fewer alteration jobs for the itinerant tailors who stride round residential areas, stitching machine hoisted on a shoulder, clinking a pair of scissors to promote their companies. And the couturiers who’ve little ateliers in transformed garages in each Dakar neighborhood, doorways flung open able to run up an emergency outfit in an hour or much less, have in lots of circumstances needed to let apprentices go as a result of there’s not sufficient work.

Like many Senegalese ladies, Bigue Diallo used to get a brand new gown for each occasion — and if it was an in depth good friend’s celebration, she’d get a number of. These days, she doesn’t see the level.

“I’m not going to waste my money if I can wear my outfit for just two hours among 10 to 15 people,” mentioned Ms. Diallo, the proprietor of a restaurant in Dakar. “I’d want it to be seen by many people.”

Ruth Maclean and Mady Camara

Carla Lemos was not often at house in February final yr, earlier than the pandemic hit Brazil. The writer and influencer was wearing black denims, a cardigan and oxford sneakers at chilly airports and assembly rooms or in a V-neck cropped shirt, high-waist skirt and trendy sneakers on summer season nights in Rio de Janeiro.

One yr on, her wardrobe has modified as a lot as her way of life. “I used to be attached to things because they were beautiful, not comfortable,” she mentioned. “I came to realize that clothes need to fit me and make me live better,” she mentioned. That meant free attire, kimonos and flip-flops.

Indeed, flip-flops are the sartorial success story of the pandemic in Brazil. Although clothes gross sales plunged 35 p.c final yr, in line with estimates by the market analysis agency IEMI, the flip-flop label Havaianas noticed gross sales develop 16 p.c, in comparison with 2019.

Enter new toe socks, glittering flip-flops for Reveillón and ones with themes impressed by Brazilian biodiversity and the L.G.B.T. neighborhood.

Ms. Lemos fought the gloom with a dopamine-friendly dressing type that she traced again to the hardships of rising up in the suburbs of Rio.

“The city is colorful, and where I lived, we mixed textures and prints because we reused clothes from an older sister or cousin,” she mentioned. “That’s who I am today, and this is a strong part of the Brazilian fashion identity as well.”

Working professionals of their 30s and 40s have embraced consolation over type in the final yr. Formal outfits have been changed by athleisure, sneakers by flip-flops (as in lots of different Asian cultures, most Indians don’t put on sneakers inside their properties), and formal shirts are sometimes worn on video calls with pajamas, observe pants or shorts beneath.

India went by way of certainly one of the strictest lockdowns in the world between 25 March 2020 and the finish of May 2020; the solely purchasing allowed was for important groceries and medicines. Even on-line retail got here to an entire halt save for important objects. As a end result, clothes gross sales dropped almost 30 p.c final yr in line with a joint report by the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India.

While infections had been low throughout the winter, the previous few weeks have seen circumstances rising to staggering ranges in lots of components of the nation. Right now, it seems to be as if many individuals might be working from house for many of 2021 too.

For Ritu Gorai, who runs a mothers community in Mumbai, which means she has barely shopped in any respect, as an alternative utilizing equipment like scarves, jewellery and glasses to jazz up her look and add somewhat polish.

For Sanshe Bhatia, an elementary schoolteacher, it has meant buying and selling her lengthy kurtas or formal trousers and blouses for caftans and leggings. In order to encourage her class of 30 youngsters to dress in the morning quite than attending classes of their pajamas, she takes care to look neat and makes certain her lengthy hair is brushed correctly.

And for Ranajit Mukherjee, a politician with the Congress celebration (the major opposition celebration), being house as an alternative of touring to completely different constituencies has meant swapping his regular political uniform — white kurta-pajamas, used to tell apart celebration members from company staff, and a Nehru jacket for extra formal occasions — for T-shirts and informal pants. Most of his colleagues, he mentioned, did the identical.

Shalini Venugopal Bhagat

Nathalie Lucas’s hair fell stylishly down on a bouffant black shirt with giant lapels. A thick silver chain necklace circled her neck, and vibrant purple lipstick conveyed a splash of shade. But beneath the waist, she wore a pair of relaxed black observe pants — “by Frankie Shop,” she mentioned, “just like my shirt and necklace.” And, mentioned the basic merchandising director at the Au Printemps division retailer, “I am barefoot.”

“Working remotely has really changed customs,” she mentioned.

And but Zoom dressing is “something the French worry about,” mentioned Manon Renault, an professional in the sociology of vogue. “Especially Parisians, who feel they represent elegance.” And whereas a sure laisser-aller lately had the conservative weekly Le Figaro Madame fretting about whether or not home-wear habits would drag vogue into a tailspin,” interviews with a spread of Parisians recommend a compromise of types had been reached.

When Xavier Romatet, the dean of the Institut Français de la Mode, France’s foremost vogue faculty, went again to work, he didn’t put on a go well with, however he did put on a white shirt beneath a navy blue cashmere sweater and beige chinos, as he would at house. He paired his outfit with sneakers by Veja, a French eco-friendly model.

Similarly, Anne Lhomme, the inventive director of Saint Louis, the luxurious tableware model, attire the identical whether or not remotely or in individual. A favourite look, she mentioned, features a camel-colored cashmere poncho “designed by a friend, Laurence Coudurier, for Poncho Gallery” and loosefitting plum silk pants. Also lipstick, earrings and 4 Swahili rings she present in Kenya.

For his half, Thierry Maillet, the chief govt of Ooshot, a visible belongings manufacturing platform, developed a do business from home uniform that concerned his previous work uniform from the waist up — “light blue or white shirts, which I buy at Emile Lafaurie or online from Charles Tyrwhitt, with a round-collar sweater if it’s cold” — and, from the waist down, “Uniqlo pants in stretch fabric.”

And Sophie Fontanel, a author and former vogue editor at Elle, mentioned, “I am often barefoot at home, alone, wearing a very pretty dress.”

Daphné Anglès

Since final spring, when many Japanese started working remotely, vogue magazines and on-line websites have featured recommendations on the right way to look good onscreen. The highest precedence was not rest or consolation, however wanting tidy {and professional}.

One girl who works as a gross sales agent for an web listing service attends on-line conferences a couple of days per week, and every time she places on a vibrant knit high and a full face of make-up. She mentioned she wouldn’t seem onscreen in a sweatshirt or a T-shirt or any garment that urged taking it straightforward at house.

A girl who works in the accounting part of a design firm all the time places on a jacket for on-line conferences with shoppers, although she nonetheless wears denims beneath.

For each, colours, texture, and design of collars and sleeves are key.

Fashion magazines and stylists have advisable elaborate shirts with puffed sleeves and one-piece attire as a result of they appear eye-catching onscreen. Fast-fashion manufacturers like Uniqlo, GU and Fifth, in addition to high-fashion labels, have targeted on vibrant satin, silk and linen shirts with bow ties or stand-up collars, striped patterns or gathered sleeves. The pattern for such showy tops has led to a increase in clothes subscription companies.

One such platform, AirCloset, introduced that 450,000 customers had subscribed in October 2020, 3 times greater than in the identical interval in 2019. Often customers request tops solely (one backside merchandise is normally included), and there’s now a restrict of three in anybody order.

“Customers prefer brighter colors to basics such as navy or beige for online meetings, or they prefer asymmetric design tops,” mentioned Mari Nakano, the AirCloset spokeswoman. About 40 p.c of subscribers are working moms for whom the subscription service saved time as a result of they didn’t should be bothered with washing. They simply put the tops in a bag, return them after which anticipate the subsequent bundle to reach with their new objects.

Hisako Ueno

As usually occurs in a rustic of a number of revolutions, a catastrophe that shakes up the system usually fast-forwards already brewing change. In gown phrases, closed borders meant a extra remoted Russia, which meant extra consideration on native designers.

“We used to travel, and I used to see what people wear in Paris and Rome,” mentioned Nastya Krasnoshtan, who used the free time throughout the pandemic to start out her personal jewellery model. “Now we cannot do that.”

As incomes shrank, particularly amongst the center class in giant cities, many Russians additionally may not afford even the hottest overseas manufacturers. Anna Lebedeva, a advertising and marketing specialist from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest metropolis, is now largely shopping for native Russian ones.

“People used to hide that they wear anything Russian,” Ms. Lebedeva mentioned. “It wasn’t hip.”

The pandemic made Ms. Lebedeva a fan of Ushatava, an unbiased label of smooth, geometrically tailor-made smooth designs in largely muted pure colours. It was based in Yekaterinburg, a metropolis in the Ural Mountains that in the previous few years has became a Russian vogue hub. 12Storeez, one other rising model from Yekaterinburg, noticed its turnover balloon by 35 p.c over the final yr, at the same time as the market total shrank by 1 / 4, mentioned Ivan Khokhlov, certainly one of the founders.

Nastya Gritskova, the head of a P.R. company in Moscow, mentioned the impact of the pandemic was that for the first time in the Russian capital folks stopped “paying attention at who wears what.” Yet final fall, when the authorities eased coronavirus-related restrictions, issues began going again to regular.

“There isn’t a pandemic that can make Russian women stop thinking about how to look beautiful,” she mentioned.

Ivan Nechepurenko


Elisabetta Povoledo, Ruth Maclean, Mady Camara, Flávia Milhorance, Shalini Venugopal Bhagat, Daphné Anglès, Hisako Ueno and Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.





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