Spring is officially here. This year spring marks not only the start of a new season, but the start of finding a new normal as well.
Social distancing, life online, blurred boundaries — these are just a few of the new concepts we are adapting to.
Finding a New Normal
Many experts suggest that one way to handle the confusing amount and speed of the change we’re experiencing as a result of COVID-19 is to create a schedule, develop new positive habits, and set boundaries with those we find ourselves in 24/7 contact with.
What You Can Control
Our normal daily routines have been upended. No more going to the office, to school, to volunteer work, to meet friends, to visit family — no more going anywhere. Stuck indoors, it’s easy to just feel ‘stuck’ in every sense of the word.
It helps to make a distinction between different parts of your day. A simple way to do that is though your physical appearance. When you wake up, change out of your pyjamas. When you finish exercising, change out of your sport clothes. Create a work uniform so you can feel professional, even online, with a minimal time investment.
Broken Windows Theory
The broken windows theory relates to an abandoned building with a broken window. The broken window signals that no one cares, which can quickly lead to others breaking more windows, spray painting the building, letting weeds grow around it, etc.
This can be applied to self-care as well. When we don’t invest in ourselves and the image we project, others assume we don’t care, and they invest less energy in us as well. At work this has implications that can affect our chances at a promotion, a new job or a career switch.
In this new age of working remotely, what are the boundaries when it comes to workwear? How can we look our best while dressing for the mix of activities we’re now combined into each ‘work day’?
Dressing for Working from Home
It’s easy to get a bit too comfortable when we think no one can see us. Wearing a track suit every day to work is a slippery slope. The way we dress not only has an affect on how others perceive us. It also affects our posture, our mood, and how we interact with others, even online. If you don’t believe it, try this experiment for one week. Wear your pyjamas all day for three days. The following two days, get dressed with the help of the following tips. Keep track of how you feel at the beginning and end of each day. Also note how people react to you both on- and offline.
Look Your Best on Video Calls
Working online became commonplace for many of us overnight. Most of us are still adjusting. Here are three important things to consider when meeting or presenting online:
Lighting & Contrast
Light should be in front of you and/or coming from the sides. A light source behind your head usually puts your face in a shadow. Make sure there is enough contrast between your face and the background. It’s also advisable to wear at least a bit of makeup to create contrast between your facial features and give you a bit of color. Lack of color, or the wrong color, can make you look ill.
Sitting up straight works wonders. You’ll look more interested and respectful. You’ll breathe more easily, speak more clearly, and project your voice better. Slouching feels like defeat. A straight spine feels like success. Try it and feel the difference.
Always check your background before going live online. What can your audience see? What message is that sending? Is it distracting from what you’re saying?
Wear a Waistband
One of the simplest tricks for feeling professional in your clothing is wearing pants or a skirt with a waistband. Remember that thing with a button and belt loops? It’s attached to the top of your pants along with a zipper. Think of the top of a pair of jeans (leggings don’t count). Do you still own pants with a waistband, or have you slipped into the habit of wearing an elastic waist day and night?
In addition to helping you sit up straighter, a waistband also helps you feel fuller faster. That comes in handy now that most of us are sitting at home near the refrigerator all day long.
Side note: If you’ve been consoling yourself by overeating, here are some tips on How to Stretch Your Wardrobe to Fit.
One Outfit, Many Occasions
Try to create a work uniform for yourself. This will allow you to spend a minimum amount of time getting dressed each morning. With less morning stress, you’re more likely to stick to your routine, which includes healthy things like exercising and eating healthy.
Your work day could now involve a mix of things. Along with working, you could also find yourself cooking, home-schooling your children, and taking care of sick family members and pets. Find a basic uniform that works, for instance a plain t-shirt and jeans. Putting basic earrings and mascara on each morning will give you a good start. A scarf, necklace and lipstick kept next to the computer will come in handy for online meetings. You can also consider keeping nail polish nearby for the calls without video…
The longer and more severe quarantines become, the more our natural beauty is going to be on display. I’m referring especially to hair color and hair growth. It’s time to get creative with headbands and up-do’s.
For another perspective on the new work wardrobe read What Does ‘Dressing For Work’ Mean Now? on The New York Times online.
How are you finding a new normal? Are you ready for that pyjama experiment I mentioned above? Give it a try and let me know how it went in Comments.