will office dress codes relax permanently after Covid?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

Could you talk about how the change to work-from-home has changed dress code (formal or informal) in the short-term, and if you think that some of that will continue on after offices reopen?

For example, I notice that even when people are on Zoom calls (so they know they are being seen!), they are often dressed more casually than they would be at the office. Of course, there are also all the jokes about people being in shorts or sweatpants since those are mostly out of sight on Zoom. Additionally, I think when people do occasionally go into the office, the offices are barely occupied so they also may dress less formally than they otherwise would.

Do you think this will stick around long-term, either because managers may observe that the dress expectations (presumably) don’t affect people’s productivity, and/or because employees don’t want to dress formally after getting a taste of more freedom?

It’ll vary from office to office and I can’t say with any more certainty than anyone else, but my prediction is that we’ll see some relaxing of dress codes — but still staying somewhere within the business casual spectrum, not going full sweatpants-and-flip-flops. And some offices will go right back to where they were before the pandemic. (Others might do a hybrid model, where they’re more lax some of the time but you’re expected to dress up for client meetings.)

Readers, what’s your take?  Would staying very casual work in your office or industry? Realistically, is it likely to happen, which is a separate question? And people who have been on-site all along, have you observed any relaxing of dress codes this past year?

{ 358 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    It’s possible I might quote from some responses to this in an upcoming column, so please note if you don’t want me to do that with yours!

  2. Littorally*

    I stayed onsite as part of an office skeleton crew.

    Our dress codes were formally relaxed for the skeleton crew. Our office typically is business casual for non-client facing roles, and business professional for client facing. Currently, there is no client facing being done onsite for obvious reasons (and I’m not sure what the dress code is for client facing meetings from home). Our current in-office dress code is jeans ok, sneakers ok, t-shirts should be company t-shirts only.

    I expect they’ll change it back to business casual when everyone comes back to the office, but I anticipate we might have a rather more relaxed business casual than previously; we used to be at the high end of it, but I think we may not go back to that.

    1. Threeve*

      Do you mean if a t-shirt has writing/logos it can only be the company shirt but you can still wear plain ones, or that it’s a choice between the company tee or a typical biz-casual shirt?

      1. Littorally*

        Company tee is the only kind of tee allowed. Otherwise, it’s mostly polo shirts, though I’ve seen a few hawaiian shirts crop up under the “technically it is a button up shirt” excuse. I support this wholeheartedly but I’m not quite brave enough to go there myself :)

        1. Greg*

          Reminds me of the time my friends and I got bolo ties banned from my high school. All boys high school with a tie as a part of the dress code. We wore them for three days before there was an amendment to the student handbook.

    2. Not Casual*

      I’ve had a very different experience. My small team that has stayed in the office consists of me, my boss, and my grandboss, and our dress code hasn’t relaxed at all… if anything, it is even more formal than it was when there were more people in the office. My grandboss still wears a suit every day, and the “casual Friday” dress code of jeans is a thing of the past. I think this is because my bosses themselves aren’t casual people, and I’d rather follow their lead on our team’s dress code. We aren’t directly client facing but we do occasionally have meetings with external stakeholders. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that the people who are starting to float back into the office part time do dress pretty casually when they’re here (think, jeans and t shirts). My office is technically “open” now but for the most part people are still working remotely because managers are still allowing a lot of flexibility until around Labor Day.

      I think that people who are returning to offices that have had some employees working on site this whole time will have to change back to business casual as offices start to return to full capacity, if that was the norm or official dress code pre-COVID.

    3. Roaring 20s II: Electric Bugaloo*

      We’re going right back to work just as it was July 1st. Same dress code, same on site work, same schedules, etc. Not one thing will have changed. I suspect a lot of businesses will do the same.

      Keep in mind, the Flu of 1918 was followed by the Roaring 20s, an era of tremendous excess and hypercapitalism. I suspect that the next decade will be the same. After a year and a half of Covid hair and Covid sweatpants and Covid weight gain that we will see a swing to excessive displays of wealth through hair, clothing and restrictive body standards. Capitalism gonna capitalism and humanity hasn’t changed in the last century.

      1. Lizard Breath*

        interestingly, though, the 20s were a time when dress standards became a LOT less restrictive. No more corsets, hemlines crept up to the knee, men’s fashion developed more casual looks.

        I’d agree that we’re likely to see a swing towards conspicuous consumption in the form of travel, amenities, etc but I would guess that work styles are likely to continue to veer toward the comfy, but maybe focusing more on performance fabrics and comfortable cuts.

        Personally I’ve continued to be in the office this whole time (healthcare worker). We just got the news that we have to go back to business casual after being allowed to wear scrubs for the last year, which is bumming a lot of people out (I never wore scrubs because I was mostly doing telehealth so it seemed kind of pointless.)

    4. Anne Elliot*

      In the Before Times in my field (government law), we were wearing business casual if no client meetings or court/administrative appearances, and otherwise business professional. I think what is going to permanently change is the number of in-person client meetings and/or appearances we will have, not the dress expectations. But the effect will be a shift to more frequent business casual, not because the expectations have changed but because the nature of the work has.

    5. Anonymooose*

      Mine will still have a dress code but we are altering it from a “professional” formula to three criteria.
      – Is it practical?
      – Is it healthy?
      – Is it high performance?

      Our choice to use high performance is part of our shift from a task based team to results based. Everyone is encouraged to incorporate a health aspect to their attire, use running shoes instead of heels, yoga pants instead of tailored, be in head to toe Addidas instead of a suit, these are all ok. What matters is that you are well put together and represent the team well to clients and colleagues.

      The time off has helped us focus less on appearance at all costs to balancing appearance and performance. I’m actively encouraging everyone to skip on clothing or shoes that hurt them.

      1. Deborah*

        OMG I would be so tempted to come in wearing sports gear for sports I’ve never done and never will do.

        1. Editrix*

          I’m a figure skater. I skate in plain black leggings and top, but for this? I would break out ALL the sparkle.

  3. Dust Bunny*

    Everyone who’s back in at my workplace looks exactly the same as they did pre-COVID. We’re business casual *at minimum*; a lot of the sub-professional positions lean toward business casual but the professional ones often have obligations that would require them to dress up a little more. None of that seems to have changed.

    1. Momma Bear*

      We didn’t change our dress code or have a significant change in office attire, so anyone returning is expected to step up when they are in the office.

    2. JustaTech*

      Yup, at least in the departments that are back on site it’s the same range of business casual to casual-casual (the director wears either a polo or plain T-shirt, jeans and a fleece vest every day).
      But we’re also the lab folks, who tend towards more casual anyway (you’ve got to be able to move around in the lab, and there’s a regular risk of bleach). It’ll be interesting to see what the non-lab but also not-customer-facing folks wear when they come back.

      (Personally I wore “work clothes” for all of WFH because it helps me be in a work mindset, but I know I’m an odd one out for that.)

    3. Smishy*

      I’m honestly kind of looking forward to getting back into the office and wearing actual pants for a change. Sure, yoga pants since March 2020 has been comfy and all, but actually wearing dress slacks that match my cardigan sounds deliciously exotic at this point.

    4. Anon today*

      Late to the party, but same here. We were required to remain business casual throughout the entire past year, even though we were closed to the public. Other than a few weeks at the beginning and after a potential exposure, we’ve all been back in the office full-time. (My direct manager often says if she were in charge of dress code, we would be 100% business formal, and she’s adamantly opposed to WFH.)

  4. Czhorat*

    Oddly, I feel LESS likely to dress office-casual now. I’m working remotely 90% of the time, and the times I go into the office it will be as a stop between client meetings. That will often mean jacket and tie, not jeans and a golf shit.

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      Same here. Dressing casually from home (though on zoom I’ll throw a cardigan over my tank top to at least appear business casual), but the point of going to the office will be to meet with external clients and that will require the same standard that was held pre-pandemic.

    2. NerdyKris*

      Same. I used to work at a terrible job with zero dress code, so even though I’m a jeans guy all the time no matter the temperature, going into work with jeans makes me feel like I’m back there in an office of people in stained t-shirts. I’m not judging anyone else, I just still have that feeling of “I need to dress up so people take me seriously”, even if I could literally show up in jeans and a t-shirt and still be respected at my current job.

    3. Aleecheemo*

      Probably wise not to go anywhere wearing a golf shit, especially not your workplace…

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, I’m only in one day a week, so I tend to dress nicely on that day! But I imagine that will shift if/as we start moving around more and the novelty of wearing a nice dress decreases.

      1. kicking_k*

        I worked one day a week in-office before Covid and that’s exactly what I did – dress nicely on that day, because otherwise I never did. (I would then usually wear the same outfit to church!)

        Now I’m full-time and cycle commuting. I am practically the only person in-office every day. My female colleagues, when they are here, tend to wear black trousers/nice shirt and I am about to buy a second pair of black stretch jeans because I keep wearing those. I asked about dress code when I started here last autumn and was told… well… previously it was at the smarter end of business casual but just now nobody cares.

        I can’t wear heels anyway and have to be able to move in my clothes to do my job, so I’m hoping that jeans or loose dress/leggings will remain OK as a choice. I do still wear my dresses from my previous job (and am today) but options are nice and I’m no longer client-facing.

    5. knitcrazybooknut*

      Thank you so much for this typo. I have a terrible disciplinary meeting this afternoon, and “golf shit” is going to get me through the day.

      1. Czhorat*


        I’m kinda confused with all the reaction to that. “Golf shirt” is pretty much the same thing as a “polo shirt”, though less associated with the RL brand. It’s sort of a normal thing to wear in a casual office.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          I think everyone is reacting to the typo, not the type of shirt. :)
          “shit” vs. “shirt”

    6. le teacher*

      I am a teacher and we were virtual last spring, and hybrid this year. When we went back this year, I enjoyed dressing up for work.

    7. cmmj*

      We don’t have a formal dress code, pre-pandemic I was fine in athleisure because we had company provided yoga on lunch breaks. Now I’m far more likely to wear a silk blouse or casual dress just because it turns out I do have a limit to my love of lounge wear! And also no more yoga! Even though it’s out of step with my department culture (a very hoodies and jeans type gig. Yes, you may have figured it out, I work in tech) I just miss wearing my nice clothes and I’ll only be in twice a week, so putting on Outside Clothing will retain its novelty for a bit. I take a lot of pride in my personal style, but it never really felt worth it to show that side of me at work, at least not regularly. Now I’m excited–even if that means “Whoa! Fancy!” type comments (which happened once when I wore a t-shirt dress and sandals. It didn’t bother me, I’m just illustrating our unique working definition). This isn’t a work-related reason but the office is in a neighborhood I could never afford to live with amazing restaurants, so it will be fun to “dress the part” if I stop by a happy hour after work ever again.

  5. Random Commentor*

    We have already been told that our dress code is still in place when we go back to the office, but it was a pretty casual dress code in the first place – tidy clothing (no rips or stains), no flip flops, no shorts, dress up a bit for (rare) customer meetings.

        1. Random Commentor*

          We don’t have a specific rule about leggings. I’m guessing it would be a judgment thing – just don’t look like you came straight from the gym.

      1. Fricketyfrack*

        Ha, my job had to specifically address sweatpants and yoga pants when plans to return to the office started coming out too. I think most people asked about it jokingly, but you know there was someone who meant it.

        They did change ours to jeans allowed and that’s staying (with the caveat that if we have client meetings or court, we go business casual), but I’ve been looking pretty “dressed up” because I switched to those dress pant yoga pants a few years back and they’re more comfortable than my jeans. Everyone just thinks I’m a huge fan of looking extra professional, but mostly I just don’t want to wear pants with zippers or buttons ever again.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Same. We dress pretty casually until we know there’s a client meeting. Even then, it’s darker-colored jeans and a nicer sweater or shirt for that day. I do wear sandals, but no flippy floppies.

      I’ve been so spoiled to have always had a pretty casual dress code. Today I’m in the office and I’m wearing jeans, flats, and a plain dark green tshirt with no logos or writing that’s half-tucked. This is pretty much my go-to outfit.

  6. EngGirl*

    My office definitely didn’t. We had a really relaxed dress code for the bulk of Covid and then one day out of nowhere we were told we were going back to our pre-Covid dress code. It sucked.

  7. NerdyKris*

    Our company finally relaxed the dress code and is allowing jeans full time, unless you’re meeting with outside vendors. They described it as a “Dress for your day” scenario, and having people use their own judgement. It’s been a long struggle since we’re an international company and the CEO would point out that in the parent company’s country, we were already considered underdressed for work.

      1. My boss rocks*

        That’s how my office works, and I have a nice blazer and a pair of black heels in the office just in case.

        1. starsaphire*

          I love the Emergency Blazer! :)

          Also… is there really any difference between a scoop-necked shell and a scoop-necked plain T-shirt, once you put the blazer on? I can never tell one from the other, frankly.

          1. DataSci*

            Yeah, the shell costs more and you probably have to dry-clean it. Other than that, nah.

          2. Annika Hansen*

            The T-shirt feels so much nicer to wear :) At least for women, they made a lot of nicer T-shirts that are a little more fitted and I think work great under a blazer.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              I’ve been a big fan of J. Crew tshirts that are made with slightly nicer jersey fabric. There’s an outlet in my city and I find them pretty cheap (like $8) all the time! If I need to meet someone last minute, I just tuck it in or throw a jack over it.

          3. Anja*

            It’s the only clothes left in my office that I haven’t seen since beginning of March last year (other than quick IT stop-bys). Nicer shoes and the emergency blazer.

            Fun thing about that emergency blazer is that it comes in handy for different types of emergency too. We had a fire alarm one day. In winter. In Edmonton (-30 celsius, -22 fahrenheit, or so?) . All of us on our floor grabbed our coats. Our poor custodial person who probably has a locker somewhere else in the building was standing there in her short-sleeved shirt. Emergency blazer wouldn’t help all that much for extended exposure, but it meant no bare skin for her when moving from our building to winter muster point (inside a mall a block away). Emergency blazers for the win!

    1. Cat Tree*

      My company has had a policy of “dress for your day” for years now, and I never understood what that means. I just go by my previous work experience and what others are doing. I work in manufacturing so the dress is fairly casual, except when we have regulatory inspections and we are expected to wear something formal.

      Personally, I hope that yoga pants become equivalent to jeans. I actually don’t find jeans very comfortable and would love to wear stretchy yoga pants on Fridays instead.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I’m in an engineering field, and we can have offices, lab, and warehouse all in the same building. So people dress for the area they work in. Steel toe boots and jeans/sturdy pants for warehouse (required for safety), lab means business casual (chinos, polos) with no jewelry (electronics hazard), and slightly dressier business casual for the offices.

        I’m normally in the office portion. If I have to spend the day in the warehouse – say to update a safety procedure – then I have to wear safety boots. If the government program sponsor comes in, it’s full business dress for nearly everyone. So dress varies day-to-day.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          We had a similar approach when I worked at a manufacturing company. We supported shop floor software apps, and could technically be called to go down to the floor at any moment. Everyone had a pair of steel toe boots stored in a drawer, and wore jeans to work. One year a higher-up banned jeans in all office buildings and everyone was baffled. Started wearing them again the very next day after he was fired a year later.

      2. A Social Worker*

        They are pricey, but Betabrand has “yoga pant dress pants” that are incredibly comfortable and look polished. I highly recommend them. I have three pairs that I wear A LOT and they have lasted two years at this point and saw me through pregnancy and postpartum at work.

        1. Simply the best*

          I see these recommended on the site all the time and I made the mistake of trying them. I found them terribly uncomfortable! They are nothing like actual yoga pants and the material they are made out of is so incredibly thick. Pulling on a pair felt like putting on a wet bathing suit.

          Just my two cents.

          1. A Person*

            Interesting, I have these and I love them! Definitely relatively thick material but I like that for cold audiences.

        2. Cat Tree*

          I’m pretty sure I looked into those and they don’t work for som reason. Either they don’t come in plus sizes or they don’t have pockets.

          1. A Social Worker*

            It’s the pockets, I wear a 2x (18-20 in various other brands of pants). I would love pockets, too. I have never worn real yoga pants so I wouldn’t know the difference, but I find them very comfortable!

          2. JustaTech*

            My Betabrand work yoga pants (that I’m currently wearing, and just did at-work yoga in) have *tons* of pockets. Two deep back pockets, two deep front pockets and two deep coin/watch pockets. They’re ideal travel pants except that the waistband is substantial and can get rather snug over time, and the material is very heavy so they also tend to be warm.

            I wore these pants on a work trip where I was in transit for >24hours (Europe, why are you so far away?) and they looked fine the whole time. (I looked like I’d taken a red eye and brushed my teeth in an airport sink, but the pants looked very professional.)

            Not all the Betabrand pants have pockets, and I don’t know how inclusive their size range is.

            1. First Time Caller*

              I love my DPYP!

              But… what undies do y’all like to wear under them? I feel like I’m always sporting a bit of a pantyline with them and so am reluctant to try wearing them actually to work when that time comes.

      3. JustaTech*

        Oh, dressing up for regulatory inspections. My office has those occasionally and it’s one of the few times we have a formal dress code. The last time it happened all the women dressed according to the code (no jeans, the business end of business casual), but all the senior men? Still in their scruffy jeans and white sneakers. Very frustrating.

    2. ThatGirl*

      This is what my company calls it too, though they instituted it a few years ago. Jeans are fine, they expect people to be a little “smarter” than just casual (no rips, no flip flops, no shorts, no band t-shirts) but not too dressy. Which is fine with me.

    3. Bee*

      Hah, this is pretty much how I have operated in my office – I have an outside meeting or event about once or twice a week (in non-plague times), so I’ll wear a pencil skirt or nice dress on those days, but jeans are fine the rest of the time. Of course, it was always jeans + a nice blouse or sweater, and I’m not sure whether I’ll be willing to do t-shirts instead now. We’re starting to go back into the office one day a week, so I guess we’ll see how I feel!

    4. Buggy Crispino*

      This is our scenario too. Might or might not be the same company but our former CEO had her own thoughts on dress codes that nobody else really agreed with. New CEO seems more in tune with what’s going on in the working world and the dress code was one of the first of many changes.

      1. caps22*

        Ugh, I used to work at a firm where the (male) managing partner had very particular ideas about the dress code, particularly the women’s dress code. What made it worse is that it would change almost yearly, which meant shoes that had been ok suddenly weren’t, so I had to buy new ones. For a new (broke) grad working for the first time in a more formal workplace, it was really frustrating.

    5. Irish girl*

      We have a “Dress for your day” dress code here. Most people in the office daily don’t see external people so wearing jeans with a nice shirt is acceptable. No rips, no shorts, no flip flops and no leggings. Some people dress more casually and some more businessy. I actually wear skirts and dresses in the summer over jeans since they are more comfortable when it is hot.

      I am in the office 2 days a week now and most people are within the pre-Covid dress code. Not sure what people are doing on video calls with outside stakeholders but i would assume they are trying to be close to what they would wear if they were visiting in person.

    6. No Longer Looking*

      That’s a good description – we’ve shifted to that as we recently returned to the office. Dress code used to be business casual, now it is casual unless there is an announced client visitor or business meeting in the office.

  8. Charlotte Lucas*

    My office dress code is pretty much “dress appropriately.” I have worn t-shirts more than usual in the past year, but I still dress up more if the meeting calls for it. (My camera is set up so you don’t really see below my shoulders in a meeting.) I bought some new clothes recently, because I wanted to have work-appropriate outfits for the return to the office. I think most people in my office will just dress how they prefer. (And, as usual, dress up more for meeting external people or higher-ups.)

    1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      Our workplace is also a “dress appropriately” with minimal (possibly zero?) written rules. There’s gossip whenever someone doesn’t quite hit the mark and some course-correction from management in extreme cases/lengthy patterns of less-appropriate attire. People absolutely dress for the meetings they have and the work they may be doing. A lot of my coworkers bought new workwear in anticipation of returning to full-time, on-site work – so the halls feel a bit like a fashion runway now, LOL.

    2. londonedit*

      Same. Publishing has always been fairly relaxed anyway – people will go smart/casual for meetings with authors, but no one wears suits and ties. Men usually wear jeans and shirts, or jeans and a smart t-shirt, maybe with a casual blazer, and women either wear jeans and tops or smart/casual dresses (the midi dress and trainers look had been a huge trend in London publishing houses pre-pandemic). Some people prefer to dress up more than others, but it’s personal choice. No one cares if you wear jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t see anything changing when we go back to the office.

  9. WellRed*

    Ours had slowly morphed from biz casual, jeans only on Friday to casual even before the pandemic. I don’t think it will relax further. I am going to a conference next month and will be dressed business.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I feel the same. Caveat: I am full time work from home for about 6 years now.

      Before I started working from home I was pushing the limits of casual dress code and I don’t think I or my workplace would get more relaxed than that. I pretty much wore jeans (none faded) all the time. (I had started with more slacks but then moved to jeans. because the jeans had a bit more stretch and fit better after a while.) I wore pull over but business appropriate tops that didn’t tuck in – for comfort and best appearance. I never wore t-shirts to work. I wore flats (lots of clarks) and colored/patterned socks both of which which I miss having an appropriate opportunity to wear now (since I live in the south and it’s shorts weather 9-10 months out of the year).

      I’d never consider flip flops appropriate work attire.

      Also work attire for me is picked to keep me warm in 70-75 degree room where I sit all day. In real life I wear short and flip flops a lot, but I’d freeze in both of them in an office. I wear them in my home office, but I control the A/C there and it’s set above 75 degrees always.

    2. ophelia*

      Agreed. My team already leaned heavily toward the fleeces-and-granola vibe; we certainly haven’t gotten more formal during COVID, but it’s likely that when we go back to the office, it’ll be primarily for specific meetings–our organization has already given up multiple floors of a building–so I think we’ll end up dressing up a bit to be in the office?

  10. rebecca*

    I work in tech so we already have a relaxed dress code. I wouldn’t wear sweatpants to work, but many times I wore leggings and a long sweatshirt or sweater and nobody had an issue. Jeans and T-shirts are standard. I’ve worn leggings and a sweatshirt to work more times than I can count.

    Nobody really cares what you wear in tech so long as you’re fully dressed and your clothes aren’t outright offensive to someone. It’s one of the things I love about my industry.

    1. code red*

      Another tech person here. We already had such a relaxed dress code before the pandemic that I sincerely hope it doesn’t relax any further or it might get indecent. It was pretty typical to see people walking around in shorts and flip-flops pre-pandemic, including the VP.

      I agree with you on it being a major perk of working in this industry. I pretty much own flip flops and a pair of sneakers for when I work out.

      Management hasn’t even broached the subject of requiring us to come back in office yet, so who knows when we will. We have the option of going in if we want and a few co-workers will go work from the office occasionally for a change of scenery, but there’s typically only ever one person in the office at any given time, if that.

      1. many bells down*

        My spouse is in tech and there was a guy in his office who just… didn’t wear shoes. Ever. We do not live on a tropical island.

        1. Blackcat*

          My PhD advisor often went shoe-less in the warmer months. He’d wear flip flops to work and then just leave them in his offices.
          I went to grad school in New England.

        2. code red*

          There used to be a person who walked around the office barefoot or in socks. Everyone was pretty grossed out by it on their behalf, but as far as I know no one even said anything to them.

          1. SarahKay*

            I came on site late one evening and found our security guard walking round the building without his shoes. I had to log it as a safety incident (higher risk of slipping) and all safety incidents for the previous day get looked at by the entire site at their start-of-day team meetings.
            I had somewhat thoughtlessly input it as “Security guard walking round in just his socks”. Guess how many comments I got that day asking “Was he really not wearing anything except for socks?!?”

            1. Skeeder Jones*

              yes, there is a huge safety liability to the company if they let employees go shoeless! But I think it’s funny your coworkers thought you also meant naked!

          2. Irish girl*

            We had a manager who would wear slip on sandals and walk around without shoes or socks. Most of use were like “What?!?! You want your feet on this gross carpet?”

        3. appo*

          Different cultures! :) In my country we dont wear shoes inside personal homes, but usually in public places. During pandemic many people on-site have started to go shoeless.

          1. sambal*

            Yep, grew up and spent years working in a culture where you take your shoes off in the office. My North American friends were shocked to hear this!

          2. Mona Lisa*

            I live in Asia and we always take our shoes off when we enter any house. I have seen some offices where this is the case, but slippers are ALWAYS provided. Kindergartens the same. There is almost always a shoe rack by the door and sometimes a bench to sit on while changing your shoes.

        4. Cat Tree*

          This sounds more like a health and safety issue more than a formality issue. If a grocery store or other public place wouldn’t let you in, it’s not really appropriate for work. I think that is a reasonable bar to set.

        5. Skeeder Jones*

          Interesting. In most places I’ve worked, shoes were always a requirement (and specifically closed toe shoes) due to liability if something fell on the foot, their scenario was what if a file cabinet tipped over and the employee injured their foot. Based on all the responses to your comment, seems like a lot of places let people go barefoot (or maybe don’t know that people are doing that) and don’t think of the liability.

          1. appo*

            Yes, if a cabinet fell on anybody’s feet, the company would pay. (And possibly, The, establish a rule to wear shoes,) but like I said, it’s not a norm, but some people do that, and it’s not strange enaugh to raide eyebrows.

            But also, in an environments, where it’s likely to happen, ie, in factories and such, the emplyee must provide proper shoes. Even when I was a temp for only 3 months in a factory, the company I was working for, had to provide hardtoe shoes. Like I said, different cultures

        6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          We had a similar guy at OldJob. He would wear sandals without socks year round. While working at his desk, he’d remove the sandals and put his bare feet up on the desk, facing the aisle. I sat in the same row of cubes as that guy and had a full view of his bare feet from my desk. It was… not great.

      2. PurplePartridge*

        Also in tech and had a shoeless guy at my last job, just socks. He was on a panel interview for a potential new hire once and walked into the room and said “oh, I should wear shoes for this” and left to go put his shoes on.

      3. Rebecca Stewart*

        My boyfriend works as a data architect, and picked up a gig teaching a college class to tide him over. He wears what he wore to work back then; long-sleeved button-down, with black slacks.
        Our concession to work from home was to get elastic-waist khakis which are kinder to sit in for long periods, and no one knows on Zoom. He has said that if his next job is a hybrid that he will wear fixed waistbands when he goes to the office because he’ll feel more comfortable that way, and save the elastic waists for the home office.
        He grew his hair out, but he’s good enough to do that.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Similar situation here. My office wear used to be a nice blouse and jeans, and I was more formally dressed than most of the other developers around me. Since going home, everyone who isn’t meeting with clients regularly has been wearing T-shirts. Heaven knows what they’re wearing below the waist (if anything).

      I did get the nice blouses out again recently when I had to go to a couple (online) client meetings. The client’s tech people turned up at those meetings in T-shirts.

    3. Data Bear*

      Same. I’m in science, and in Colorado, where business-casual includes looking like you’re going to head off into the mountains as soon as this meeting is over. The only time anyone wears a tie is when they’re giving a presentation.

      At one point we had a director who defaulted to wearing a suit and tie. Someone had to pull him aside and tell him that this wasn’t DC, and he was seriously overdressed.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        My dad came to my dissertation defense. He asked about what to wear. I told him that if he was in a suit, he’d be seriously overdressed, as literally no one else in the room would be wearing a suit. I was likely to be the most formally dressed person there simply because it was my defense, and that the way you could tell I would be way more formally attired than anyone else was that I’d be wearing non-denim pants and shoes that I couldn’t go for a run in. My advisor, and most of the other science professors, would be wearing jeans, flannel, and athletic shoes.

        I don’t think he actually believed me, so he wore a suit, tie, wingtips, the whole thing. And was absolutely the only one there dressed like that, and stood out.

        Some people really don’t get that being way too formal for the occasion is also a thing to be avoid, just like being way too informal.

  11. HR Exec Popping In*

    I think it will be a mix. Some jobs – client facing specifically – will generally continue to be more professional. But I can fully see more organizations that have been more professional up until the pandemic adopting a more business casual style. I don’t think you will see most business go as far as start-up tech companies where shorts, tees and hoodies are common attire.

    I know that with my company, over the years we moved to what I would call nice business casual but I’m planning on continuing to wear sneakers even when we start returning to the office. And I think more t-shirts (with a jacket or cardigan) will creep into my work attire as well.

  12. awesome3*

    I think they’ll relax some, the way dress codes have been relaxing over the years. I’m currently wearing jeans, dress shoes, and a button down, and it’s not even a Friday. It’s been so far from anyone’s priority this year, that it’s unlikely to bother anyone, and makes more sense for people to be comfortable. I have seen a lot more people in either black jeans or regular jeans with a blouse or shirt. Even someone who dresses on the more formal side of our staff’s sliding scale in normal years, so that’s how I knew my outfit today would be ok. I am curious if the change will be formalized.

  13. Spreadsheets and Books*

    Honestly, I can’t see the dress code changing in my office (finance function for large entertainment conglomerate), as much as I’ve enjoyed wearing literal workout clothes every day for the last 14 months. But I’m the kind of person who wore leggings that looked like dress pants and blazers made of sweatshirt on a normal day pre-pandemic, so besides making the full time switch to sports bras once we’re back in the office (which I indeed plan to do), I’m not sure how much further my work wardrobe could slide.

    1. Spreadsheets and Books*

      To clarify, our pre-pandemic dress code was professional attire M-Th, jeans on Fridays.

    2. Sapientia*

      Ah, I love my blazer made of soft cloth, as well, it is so comfy!
      Might I ask where you buy your
      leggings and blazers? I’d like to follow your example!

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        Betabrand has great dress pant yoga pants. For a discount option, I also like Old Navy’s Stevie Ponte-Knit pants. They’re basically heavyweight leggings but with a thick seam that runs down the front so they look a little more professional. New York & Co has some comfy pull-on work pants, too. I’ve found some nice cozy blazers from Old Navy, Express, and Banana Republic in the past, but nowhere consistent comes to mind. Some higher end athletics companies, like Athleta, sell comfy work clothes, too.

        I have shocked many a colleague over the years by telling them my work pants are actually leggings from Old Navy.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I also wear Old Navy’s Stevie Ponte-Knit pants. Dress up and down beautifully, and accommodates fluctuations in my figure…

  14. AndersonDarling*

    I’m expecting to see more flats and less heels.
    I think there will still be skirts/slacks and dressy tops, but they will lean more toward easy care poly and away from high maintenance knits.
    Generally, we will remain business casual, but more focused on easy care clothes and personal comfort.

    1. The Original K.*

      I haven’t worn heels since last March when I was sent home to work remotely. I was switching my cold weather/warm weather clothes the other day and I tried on a pair of heels, and I thought “wow, it’s high up here.” And I enjoyed heels before – I’m tall and I enjoyed adding even more height – but I honestly am not sure about them now. I may ease back in this summer. My friend was telling me that she recently walked behind someone who was wobbling in her heels and I was like “That’s going to be so many women when we go back to wearing them regularly!”

      1. Annie Moose*

        Ha, I pulled out a pair of heels for church the other Sunday and discovered I am badly out of practice. I have a bit of a short complex (ironically, I’m not short–the problem is just that all the other women in my family are very tall) so I used to love heels but I’ve been reconsidering now as well! Wedges or platforms might be the way to go…

      2. SD*

        Now might be a good time for women to consider why they ever wore heels in the first place. The classical reason is that they make the female leg look sexier and add a certain swish to the walk, all to entice the interest of men. After that, I guess, came women who just loved the look, but then women have been fans of tight corseting that restricted breathing and pencil skirts so pencil that they prevented free movement at various times in history. So heels: foot, calf, knee, and back pain, hammer toes and weakened ligaments, not to mention ankle sprains. The choice isn’t between flip-flops and Jimmy Choos, there are a lot of non-crippling choices in between. It’s worth considering as women go back to the office.

        1. Dahlia*

          90% of the time corsets were worn for breast support and to support the weight of your clothing. Tight lacing was not nearly as common as media would have you believe.

        2. FisherCat*

          *shrug* I just like looking extra tall. I have various pain conditions that make full time heel wearing infeasible, but I do like to wear them for events/ meetings/ presentations. And I still will, post-covid even if we’re allowed to dress more casually (which is my dearest professional wish if we’re not allowed permanent WFH, which we are not)

          1. The Original K.*

            Yeah, I like adding even more height and to be blunt, I have great legs and heels make them look even better. I did mix in flats and vary heel heights to be considerate of the health of my feet, and as I said, I haven’t worn heels since last March, but my motivation for wearing heels was/is that I like the way they make my legs look. It’s the same reason I wear fairly short shorts and skirts (though not to work).

    2. Rain rain go away*

      I’ve returned to the office (a few times a week) and the first time I wore heels…ouch! I’m usually barefoot at home so any type of non-flip-flop was going to be a struggle. I’ve adjusted slowly.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have been saying that the three businesses guaranteed to thrive post-COVID are dog walkers, doggy daycare, and podiatrists.

        I bought a gorgeous pair of wedges last April and have worn them for about 45 seconds total. I am fully remote anyway but have to dress for client visits, which won’t resume until 4Q. I’m looking forward to wearing “real” shoes, but I am bracing myself for the initial break-in period.

      2. Hillary*

        I’m dreading having to wear real shoes again – it’s been sneakers/hiking boots, Toms, or Birkenstocks for a year now. I just put on a pair of structured loafers to go meet someone for lunch and it feels so strange.

        1. kicking_k*

          I have felt the same about my “interview shoes” for years. I have very flat feet and can’t wear heels at all or most smart shoes for long unless they have a lot of support and can take my orthotics, but I wear lowheeled pumps for interviews. And almost have to re-teach myself to walk in them every time.

          My usual work shoes are lace-up boots, Mary Janes or smartish trainers. Nobody’s ever complained.

    3. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      See, I think the difference in “acceptable” footwear will be the biggest lasting impact in my workplace. Flip-flops will likely still not be acceptable 98% of the time, but everyone seems much more inclined to overlook an athletic sneaker or slightly dressy sandals when previously flats or more formal footwear was the norm.

    4. Tiny Magnolia*

      Yes, this! I purchased a couple of pairs of new flats just for this reason. I tried to wear heels — even previously-comfy ones — and it just wasn’t comfortable. I also bought some new tshirt dresses that I can pair with cardigans for office wear because, um, waistbands suck. Dresses for the win!

    5. ecnaseener*

      I predict a higher-than-before ratio of pants to skirts, from all the women who haven’t shaved their legs in a year and decided they like it. Or maybe professional maxi-skirts will make a comeback.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am here for the maxi skirt at work. (I pair mine with a solid color shell and a blazer, personally.)

      2. Miss V*

        My office dress code is already so casual that when I wear a maxi skirt with a solid colored t shirt knotted at the waist I always get compliments on how nicely dressed I am. I’ve yet to reveal to everyone that I’m wearing it because I haven’t shaved my legs and everything is a knit, so I could go to a buffet and gorge myself and still be comfortable

    6. Stormy Weather*

      I’ve been down to only wearing heels to interviews, formal dinners, and weddings. My commute, when I go back to it, will be by subway, so I just keep a pair of pretty and comfy ballet flats in in my backpack. We have offices in three other states, so we’ve been doing video calls as a regular thing anyway. Nobody’s looking at my feet.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same, although I gave up heels after a year-long break due to pregnancy and mat leave. When I tried to wear a pair once I went back to work after leave, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This. And I think more women are going to be shifting the types of bras to more comfortable versions, whatever that looks like for them. I know I need to go bra shopping!

  15. Neosmom*

    Working in the offices for a warehouse, my dress code did not change from at-work to WFH to back-to-work. Dressy jeans or flowy wrap skirts with nice t-shirt tops and flat shoes or bright white tennis shoes. A little more casual on Fridays.

    Our on-site customer service team relaxed their dress code and many on that team were wearing items so inappropriate that HR had to issue a mandatory dress code policy. Now we do not see the yoga pants (in the office) or the ripped jeans (anywhere in our facilities).

  16. KHB*

    We were at the relaxed end of the business casual spectrum before the pandemic, and I can’t imagine we’ll relax too much beyond that. Then again, I’m one of those rare people who’s been wearing pants this entire time, so you might not want to ask me.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Me too! I decided early into the pandemic that wearing pants was a line I would not cross over. :)

      1. The Original K.*

        I’ve mostly worn “hard pants” (jeans) the whole time, although I do wear sweats sometimes. And many women have said they stopped wearing bras, but I’ve kept wearing them – I find it uncomfortable not to.

        1. StressedButOkay*

          Same here! There’s something about not getting fully dressed that just robs me of my will to work. Jeans and casual shirts (and bras!) and sometimes sweats but I have to get dressed to tell my brain it’s worktime.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Agree on the bras!

          I often have to sit on the floor or my bed while working (small shared space), so I might wear yoga pants & a dressy blouse.

          Now that it’s warming up, I’ve been wearing more loose dresses, as they are so comfy.

        3. My boss rocks*

          That’s me too, getting ready in the morning gets me into “work mode”, so I´ve pretty much continued to dress like if I was going to the office.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, me too. I haven’t switched up or down on my clothes at work. I wear t-shirts that are long-sleeved in winter and 3/4 or shorter in summer, but never sleeveless because I don’t like the way my upper arms look, big or small patterns are fine but I haven’t seen anyone wearing prominent logos or text and the same jeans I wore before WFH. In the summer, if it gets too hot for jeans, I have a few pairs of what used to be called “harem pants” that are loose in the leg but have elastic at the bottom. I’m fairly big in the chest and not wearing a bra would be uncomfortable for me and would mean hell for my posture.

            Before I return to the office I’m going to have to buy a couple of new pairs of jeans at least, my old ones are getting a bit too worn to wear at the office. The selling point on the shirts I buy is that they’re a flexible weave that doesn’t need to be ironed as long as I shake them out and hang them on a clothes line.

            I haven’t worn any other shoes except sneakers and snow boots since March 2020…

    2. glitter writer*

      I’m in about the same boat. My field tends toward relaxed business casual (I wore skinny jeans and nice tops to the office in the before times) unless you have an important meeting or interview, and I don’t see that changing post-pandemic. (Though I likewise kept dressing the same way at home throughout, haha. I’m even wearing real pants right now! Well, real shorts. It’s quite hot today.)

      Although actually we might see some dressing up for the first few months once we reopen (tentatively October), simply because some folks will be so excited to have a reason to touch the forgotten halves of their closets again.

      1. KHB*

        Yeah, that’s about where we were pre-pandemic: Most people would wear khakis and button-down shirts (or thereabouts), but nobody would bat an eye if you showed up in nice jeans and a nice plain t-shirt. Maybe post-pandemic the balance might shift a little bit toward jeans and t-shirts, but I really can’t see us going full sweats-and-flipflops.

        I’m actually a little scared of the forgotten half of my closet (my nicer button-downs, mostly), because I’m not sure how much of it still fits me….

  17. Nonny*

    I work in higher ed as a staff member, and our dress codes have gotten somewhat more relaxed than they were before COVID. It used to be on the formal side of business casual 24/7, but now, for non-student periods (like holiday breaks and the summer months), we’re allowed to wear casual clothes/university branded t-shirts/jeans unless we have formal meetings that require a higher dress code.

  18. OrigCassandra*

    Academia here. Pre-pandemic was typically the low end of business casual, further relaxed if need be (like, you’re moving furniture or books or en-masse files between offices or something), somewhat more formal for more formal situations such as interviewing candidates or having a VIP visit.

    Zoom: sweatshirts, T-shirts, etc.

    Post-pandemic: I’m guessing it’ll go back to mostly what it was. Casual(er) Fridays seem likely to become a thing.

    I actually haven’t changed my sartorial behavior much, because work clothes help me separate work from home in my head while working from home. For the most part, my shop is just not the clothes police, and I don’t really see that changing.

    1. Jay*

      I’m in healthcare doing home visits. Our dress code for visits is khakis and polo shirts (preferably company branded but not required). Sneakers allowed since we climb stairs and tromp through yards. No denim for patient encounters – denim allowed in the office. I’ve interpreted that as “no blue denim” and I wear jeans of various other colors. I do tend to dress up a bit more than most of my colleagues because I enjoy it – I wear skirts and dress pants and blazers with dressier blouses and sweaters. We switched to 100% telehealth for the first month of the pandemic and after a couple of days I realized I appreciated the separation of putting on work clothes and then taking them off at the end of the day, so I would work out, shower, put on real clothes, settle in to my desk, and then change into yoga pants or leggings after I was done.

    2. PrgrmMngr*

      I shifted to government work last year – the norm in video calls is definitely far below what I’d expect in the office (and in my non-profit career, I did interact with other government staff in-person). I think it’s returning to whatever old office clothes we have (or new ones to fit post-covid bodys) whenever we go back.

    3. A Genuine Scientician*

      Also in academia, and honestly the dress code in my unit is way more driven by official safety protocols than anything else. When in a lab, no exposed skin other than neck up and arms, nothing so loose and flowing that it’s likely to get in the way of an open flame. Most of us stick to that if we’re physically present just in case we have to fill in for someone last minute on a day/time we’re not normally scheduled. People would probably get side-eye if they were wearing sweatpants for anything other than something like “I spilled acid on my normal pants and these were what I had in my office as a backup”, but jeans are typical and t shirts are not uncommon even while teaching, though sometimes with either a sweater or a flannel over it. My field dresses that way at scientific conferences too.

  19. Coenobita*

    I am SO curious to see how this will play out on Capitol Hill/in the U.S. legislative branch. I work for an advocacy org in DC; my employer has a very casual dress code, but all of us who do lobbying had a suit in a garment bag hung up at our desks in case we had to run down to the Hill for an unexpected meeting. The first few video calls I had with Congressional staff last year, everyone was wearing a blazer. Now, if I log onto a zoom call with Senator Fancypants’ staff, they’re all wearing t-shirts like the rest of us. I’m super curious to see if any of this remains when they/we go back. I mean, I don’t see myself wearing jeans to a lobby meeting anytime soon or anything, but it would be really nice to wear slacks and a sweater instead of a suit!

    1. FisherCat*

      I’ve heard this called the “fed costume”… I’d be happy to see it go by the wayside also!

    2. Recovering Hill Staffer*

      I’m a registered federal lobbyist at a nonprofit and I’m interested, too. I still wear a blazer for video meetings with members and with staff I don’t know well. If it’s someone I’ll spend the first ten minutes chatting/catching up with, I’m okay with my usual-these-days solid color t-shirt and cardigan. I’ve definitely noticed more sweatshirts and casualwear on the other side of the screen. As much as I’d love to take it down a notch when I’m allowed to travel to DC again, I don’t think the members are going to do that so I also have doubts about the staff.

      1. L in DC*

        Agree with this. I think recess will continue to be the domain of formal dress respite. Obviously the House is a little more of a free for all versus the Senate.

  20. Lawyer*

    I’m a lawyer, and I’ve been doing court on the telephone (audio only) since last March. I’ve done many hearings in pajamas or gym clothes. I fully expect I’ll have to put on a suit again once in person court resumes. Law is a slow-changing profession. It was still controversial for women to wear a pant suit only two decades ago.

    1. Also a Lawyer*

      Also a lawyer. I’m at a small firm and we were business professional pre-pandemic, even if we were not meeting with clients. Since we’ve been back in the office we have adopted a more relaxed dress code (unless we are meeting with clients or going to Court) and I believe it’s here to stay. Like Lawyer said, it’s a slow changing profession so relaxed for us still means business casual (no jeans) but we are not wearing suits everyday like we were pre-pandemic.

      1. mom of two*

        Our law firm actually moved to “jeans allowed” during COVID (obviously not when meeting with clients, etc) and I hope it never goes back…

  21. Rusty Shackelford*

    We’re already back in the office and our dress code (business casual, no jeans) has not changed at all.

  22. JillianNicola*

    The office I work for was previously business professional (I work for a financial advisor), but went to business casual for Covid. They said when I onboarded that once the pandemic was over and they were bringing clients into the office again, they would go back to business professional, but that was in August and I think there was still some optimism that it would be over soon. Now that it’s stretched for over a year, I’m not sure what they’ll decide to do. I know a lot of the advisors (and all of the support staff) would be perfectly fine with biz casual, even with client meetings, but I can see the C-suite resisting that idea – the COO in particular wasn’t happy with the dress code change in the first place.

  23. The Original K.*

    The job from which I was laid off in August was in financial services, so it was on the dressier side of business casual. The majority of us went remote in March. There were a few people who had to go in sporadically, and I’m told all that business casual fell by the wayside for those who had to go in – everyone was in jeans, men stopped shaving, etc.

    A friend of mine works for a Fortune 50 company you’ve heard of and she said she was pretty surprised by how people, including very senior people, gave up on dressing nicely once they went remote – she dressed up as usual for her first video call and she was the only one.

    I’m not sure if the job from which I was laid off is back in the office or plans to be, but I would bet that if and when they do they go back to more formal dress. I hear that the Fortune 50 company where my friend works plans to do a hybrid situation where you maybe go in a couple of days for meetings and spend the rest of the week remote. If that does happen, I would assume people would be expected to dress up when they’re in the office.

    I have some new consulting work now and I’ve kept it casual (right now I’m in shorts, which no one will see, and a solid-color t-shirt, which people will see). The majority of people I have calls with are also casual. (I am also actively job-hunting and I do dress up for video interviews – but the people I interview with are always dressed down. I can’t think of an interview I’ve had where the interviewers are dressed up.)

    1. Jane*

      Your friend’s company sounds similar to mine (global investment banking) – once the WFH order came, everyone went super casual and instantly very senior people would be on internal meetings in hoodies and tshirts, it was a big surprise to me. It’s a global company and as regions have returned to the office they’ve returned to formal dress though, it’s not unusual to be on a global call with those in the office in suits and those at home in casual wear.

  24. ratatatcat*

    I work in a small company in very conservative field (think accounting, banking, etc, where brown dress shoes were considered taboo not that long ago). Before, we were pretty much in pantsuits every day, then during WFH everyone was totally unprepared and we switched radically to basically smart casual (ie, mostly polo shirts/sweaters/blouses with some occasional tshirts). Now, as people get their vaccines, staff are trickling back into the office (although not yet doing client meetings) and the conversation’s coming up…
    Staff want to stay casual. CEO does not. There are of course pleeeenty of compromises but I feel like this is actually an “extertion of control vs assertion of autonomy” office politics thing, so I’m anticipating it becomes a drawn-out battle of wills.

  25. Erin*

    I’m sure a lot of places will relax their dress codes, but I also think business casual clothes themselves will start to change. I know I’ve already seen that a lot of women’s stores that sell business casual clothes were already making more bottoms with more stretch or tie waists instead of buttons and zippers. The real question is whether men’s business casual would ever follow that lead.

    1. The Original K.*

      There’s a lot of loose clothing on sale for women right now – lots of flowy dresses, dresses without defined waists, etc. I’m sure that’s a response to more people dressing for comfort in the last 15 months.

    2. Frank Doyle*

      I agree. And like someone above said, fewer heels, more flats. The dress code parameters themselves might not change, but the way we meet them will.

      I think before last year, jeans were an emblem of “casual,” and now many have realized that sitting around in jeans all day can actually be pretty uncomfortable!

    3. TWW*

      Men’s business casual has been easy and comfortable for years.

      I have a pair of leather shoes that is every bit as comfortable as any sneaker, black socks identical to athletic socks, and chinos made of soft, slightly stretchy fabric that would be comfortable to sleep in.

      Even dress shirts are now a little stretchy. And if you can wear a polo shirt, that’s basically a t-shirt with 2 buttons and a collar.

  26. Itsa Me, Mario*

    Ours was definitely business causal (slacks Monday-Thursday with collared shirts or a nice top (or a dress/skirt. etc.), and jeans allowed on Friday), but my company has officially updated our dress code to “dress for your day.” Basically, if you’re meeting clients, doing something outward facing, etc. you still need to wear slacks and a nice shirt, but if your day is internal stuff, you’re free to wear jeans and a basic tee, etc. So we still can’t wear sweats or leggings (which, fair), but we can be a lot more casual now. I like it.

    1. Spooncake*

      Yeah, my company is taking a similar approach- we were already going that way anyway but it’s become much more official that you can dress for comfort on a desk-based day and dress more formally when interviewing, having meetings, etc. I like it a lot- I think it makes more sense for dress codes to be based on the activities you’re expecting to do on a given day rather than the whole role.

    2. ratatatcat*

      Yeah I like this idea a lot! I guess the downside is it opens up a lot of subjectivity on what’s appropriate (which, given some of the letters on AAM, seems to be a rly sensitive topic!)

  27. anonymouse*

    Our office took the head-on approach. They made it clear that we are reverting to our previous dress code and there will be no discussion, no debate, no “oops, forgot/wasn’t sure/thought maybe…” We’ve been told very clearly, “The dress code for each office will return to the pre-Covid regulations.” So it was fun while it lasted, but like all good things it came to an end.

  28. Crystal*

    We were a business casual office pre-pandemic and still are, but where jeans were not acceptable except on Fridays before, now that’s pretty much what we all wear every day. In my case with a nice, solid color t-shirt and a cotton/linen blazer.

    There were no discussions around it, we all just morphed into this new normal when few were in the office and it stayed as more and more came back. At this point none of the executives have said anything, so it seems to be okay LOL!

  29. basically gods*

    There’s been a bit of a spike in formality at my office, mostly because people are excited to have a reason to wear nicer clothes, but I also work in software, so the expectations as far as dress code go are…pretty lax to begin with.

  30. christine*

    We haven’t talked about it, but given how atrociously my school is handling the rest of return to office, I expect we’ll be required to go right back to where we were pre-Covid. Despite the fact that we can all get our work done in jeans and we’re almost never seen by students. I’m not looking forward to it at all.

  31. InNeedOfAName*

    I think region will play a role, too. I’m on the west coast and I’ve never had a job where the dress was business formal. My last office position got rid of the dress code. I currently work at an all-remote company and it’s been business casual/casual dress for employees. People wear T-shirts. Sometimes people wear a slightly nicer top, but there’s no formal dress code. I’ll throw on a blazer from time to time, usually when I’m cold! But I’ll just as easily bundle up in a comfy sweater.

    1. Simply the best*

      I agree, region and industry are going to play a big role. I live in the Pacific Northwest so we are already much more casual than most places. I was in my office last week and was dressed more casually than I normally would have before the pandemic (was in jeans and vans). A new coworker who has only been remote up until now asked our boss what the dress code will be going forward once we’re back in the office officially and our boss pointed to me and said what I was wearing was a good standard. So we’re definitely going the casual route for in the office. In our zoom meetings, we’ve definitely all been in super casual lounge clothes. Probably people dressed up a little bit if they were going to be in client facing meetings, but all our internal stuff we’ve joked about being in our pajamas.

  32. desk platypus*

    For Covid my office allowed a slightly more relaxed dress code to allow for clothes that could more easily be cleaned due to all the cleaning supplies used and how unsure we were of infections on surfaces. This meant client facing staff could wear sneakers. Before covid, pantyhose was required for bare legs and even wearing flats (though most people ignored the flats one) except during the summertime when bare legs were okay. Because pantyhose are harder to easily clean on the go that requirement was done away with much to our great relief and we’re all hoping it’s finally a done away with rule.

    1. PT*


      Do you work in Buckingham Palace or do you commute via a time warp to 1960 every morning?

      1. desk platypus*

        It made me think of Buckingham Palace rules when I was hired! But I work through county level government and they’re ultra conservative and old fashioned.

      2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        lol! Right?! I grew up (and still live) in the Seattle-area, and I haven’t worn pantyhose since a cousin’s wedding on the East Coast in 2005. To be fair, I’ve also always worked in the tech industry, so even if I dressed up for a VP meeting (which I haven’t done for YEARS), I still never wore pantyhose. However, I also realize this is not the case in other parts of the US.

        1. Chinook*

          You might be surprised by hw much pantyhose has changed since 2005. I still wear them because they help with the “chub rub,” reduces the static cling (since slips are near impossible to find, though luckily a lot of eshakti’s dresses come lined) and allows me to go sockless comfortably) and I find that they have improved their use of lycra type material to the point that there is no bagging at the knees ever. And I can’t remember the last time I had a run that I couldn’t explain from snagging them on something big.

          Should they be required for everyone like before – hardly. But I can see them sticking around for the same reason corsets, bras and girdles/spanx have – these inner garments can help your outer garments look more polished and/or support body parts that may require some external support.

  33. It's me*

    Pre-covid our office was business casual, no jeans. During covid people were allowed to wear jeans every day if they had to be in the office. They have officially changed now to allow jeans every day for everyone going forward while remaining business casual for tops, so no t shirts or anything like that. I have enjoyed this change and still feel like I can wear my dress pants when I want to

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      This is almost exactly what our office has done. Jeans permitted, preferably dark, and not ripped/torn/’distressed’, with slightly dressier tops (no tshirts).

      I find it so much more comfortable, especially heading into winter (my previous work pants are a bit thin), and having adequate pockets is a definite bonus!

  34. vampire physicist*

    We’ve always been business casual for client-facing, tidy and appropriate but casual at the office, and the client-facing roles are also mostly the essential roles (including mine) so nothing really changed.
    I will say that while I know lots of people love a more casual dress code as a perk, in my limited experience, a super casual dress code (which costs the company nothing) has come hand-in-hand with fewer perks that actually improve my quality of life. I worked longer hours and had fewer vacation days at the jeans and t-shirt office than at places with more formal dress codes.

  35. Whynot*

    I think the pandemic just accelerated the trend toward business casual over the past 20+ years, and I’m all for it. I’m a GenX woman who remembers struggling to buy business suits as a new grad and office policies that dictated the very specific conditions under which I could wear a pantsuit and that otherwise my skirts must hit below the knee. These sorts of dress codes were usually administered in a pretty sexist fashion, and the clothes were both expensive and constricting. I recognize there are lots of different professional and cultural workplace norms out there, but I hope that a positive outcome from the past year is that more workplaces give their employees more flexibility in their attire as well as in their other working conditions.

  36. Res Admin*

    Everyone is just now starting to come back full time in the office and nothing seems to have substantially changed at my workplace. Still business casual with the occasional dress up/down for specific situations. This stayed pretty much the same for everyone when we were working from home for most of 2020 and 50/50 after the New Year. Except the dozen or so people who had babies and are still out on maternity leave (we had a baby boom).

    I know the only substantial change I made when working from home was to switch to black cotton pants (yes, I bought 10 pair of the same cheap comfy stretch-cotton pants) with the same tops I would wear to the office every day instead of a dress with heels or dress slacks–primarily because I have cats and they were tearing up my office clothes. Anyone who saw me stand up on Zoom would have seen black pants–and these do look nice enough that I could wear them in the office in a pinch.

    Then again, we started out with zoom check ins every morning when we first started working from home, so it still felt like we were “at the office”.

  37. c_taylor*

    I actually discussed this with my boss as we’re preparing to go back to the office on a more regular basis – I’m in a situation where none of my work appropriate clothing fits well any more and needed to determine how much of an effort to put into buying clothes (which I hate just. so much). It sounds like we’re veering towards more jeans and leggings friendly than we were when I first started, unless meeting with clients, in which case we should look nicer

    1. katertot*

      This is exactly where I am- I don’t like how a lot of my stuff fits, or I want less tight-fitting outfits (I was leaning towards this pre-covid and this just accelerated it) so I’m having the same internal dialogue on how much of my pre-covid wardrobe I replace/switch out if the workplace (even for part of the work week) will be more casual.

  38. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Sort of half and half really. There’s been a lot of acceptance of more comfortable footwear, which speaking as a disabled person is freaking amazing. There’s also been a move toward less policing of people’s hair/makeup etc.

    However…if anything we got more grief over any woman (it’s always the women) showing more than a cubic centimetre of below the collarbone or wearing tight clothing (or what is deemed to be too tight) now people are starting to return. Can’t prove it but think some of it comes from a higher manager who’s going on about how people got to dress modestly because we’ve been in our houses for a year and obviously self control is going to be an issue for a while.

    (The rumour mill is gooood when you work in Information Management)

    So it’s kinda confusing. They’re never going to allow jeans and t shirts here.

    1. Anxious Auditor*

      People are going to lose self control over a collarbone? What a very odd and disturbing thing to say

    2. ALM2019*

      Someone believing that people will lose all self control after a year inside might be the best think I’ve read on here all year. WHAT!!

      1. Elenna*

        I suspect this says a lot about that particular manager’s self-control, specifically…

      2. ecnaseener*

        Heck yeah I plan on losing control. Time for our next Roaring Twenties!
        Not at work though.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I plan on acting wild after this is over. Although 9 cups of tea a day instead of 12 (tea calms me down) is probably the worst I’m gonna get :p

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        He’s a senior exec who’s known for….well let’s say not liking #metoo a whole lot, but has either the brains to not do anything dodgy at work or the clout to make sure it never gets spoken of. Personally I think it’s the first, although I’d still never go into his office alone if I could help it.

  39. Rick*

    I am so fascinated by dress codes. It’s amazing the amount of cultural weight that people put on whether or not you hang a piece of fabric from your neck and whether the backs of your shoes reach a greater altitude than the fronts.

    1. jsmth*

      I have often been started and sometimes horrified at the levels of judgmentalness some people have about things which are functionally arbitrary and bear no relation to a person’s ability to actually perform their work (or may indeed impede it), like the specific fabrics or shapes of their clothing items.

      I think perhaps people who are keen on high conformity of visual presentation and/or might not realise how ableist strict/historical dress codes are. There are all sorts of issues people may have with their bodies that preclude forcing them into particular types of configuration caused by shoe shapes, waistbands, non-stretch fabrics on certain joints or organs, etc. Some have dexterity difficulties with certain fastenings. Or hypersensitivity to temperatures or fabric textures. Of course, some organisations believe Disabled, neurodiverse and chronically ill people do not belong in the workplace and use this as a way to exclude. In countries with laws about making reasonable adjustments, an individual might be given permission to modify their dress – but this requires them to publicly disclose and magnify their otherness, which is not ideal and may disadvantage them in other ways.

      Much of the above also relates to other aspects of cultural diversity. The sexism of many presentational dress codes is blatantly obvious, the racism perhaps less so (but I’ll let others who are personally affected address that).

      In short, I hope that the high proportion of people who have enjoyed a year of wearing what they personally work best in will be able to effect a culture change that makes workplaces more inclusive of diverse communities. There is no argument about anything that is definitively safety-related, of course! But even that needs to be tailored to the local circumstances, not just assumed. Let’s seize the moment to think about what aspects of dress codes were only ever there to compound the existing privilege of certain types of body, and could happily go in the bin?

  40. twocents*

    We’re not back on site yet but my office had a fairly relaxed code anyway — flip flops for example were okay. We’ve had turnover in upper management that came from more formal companies, so they find any complaints about the dress code grating. I really, really don’t expect management to relax the dress code even further to allow sweatpants, slippers, shorts, caps, etc.

  41. introverted af*

    We are relaxing our dress code permanently. We were high-end business casual, with business professional for donor meetings, and casual Fridays with jeans but no t-shirts. Now we’re going to a “dress for your day” policy, with a minimum low-end business casual and jeans are ok if you’re not meeting with anyone, company t-shirts are ok on Fridays. So I’m very happy with that, although our WFH policy is still a toss-up as to whether we just need to be in the office more or we can “work with our supervisors for what we need.”

  42. Silicon Valley Girl*

    Silicon Valley cliche of CEOs in t-shirts, hoodies, & jeans before pandemic has been the same for WFH & will continue back in the office, undoubtedly.

  43. Secret PJs*

    My work doesn’t have a dress code, but my wardrobe has shifted from skirts and tights to elastic waist pants (denim or linen mostly) with big pockets. I will probably start wearing skirts more, but elastic waists are here to stay!

  44. Bookworm*

    I’m sure it will vary from org to org but I’ll bet we’ll see a wide range–some will say “just wear a shirt when you’re on a Zoom call” because they flipped to completely remote to “we expect a level of professionalism” and full business formal.

    Would be VERY happy to be wrong but after the talk about how things would “change” and the nature of work itself would change, etc. I’m cynical, especially after watching my org decide that it was time to bring people back into the office (admittedly this is following the relaxing of guidelines) despite the workforce visibly expressing their concern and anxiety about COVID variants, the loss of the work/life balance, general pandemic exhaustion, etc. via written feedback.

  45. Violette*

    Sadly, my company won’t be relaxing its dress code, despite multiple requests to do so.

    Our CEO has a twice-a-quarter Town Hall where questions can be submitted. Every single Town Hall since the start of the pandemic, multiple people across divisions have asked if we will be able to wear jeans when we go back. And every single time our CEO laughs it off and says, “Sure, you can wear jeans. On Friday. Just like we’ve always done.”

    I own a bunch of black jeans, though, which I wore every day prior to WFH, so I’ll continue doing that. Paired with a blouse/cardigan combo or a blouse/blazer, no one can tell I’m in denim.

  46. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I started a new job (but same industry and city) during the pandemic and have no idea what the dress code is for the office. On Zoom, everyone is wearing t-shirts, hoodies or sweaters (depending on the season). I was previously in IT (a total mixed bag of business casual to super casual) and have moved to the Legal dept. in my new job, so I assume it will be at least business casual. I’m holding off buying any new clothes for the office because I’my really not sure what I need.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Yes! It’s a bit more complicated since the rest of my team is locate in another city/country, and I don’t have a close female colleague in my office. But I’ll find someone to ask, and fortunately I do have enough office-appropriate clothes to get me started. I’m also a non-lawyer in the Legal department, but not support staff either, so who knows how that factors in. I am looking forward to wearing heels again (not every day, but on the regular).

  47. The Other Dawn*

    I’ve been WFH during the pandemic, but the few times I went in, it was business as usual as far as the dress code. And I don’t see it being any different when we go back in a couple months.

  48. Annie Moose*

    My company is another that’s already announced we’re relaxing our dress code. It’s been a thing for a long time… we’ve sort of overdressed for awhile (we work in tech with a lot of outside clients, and actually have gotten feedback that sometimes we intimidate clients because we show up in suits!), it was only a couple years before the pandemic that we were allowed to dress down on Fridays (we rarely have client meetings on Fridays). But now we’ve gotten the word we can do business casual!!

    As others have mentioned, it’s sort of a “know your day” thing. If you’re going to see a fancier client, pull out the dress pants; if you’re going to be sitting around the office, nice jeans are okay. I expect I’ll still have need of my dress pants–and most of my blouses will look fine with jeans–but (almost) all the suit jackets are going straight to the donation bin!

  49. EBStarr*

    I work in tech and haven’t gone back yet, and there’s probably no way for my industry/office’s dress code to relax. I mean my company’s dress code is something like “clothes.” But I feel like my own personal dress code is going to relax! For background, I’m an older millennial and I always stayed away from things like shorts or visible bra straps or cleavage in the office, even though all are perfectly normal things for me outside of the office.

    Now I just feel over caring about that stuff. I’m not going to have any body parts showing that it would be illegal to show, but other than that I guess I just don’t care anymore. I mean, we all have bodies–the fact that me and my colleagues all stayed out of the office for over a year to prevent those bodies from getting sick, is a glaring reminder of that–and so I don’t feel the need to dress in a way that minimizes the fact that I’m a human animal with a body. Plus, I’ve missed wearing fun clothes, and so when I’m around people I just wanna wear what I like without worrying about professionalism!

    I think it’s related to a desire I have to stop being so bound to small talk once I’m out and about in society again. I can be really reserved in conversation even with people I’ve known a long time, and after this past year, especially when the pandemic started while I was in a particularly vulnerable position (pregnant), I realized how meaningful it is when people reach out in a more honest way. So I hope to be better at truly connecting with people and being a little more honest. Not in an unprofessional/TMI way, but just… a little less of that Northeastern standoffishness in my conversational style. And my desire to wear whatever clothes I feel like to work is kind of related to that. I don’t know if other people feel the same way but I imagine some do!

    1. Hillary*

      I know of one tech company where the dress code has two components: don’t get arrested and don’t make us write a dress code.

  50. A Library Person*

    I don’t know what will actually happen, but clothing for me is really wrapped up in some other stuff so the ability to dress casually (t-shirt and jeans) in the office has meant a huge boost for my self-esteem, less consternation in the mornings, and a little extra financial saving ability, and I hope we can keep the de facto relaxed standards after we all come back. Whether I’ll feel pressure to dress up when doing public-facing work is another question, but the vast majority of our public will usually be dressed just as casually as I currently am, if not less so, so I’ve never seen the point in trying to be super formal.

  51. Ryan*

    I expect it probably depends on how much a company cared about the dress code in the first place. I once worked at a place where the only hard and fast rule was “no shorts” and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not even a rule anymore. Other non-client-facing business casual places I’ve worked I can see allowing jeans now. But my current job has a very strict and old fashioned dress code so I was honestly surprised that in the brief stretch where they were phasing people back into the office on a staggered schedule they allowed us to go by the (still pretty formal) Friday dress code every day. Of course, once everybody was back full time the old rules were back in effect and strictly enforced.

  52. old curmudgeon*

    I work in state government. There is no change to the pre-pandemic standards for work-appropriate attire once we return to working in person. For my agency, that means clean clothing, no rips or tears, no slogans or printing on t-shirts unless specifically authorized (e.g. “spirit days” for a regional sports team), no shorts, and blue jeans only on Fridays.

    I mean, it was never an egregiously awful dress code, and aside from having to dig out my polo shirts and office-appropriate slacks from the back of the closet, it’s not a horrible prospect to return to it. Sure, a t-shirt with shorts or jeans is more comfortable, but at least I no longer work for my first employer where women had to wear dresses, nylons and high heels every day, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

  53. scrubs with sloth socks*

    I work in a family practice medical office. Pre-pandemic it was business-casual. Then last March it turned to “here are scrubs, wear these so the constant hot water washing / spraying everything with disinfectants doesn’t ruin your good clothes.” If the level of new scrubs that everyone keeps buying (now that there isn’t a shortage!) is anything to go by, I’d say the scrubs are here to stay. We are all enjoying wearing the professional version of pajamas every day. Oh and novelty socks – because its the easiest way to express personality in scrubs. There are some incredible novelty socks being worn in the office these days.

  54. Sled dog mama*

    Our dress code has not changed at all during the pandemic. The only thing that happened was that management introduced jeans Friday’s where for a donation to a local organization you can wear jeans on Friday and people loved it so much that it’s become permanent. (Jeans day was actually a great morale boost during the pandemic for us as we are a healthcare organization with good pay and above average benefits, especially compared to the local area.)
    I don’t see us getting any more relaxed than current due to the need to project professionalism to patients.

  55. Bucky Barnes*

    Finance here. We could wear more casual attire for a couple of weeks last year until someone in another area complained. We’ve been back in business attire since last April.

    1. Violette*

      Grrr… I hate stuff like that.

      For most of the time while we’ve been working from home, our team didn’t turn our cameras on for meetings. There wasn’t really a point since we’re always sharing screens instead of just chatting.

      Then a couple people in my department had a meeting where the Ops VP from an entirely different division/business unit sat in on the call. She had her camera on. No one else did. Not even the people from the other divisions and departments.

      She called *our* VP and complained, and an order came down that, unless it was a 1:1 meeting within our own team, then we had to have our cameras on.

      Five-minute status update meeting within our team but with more than two people? Camera on.

      Training session where we’re just following along or taking notes? Camera on.

      Information-gathering meetings with other divisions where literally no one on their side has their camera on? Camera on.

      I’m a woman and, in my company, am not considered to be dressed “professionally” if I don’t have on a full face of makeup and my hair styled. So I end up spending 30-45 minutes making my face and hair look “professional” for an effing 2-5 minute meeting (the only meeting I’ll have all day). Management’s retort to that is, “Well, if you were in the office, you’d have makeup on.” Yeah, and I’d see people all damned day, even if I’m just headed to the bathroom.

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        That is awful, I’m sorry. There is nothing unprofessional about your natural face and hair.

        1. allathian*

          Exactly. I quit wearing makeup every day years ago, even at the office. I only wear moisturizer with sunscreen in summer and without in the winter. Even if it only takes 10 minutes for me to slap party makeup on. The hair takes longer if I try to style it, but mostly I don’t.

          Do you know when you’re going to return to the office? I love WFH but if I had to put makeup on for a short meeting, I’d almost prefer to work from the office.

      2. L in DC*

        That’s so strange to me because my organization (a three letter US Govt agency) tells us NOT to have the camera on the whole meeting, unless you are speaking!

  56. AnonEMoose*

    Pre-pandemic, our dress code was pretty much “common sense.” If you didn’t have meetings with upper-level folks or outside folks, jeans were fine. I rarely had meetings like that, so mostly wore jeans, t-shirts (long or short sleeve) with no printing (except for some company ones), or sweaters in cold weather. In hotter weather, sometimes I’d wear a skirt or a work-appropriate summer dress with flats.

    Now I work remotely and will very likely continue to do so, so I mostly wear leggings and whatever comfortable top is temperature-appropriate. I do wear a nicer top if I have a video meeting. And at least 50% of the time, there’s a cat in my lap (easier to let her have the lap when she wants it than to fight her on it). Occasionally she’ll pop into view on camera, but no one seems to mind.

    If I have to go into the office on occasion in the future (not too likely, but possible), I’ll most likely dress as I did pre-pandemic – basically according to whatever’s on the agenda for the day.

  57. Rain rain go away*

    I started in a new office in September (same company, just went from a small regional office to our main HQ). I was told my new office was more formal and I’ve observed that since coming in. We are still not required to come in, but I go in and I tend to dress up. I also wear work clothes during Zoom meetings. A lot of people don’t. Part of my dressing up, even for Zoom meetings, is that it’s good for me mentally to separate work from home life. I’ll change into my lounge-ware to help mark the end of my work day, just like I do when I get home from the office.
    The other part is that I’ve observed that a lot of our leadership dress like they do in the office, so I also thought it would be good to follow suit.

  58. lost academic*

    I don’t anticipate mine changing, but the more time I have to lose some of this stubborn pandemic and pregnancy weight, the better – I wanted to refresh my professional wardrobe post baby #2 and this time the weight is really sticking around (probably because I don’t do anything or go anywhere now). I don’t want to invest in nice stuff when I want to lose 30 lb!

  59. mediamaven*

    I’ll definitely be relaxing our dress codes on non-client facing days. But for me the most important thing is looking neat and clean and kept up. For me, I wore fitness clothes throughout the pandemic so I could et in some walking and quick workouts during the day, but I was freshly showered, hair done and makeup every single day. It’s different for different people but I think hygiene will play a big part.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Wow, that’s impressive. Do you think it’s made a difference? I pretty much assume no one can see me well enough on my webcam to tell anything more than if I have hair in my face or a huge zit.

      1. mediamaven*

        You mean wearing makeup every day? I have a lot of zoom calls so it’s important to look presentable anyway but even on days when I don’t I’m still pretty pulled together. But it goes a long way for making me feel good.

  60. Dr. Anonymous*

    A lot of docs in our purely outpatient office started wearing scrubs in respiratory clinic and then catered wearing them in regular clinic for no reason whatsoever except a feeling of comfort and security. I tried it for a week and didn’t like it. People are gradually going back to clothes though many of us, including me, are wearing out white coats in the office, which I used to do only for procedures.

  61. Iowa Teacher*

    I’m in education. Ours has not changed, including uniforms for students (public school).

    1. Rara Avis*

      We came back to in=person quite late at my school (6 weeks ago). The students were not required to wear their uniforms — with middle schoolers not having worn them in 13 months, none of them would fit anymore. They will have to go back to them in the fall.

    2. 'nother prof*

      I doubt things will change for higher education either. I dress up in part because it helps students see me as an authority figure. If I dressed casually, I’d have to deal with even more arguments about whether they really have to do assignments/jabs that I don’t really know the material I’m *paid to teach*/refusals to accept that no means no (exception to course policy to make up for their failure to do the work)/etc.

    3. LitNerd*

      I’m also a teacher, and am wondering what other schools have been experiencing.

      I teach at a private school that doesn’t have uniforms but has made a push toward a slightly more restrictive dress code in the past few years—no sweatpants or leggings unless they’re solid color with no logos, no ripped jeans, no hoods up on sweatshirts, etc. We relaxed dress code for students because, with the windows open for ventilation, classrooms were very cold and students needed more layers to warm up. But the dress code was NOT relaxed for teachers; we have a vaguely business casual teacher dress code that prohibits jeans, sweatshirts, etc. It was a long, cold winter wrapped in long underwear under dress pants and sweaters!

      I think the admin will want to move back to a more restrictive dress code for students, and that students will push back and try to keep it more casual. But I still see teachers and staff needing to go business casual.

      1. KittyCardigans*

        I also work at a private school that doesn’t have uniforms. Our dress code for students is fairly permissive to start with and was haphazardly enforced this year. They have enjoyed seeing what they can get away with (I’ve seen a LOT of crop tops this year, and some have been more like bralettes than crop tops). I would not be surprised to see a minor power struggle over this in the fall.

        Dress code for faculty and staff was relaxed slightly to let male teachers wear shorts when teaching outside, but I think it’s otherwise pretty similar to the one at your school. This year we were given permission to wear jeans on ~5 days, which was a nice perk. I expect we’ll be back to normal next year. I’ll miss the surprise jeans days!

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Our school uniform rules were adjusted to let kids wear coats in class and any color solid sweatpants under the skirts for kids who pick the skirt option, to acknowledge that it’s cold when all the doors and windows are open all the time. (We’re in California so that means it was chilly in January, not snow drifts blowing in.)

  62. Joan Rivers*

    We’ve had pandemics and epidemics before, and then vaccines, and life went back to what it was pretty much.
    This may be different but I see the public keeps acting like they think life totally will have changed from Covid and I don’t see why.
    We may have learned some things but people still have a closet full of suits, etc.
    Now, business travel may have changed. Right now it sounds odd to want to be on a plane.
    Working remotely may have proved itself.
    But dress probably will vary from place to place. Masks may vary; I’d wear one on a subway, etc., the way that Asians have for a long time.

    1. Koalafied*

      I think similar to what happened with ecommerce, the pandemic accelerated a trend that was already happening before the pandemic. I should say I’m speaking only about the US, but there has been a steady relaxing of dress codes for the past few decades. Women are no longer expected to wear pantyhose, for instance, and there are fewer and fewer jobs that expect a man to wear a tie.

      I do think there will be a bit of a snap-back to more formal dress as people return to their offices, but I think most offices will land somewhere more formal than employees have been at home but less formal than they were 2 years ago – just like ecommerce and delivery apps will likely see their sales level out somewhere less than they were at the height of the pandemic, but higher than they were pre-pandemic.

      1. Kes*

        I agree with this, I think there will be some snapback but there will also be some acceleration of the trend towards more relaxed dress codes. I think it will also depend by industry/office – those historically more formal like finance or law, or those client facing, will likely retain that a bit more, whereas those that are just doing whatever is standard will see more of a shift. I think it will also break down in terms of businesses that are full time back in the office staying more as they were while full time remote will obviously be more casual and many offices will likely end with a more hybrid state in which case the casualness of wfh will likely have an effect on dress codes when employees are in the office as well.

    2. alienor*

      I agree with that. Ever since all this started, whenever I’d read a thinkpiece about how X or Y was never going to be the same, I’d think “yeah, but it will though, because people will rush back to what’s familiar as soon as they possibly can.” And everything we’ve seen so far seems to bear that out. Unless something drastic happens, like an all-new, more deadly variant that no existing vaccine can address, I’m expecting life to look pretty much like 2019 by the time 2022 rolls around, 2023 at the latest. (I’m in the U.S., so this is a U.S. perspective; I know things are very different in other countries.) I don’t think that’s a universally good thing–those thinkpieces weren’t wrong about this being a time when we could make fundamental improvements to the way society works–but it’s going to happen.

      1. Sparrow*

        I think people will be eager to rush back to normal in many ways, but not for things that got easier/more pleasant/etc during the pandemic. I think professional dress codes might be one of those things some folks won’t be so excited to return to. That said, if people are told they have to resume prior dress norms, I think everyone will adjust pretty quickly and get over it.

      2. TrainerGirl*

        One of the things I’ve noticed is it seems that many companies are allowing certain things post-pandemic (hybrid schedules, remote work, relaxed dress code) as retention strategies. There are going to be some people who jump ship to other companies who are offering those things, and companies want to keep up. My own company stated outright that they will be offering the hybrid schedule to “keep up” with other companies and to retain their employees.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, although it’s possible that the hybrid thing will be the sort of compromise that nobody really likes. Some people vastly prefer the office for a variety of reasons, including not having the space for a dedicated home office. Others can’t see the point of going to the office even occasionally, if it means battling with a hotdesk reservation system or vastly different dress code expectations WFH and at the office. As for myself, I’m hoping to WFH at least 50 percent, if only to take advantage of the 900 euro tax deduction for WFH employees. It does compensate for some of the increased utility and food costs that WFH entails.

  63. lilsheba*

    I’m staying remote so no dress code here. But I feel dress codes don’t matter much anymore, we have proven that work is just effective no matter how one is dressed.

  64. Van Wilder*

    Tax accountant here. We already went to jeans everyday years before the pandemic. Before the pandemic, if I had a video call, I made sure I was wearing a blouse or at least a cardigan over my tank top. Pandemic world, I don’t even think twice about turning on the video while wearing a hoodie, even with some clients (though not all.)

    I haven’t heard anything about the dress code changing upon return-to-office but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the occasional leggings without it being a big deal. In my team, we almost never see clients in the office.

  65. Anxious Auditor*

    I know my company has kept the same dress code the entire time. It was a pretty casual office already, jeans and whatever shoes and dressier shirts were the norm. But I’ve had managers and supervisors show up in sports jerseys and shorts and no one bats an eye so long as they don’t have a client meeting. For our busy season we officially relax to lounge/athleisure wear, which is a blessing when you’re working 60+ hour weeks.

    I find it odd that so many people have noted accounting as a field where dress codes are more formal? Maybe it’s just my firm, since is is younger company with a younger workforce, but having partners or other employees in full suits is unusual at my company.

  66. Rara Avis*

    Although we did not have official permission to relax the dress code when my school went back to in-person learning, I’m seeing a lot more sneakers than dress shoes — and my boss hasn’t said anything.

    1. Flower necklace*

      I changed to sneakers before the pandemic after my coworker told me she wore sneakers every day and no one ever said anything to her. Being on your feet every day is hard, especially since no one in my department has their own classroom.

      I have noticed that people are wearing jeans more often. Before the pandemic, the rule was only on Fridays with school spiritwear. Now it’s common to see jeans during the week. I think this has admin approval, though. I vaguely remember the principal mentioning it during a faculty meeting.

  67. MissCoco*

    I’m a student in a clinic setting, and our college only allowed scrubs in clinic as a COVID concession (being easier to launder than dress clothes).
    Anyone else in a health care field where scrubs are newly allowed or more prevalent? Do you think the clock will turn back on that?

    This is a para-medical field where practitioners usually wear business casual with or without a white coat.
    It’s looking like the one Dean who was adamantly against scrubs in the first place is not realistically going to be able reverse this decision, which has been popular with both students and attendings. It will be interesting to see how norms of professional dress change across the field as more graduates come from programs allowing scrubs.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At my hospital system, you can only wear scrubs if you’re in a clinical setting, at which point we provide the scrubs. If you’re not doing some level of clinical work (which I believe does include the front desk folks who do cleaning and restocking of patient care rooms, though I could be mistaken about that), you are not allowed to wear scrubs even if you want to. But they are required for non-MD clinical providers (nurses, MAs, techs and so on), and I think the MDs get to decide whether they want to wear scrubs or business casual with a lab coat, depending on what they’re actually doing on any given shift.

  68. Piffle*

    There was always a distinction between customer facing (uniform) and non-customer facing (business casual – polos, not jeans etc) but that has been relaxed a bit more now:

    Branded uniforms will be provided to all employees who are in customer facing roles or when their role meets one of the following criteria:
    * Any role that spends >/=50% of time interacting with customers,
    * any role that requires employees to be easily identified within their work environment as employees of the organisation,
    * any role that requires hard-wearing, technical uniforms to complete work safely,  or
    * any role where employees spend >/=50% of time representing the organisation’s brand in external environments where branded attire is expected.

    All employees who are not required to wear a uniform have a choice about what they wear to work. This means that employees can choose if they dress casually or in more traditional business attire and use their judgement when deciding what to wear to work, guided by the following principles:
    * you are representing the organisation and its brand, image and values;
    * dress appropriately for what you are doing that day;
    * consider who you are interacting with in and out of the organisation and making them feel comfortable;
    * wherever you are working (home, office, on the road) work, health and safety applies, and clothing must be practical, safe and fit for your role;
    * clothing worn in the workplace must be clean and neat; and
    * footwear must be appropriate to a business environment and of a style that ensures the employee’s role can be performed safely.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’re functionally in the same boat, only we’re a hospital, so our people who have “uniforms” are patient-facing in clinical areas and wear either scrubs or lab coats for the most part. Those of us who aren’t patient facing can wear jeans with manager approval, and otherwise, yeah, this is really similar to our pre-COVID guidelines which never changed.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Because it has changed for many workplaces during a year+ of WFH, and expectations are simply different now of what clothes you expect to see in a meeting.

      Also, for similar reasons as why employers will keep increased flexibility around WFH — because they want to retain employees, and they’ll have trouble doing that if all their competitors have more appealing workplace policies.

      1. TulipBird*

        To me, a business casual dress code is a non thing, especially one that’s a bit more on the casual side.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Any disruptions in life are places where it’s easier for change to come in. For people who have been out of the office for a year, the things that seemed obvious or inevitable a year ago now might seem distant; it’s unsurprising that a lot of disrupted businesses may be rethinking norms or how they do business. Given that American culture in general (can’t comment on other countries) has trended toward more relaxed, comfort-first fashion anyway, it follows that companies who are rethinking their dress code might shift to something more casual.

      In addition to that, a lot of businesses already relaxed dress codes for people working in-office, as a bonus/courtesy because they’re taking on more risk and potentially more work than people who WFH. Now, a year later, those businesses may realize that this casual dress code is fine, and extend it to everyone who comes back into the office.

      In short, there’s a lot of reasons why companies might use this time to switch up their dress codes!

    3. introverted af*

      Because literally the whole world changed over the past year, and acting like things will go back to being exactly the same is a bit naive in my opinion.

      1. TulipBird*

        I just don’t think dress codes are that big of a deal. Business attire, yes, but not business casual.

        1. Mannequin*

          Dress codes are inherently sexist, racist, and classist, so relaxing/eliminating them is actually a HUGE deal.

  69. JJ*

    In many places, the style of dress is part of how the org sells its credibility, like how in law or financial offices, you want someone more authoritative-looking (suits) to convey “I can protect you/your assets”, and you’d want someone you’re hiring to do creative work like advertising or motion graphics to be dressed more like an artist, to convey “I can come up with something interesting for you”.

    For industries where costuming isn’t as important, I’d bet dress codes will be relaxed.

  70. ecnaseener*

    During WFH I’ve taken full advantage of the ability to wear a t-shirt and then put a nice sweater or shawl on top for meetings. I wonder if that will still fly or if it’ll be too obvious without the buffer of a poor-quality webcam.

  71. Watry*

    Ours has actually gotten stricter: we wear uniform shirts but we used to be able to wear our own slacks and shoes if we wanted, as long as they were sufficiently professional (black or khaki pants, tennis shoes). Changes in leadership mean we now have to wear the organization-issued pants and shoes as well, even though they don’t fit anyone. I had to argue for a grace period to get my pants altered (with my own money), since the last time I wore them I tripped over the excess cloth in the leg.

  72. AnonPi*

    Our dress code was already casual – jeans and t-shirts ok, though upper management typically wears at least business casual. If you’re expected to meet with any VIPs then it’s at least business casual for those of us that usually wear jeans. And usually even those not meeting with VIPs, if we’re aware they will be in out building we’ll make an effort to dress at least nice casual (button down shirt with nice jeans). I sometimes wish they were a *bit* more strict, as some people dress like they’re going clubbing or clothes with holes/stains.

  73. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I’m currently one of the very few going into the office on a regular basis. Usually we are business attire. Is neither formal nor casual a thing? Somewhere in between — some wear formal suits, some don’t; we have org-branded polos and button downs to wear with nice slacks but we’re not forced to wear them; I wear what some would call sandals but NOT flip-flops; some of our execs wear Doc Martins with a sport coat. I’ll call it California business :-) Pre-covid nice jeans were only allowed on Friday but I’m wearing them everyday right now but the rest of my wardrobe hasn’t changed. No one has said a word about dress code but I’m assuming that once people start returning to campus more regularly, we’ll go back to the pre-covid rules.

  74. Snackie Onassis*

    I work in a dean’s office at a university, and previously our dress code was somewhere on the business-casual to business-formal spectrum. The dean wore a suit and tie, and I generally wore dress pants with a blouse or sweater, sheath dresses, and the occasional suit. It would be okay wear jeans on Fridays, but not any other day. Since September our office has been open/staffed minimally, but no one comes by. I’m here most days solo or with one or two other colleagues (including the dean) and the dress code has gotten much more casual. Currently wearing dark jeans, a white sleeveless blouse, and nice flat sandals. Basically I’ve traded out my dress pants for nice jeans and haven’t worn heels in over a year. I have some power of these things as the director of administration, and I hope our dress code stays this way. I like my formal clothes, and I’m sure I’ll have meetings that will require dressing up, but I’m aiming for a “dress for your day” policy that will have a nice-casual baseline.

  75. OwlEditor*

    Since the president wears jeans and a blazer, we have a business casual dress code. I’m sure we’ll be back to that when we return to the office. It varies. I’ve seen people wearing dress pants, a dress shirt, and a vest next to someone wearing sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt. We do get company t-shirts, so a lot of people wear those. I tend to save the jeans for Fridays. Honestly, dress pants are more comfortable anyway.
    I, personally, like dressing up for work. I think it helps me act more professional at work. Working from home I wear my pjs most of the morning and it just doesn’t feel right.
    Plus, I’m looking forward to wearing my nice clothes again. I do wear nice things wfh, but they tend to get covered in cat hair, so it’s the t-shirts I usually change into when I get home.

  76. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    All I can say is that yesterday when I happened to be in the office (still primarily WFH) I ran into my normally super formal, black suits only, never seen him in less than office professional, VP….wearing jeans. I noticed he’d put on a suit jacket for the zoom staff meeting later in the day, but if that’s any indication we’re going to be a bit more relaxed moving forward.

  77. Shan*

    Pre-pandemic, my office had officially been business casual M-Th, jeans on Fridays, but it hadn’t really been enforced. When the pandemic hit, those of us who came in to the office throughout wore jeans when whenever we came in, and now that we’re gradually getting back to normal, there’s been an unspoken shift towards that just being the norm.

    My industry – in my city, at least – had gotten pretty chill re: dress codes over the past decade or so anyway, outside of a few individual companies.

  78. SushiRoll*

    We REALLY need to. They’ve allowed us jeans Fridays since some of us starting rotating back into the office last summer. We were only allowed jeans on random (few times a year) charity days. Otherwise, our office was strict business casual, and the location I worked in before (HQ) was business professional. They dropped the ties requirement pre-COVID but suits/jackets for all genders were still required or at least heavily favored. In my current building it’s all dress pants/slacks, collared shirts or sweaters, dresses, etc. Only a small number of people see outside clients with any regularity. Funnily, in the field locations where they do see tons of clients, they are often more casual.

    I think they at the very least need to make jeans Fridays permanent. It would be such a small thing but boost morale hugely.

  79. Felicity Flowers*

    Pre-pandemic we were corporate casual with casual Fridays. This was relaxed to a casual dress code during the pandemic. We will be transitioning people back into the office soon and our Leadership Team made the decision to go back to the corporate casual dress code…. the logic being is that its a small thing that may help people get back into the routine and mindset of coming into an office.

    On a personal note I think even corporate casual is overly formal for our industry but I understand the logic; for me its like days I put on makeup vs the days I don’t it puts me in a different frame of mind in the morning that carries into my day.

  80. a thought*

    My office was pretty casual before this – I would say the casual side of business casual, with a dress-for-your-own-day type of vibe (look nicer for an external meeting). A few people occasionally wore jeans and there was a loose “casual Friday” idea. I think that the overall norms will just shift slightly down… a few more people will wear jeans, things that people would wear on Fridays will morph to other days of the week… but sweatpants/athletic wear will not be acceptable.

    Personally I think I will take a few more liberties – wear jeans a bit more. But that would have been okay before (within the bounds of my work) – so it’s a shift within the existing norms.

  81. Manders*

    I live in the PNW, where dress codes already tend to be relaxed, and I think the rest of the country is likely to end up with the same idea of business casual we have here. The one thing I wish would get even more casual: shorts in the office! I’m AFAB but I don’t like wearing skirts, and it’s always bugged me that skirts are considered professional but the exact same length of fabric is unprofessional if it has leg holes.

    Oddly enough, I think people might dress a bit more formally outside the office here, at least for the first six months or so. Seeing friends feels special now and I definitely feel excited about putting on nice clothes to go to social events.

  82. CW*

    For my company, the dress code was always relaxed, even pre-COVID. Think Causal Fridays but every day. We are allowed to wear jeans and sneakers. And usually we wear polo shirts or a slightly formal top. Regular shirts without many logos are also allowed – think one colored shirt. However, totally informal t-shirts or short pants are crossing the line. The office never really mentioned no t-shirts or pants, but it is an unwritten rule.

  83. Name (Required)*

    It better get more relaxed in certain industries.

    I come from creative industries, but one of the clingy remnants of the old guard was “dress nicely” the higher up you climbed (junior designers in t-shirts no one cared, but when the art director did, there were *opinions*).

    At this point, colored hair, tatoos and t-shirts better be the regular option everywhere (and not just for the *hip* firms). I will officially start questioning the work environment of creative firms where people dress up too much – because after a few instances of toxic work environments it is now a red flag to me.

    But I know I’ll be pushing for that faster than some firms want.

  84. Maybe I Have Flat Feet*

    Footwear warning! After not wearing heels for over a year, I recently had to wear very moderate heels for several hours (unfortunately for a funeral, not for work). The next morning my feet were actually swollen. Moral of the story – work your way back to wearing heels gradually, and take a spare pair of flats just in case!

  85. Box of Kittens*

    My whole company has been mostly on-site throughout the pandemic, and we had a business casual dress code before with jeans for special occasions and drives (wear jeans this Friday if you bring some canned food for the food bank, etc). They allowed jeans all the time when the pandemic began, but are now talking about backing that out again. On the one hand, I like wearing jeans, but having jeans as an incentive is also nice for marketing purposes. Mostly I’m indifferent on jeans or no jeans though, and will dress a little up for work regardless because I’m more productive that way.

    (Side note though: one thing that rubbed me the wrong way about this discussion was hearing our management use going back to the no-jeans dress code basically to avoid having to tell people not to wear hoodies, which we apparently had a few incidences of over the winter. Would it really have been so hard to pull those people aside and say “hey, we’re in a relaxed dress code right now, but please don’t wear a hoodie again.” There’s a minor but annoying pattern of small-conflict avoidance here. Bleh.)

  86. Exhausted Trope*

    I’ve been on site a couple days and wfh all along. We’ve had Friday casual dress (jeans) since 2020. I envision us going back to biz casual once we’re back in the office FT. I don’t care either way, tbh.

  87. noahwynn*

    I work for an airline, but our office employee dress code has always been fairly casual. They call it “west coast casual.” Basically clean, matching clothes that cover all the body parts. You are also expected to dress for the work you are doing that day, so there is a big mix of what people are wearing on any given day. No changes expected for us. Customer-facing employees wear a uniform or have a more strict business casual, no jeans dress code.

  88. pretzelgirl*

    We already have the strangest dress code imaginable so it wont change. Basically there is not dress code. Don’t wear things with profanity and that’s basically it. I usually wear jeans, a nice top and sandals in the summer months. Fridays I can get away with leggings, a long tunic sweatshirt type thing and sneakers.

  89. Merci Dee*

    My employer provides “teamwear” to all employees, which is an annual order of 3 or so polos available in a variety of colors with the company logo. We have the ability to order additional polos, sweaters, vests, jackets, hats, or other gear during the year using our own money instead of company funds. We can’t wear denim (normal blue jeans or other colored jeans), but denim is the only pants material that’s specifically not allowed. Safety-toed shoes are required for those working on the production floor, though the office personnel is allowed to wear any footwear that’s not open-toed or open-heeled (no flip flops, sandals, slides, etc.).

    Even before the pandemic, my work outfit was a company polo; a pair of elastic-waisted knit pants, either full-length or mid-calf capri length during warm weather; and tennis shoes or step-in sneakers. So my work clothes were already pretty comfy and accommodating.

    There are no plans to change the employee dress code.

  90. TotesMaGoats*

    In academia and faculty tended to wear what they want. Anything from jeans and blouse/polo to full suit. I”m in administration and I was business to business casual depending on the day. I want to be able to wear jeans and a nice blouse every day unless I WANT to dress up or if it’s needed for an external meeting. I’m on camera almost all day. So I tend to do a nice blouse that I would have worn to work anyway and shorts/jeans/yoga pants depending on the weather. Fridays are casual, branded tshirt or polo especially if nothing external. I want the choice to be mine not dictated by what we think professionals look like.

  91. Blisskrieg*

    I will say the days I get showered, dressed and make up on, I tend to feel better about the day and that in turn helps my productivity. Now, I am a workaholic, so many times I am still in my sweats come evening. I honestly like a system that makes me stop and take stock and do those things. I have always worked from home so this is a chronic struggle. It’s a pain to pack for trips to corporate but honestly I enjoy the chance to wear something nice.

  92. CRM*

    This is an interesting question! Things have changed a lot in my office. At the beginning of the pandemic, many people would show up on Zoom calls with their hair and makeup done, jewelry, and nice blouses. Now, hoodies and no makeup is the norm. And many of the people in my office who used to color their hair haven’t been maintaining it, so it’s interesting to see what everyone’s natural colors are. Nobody has clearly stated whether our dress code will get more relaxed, although we were always more on the casual side of business casual even before the pandemic (dark wash jeans and nice sandals were common), so I’m thinking probably not. But I’m actually kind of excited to have an excuse to dress up a little bit again! The only exception is when that time of the month happens… I always feel really lucky to throw on a pair of sweatpants during that time, and will miss it greatly!

    1. CRM*

      Also to add, while I don’t expect the dress code to change, I hope that the norms around makeup and hair are relaxed now that we’ve seen everyone’s natural state! Makeup was never really an explicitly stated expectation in the office, but all of the women did it so it felt odd not to. I would love to see that change!

  93. Lullabud*

    My quasi-governmental office (we’re an ~instrumentality~) has historically been on the schlubby end of business casual, punctuated by Jeans Fridays and the occasional “wear your favorite sports regalia” day. During the pandemic, though, we’ve temporarily suspended visits from outside vendors and the public. Once we started filtering back into the office last summer, we had Jeans Month, which eventually became Jeans Year and then Jeans-first-half-of 2021. Apparently senior management is reviewing our dress code, and I think there’s a good chance we’ll end up going more casual except when meeting with members of the public, lawmakers, etc. For some of us that could be semi-frequently, for others not much at all.

  94. Kyrielle*

    I hope ours won’t relax much. We were at casual – cargo shorts passed, t-shirts with text or images (that weren’t obscene or violating someone else’s rights or whatever) passed, flip flops … well, he didn’t get written up but after lots of jokes he also never wore them again.

    If ours relax much, we’ll have PJs and slippers, and I think that might be a bridge too far.

  95. Quinalla*

    We were already pretty casual except for client meetings (jeans without rips/holes/etc. fine, expected a collared business casual shirt or equivalent for women, though t-shirts with company logo or on fridays were fine), but yeah on zoom calls people are dressed, but it is everyday clothes, sometimes workout wear, haven’t seen anyone in actually PJs yet lol. From what I’ve seen, people are going back to our previous casual dress code when they are in the office, but staying completely casual when working from home. I plan to just stay completely casual myself, but I have more latitude because I am a senior person and my regional office has 4 people, so no one really cares what we do anyway.

    1. Quinalla*

      Also going to try and not wear a bra sometimes too going forward when I never would have dreamed of it previously. At least when it is cold and I have on a bulky sweater, etc. I have loved not having to wear one except for the occasional site survey I’ve done.

  96. Magnus Archivist*

    Academic library here, where before the pandemic we were business casual, but jeans + a button up for some senior male staff wasn’t unheard of (depends on the role and if they’re client-facing). When I come into work now I either
    a) dress like before, if I’m getting a ride from my partner. I have felt comfortable but shlubby in pajamas for a year so I’m actually enjoying getting to put on work clothes and shoes again.
    b) I’m not taking public transit until cases in my area are WAY down, so if I’m not getting a ride from my partner, I’m walking 1 hr each way to the library. On those days, I dress for the walk and the weather, not the job. This often means jeans and sneakers, but occasionally a skirt if it’s hot. And no one at the library seems to care either way.

    So there’s been no official decree, but I am definitely emboldened to dress more casually if I’m going to be walking to work. (I could bring clothes + shoes to change into, but honestly I just don’t want to carry more stuff.)

    1. Chilipper Attitude*

      Public library here. We have been at work since May 2020 and the only change to our dress code is that masks are required. We are pretty casual but no jeans or lettering on shirts and closed toe shoes are required.

      That means that even though the mask mandate is lifted in our area, they still require us to wear masks but the public are not required to wear them.

  97. Rayray*

    I’m so glad I don’t have a dress code. We have some guidelines, but basically dress casual and modest and you’re fine. Currently in jeans and sandals at the office.

  98. Casual all the way*

    I’d like to think that tech world dress codes will never change. Because sometimes they are awesome. The CFO at my last pre-covid employer said that our policy was “Clothing is mandatory. As in don’t show up naked.” I wore a lot of hoodies, jeans, an animal onesie once, and running shorts.

    With my current employer, I’ve straight up not worn pants for some Zoom meetings while on video. And frequently showed up with a “Nog going to work” t-shirt with a picture of a smore in an egg nog hot tub. Got promoted after a year of dressing up like a crazy person. It was glorious. They really don’t care.

    The best part is that my mom keeps trying to tell me to wear a suit and dress like a leader in the company so I can look the part for advancement, I guess. I’m a girl, I’m in my mid-30s, and IDGAF. She doesn’t get that some of these non-monetary perks are what keeps some of us happy at work.

    1. Mannequin*

      “Clothing is mandatory. As in don’t show up naked.”

      I approve of this dress code

  99. Amey*

    My husband’s employer (a law firm) has just announced that the casual dress code that applies on ‘dress down Friday’ will now apply full time unless you have a client meeting. I’m not sure if this is across the whole firm or just his department but it’s a big shift for them. They’re also likely to go to a fully hybrid working model in his department. Most of his department’s clients are based in different parts of the country and client meetings in the office are rare in normal times, so remote working and casual dress really make sense but neither would have been considered pre-pandemic.

  100. YarnOwl*

    My office sort of relaxed our dress code when most people were working from home full time (mostly because we weren’t having in-office meetings with clients), but now that more people are starting to come back and we are starting to have clients in our office it’s basically back to what it was before (which means account people are in full business casual and people like me who work in support departments can be a little more lax – wear a little funkier clothes or “forget” to change out of our sneakers into nicer shoes, stuff like that). I work in a pretty conservative industry and some people in my office have to meet with clients regularly, so I am not surprised at all that our dress code is staying formal.

  101. Beth*

    We are in south Florida, where the dress codes trend casual (most of our clients dress VERY casually for meetings), but pre-pandemic, the office had had fairly high dress code standards: all men wore ties and suits (although they often worked in shirtsleeves), most women wore the upper end of business casual.

    I stayed onsite, with a half-crew. With no clients ever coming to the office, the dress code went right out the window. It was nice! I went for a whole year without ever wearing nylons!

    Client meetings are slowly ramping up. The people who had been working from home came back ready to put on their ties and such, but the overall dress code is still tending to stay a notch below where it was. I think the senior echelon had been wanting to shift to a slightly more relaxed standard, and the pandemic made that a natural event.

  102. TWW*

    In my office, jeans have recently become acceptable, and I that policy will reverse.

    I don’t think it’s a relaxation of the dress code, so much as a recognition that a newish pair of jeans is not objectively more casual than any other style of trousers.

    In my closest I have jeans that are made of heavy cloth, fit me well, and cost about $80. By contrast, my typical chinos are made of a flimsy cotton blend, fit a little loose and baggy, and cost $30. Which would you guess is considered more formal?

  103. Chocoholic*

    My office dress code was already pretty casual – the only “forbidden” items are shorts and workout clothes. I can’t see that changing, and at least I’ve adhered to that during my time I’ve worked in the office. I have kind of missed some of my dressier clothes and am looking forward to wearing them sometimes.

    One of our admins has started going to the gym right after work and she changes into her workout clothes an hour or so before she leaves. I think that is fine and don’t really care one way or the other if she does that.

    My husband is still WFH for the time being, who knows when he will be back to his office. Maybe in the fall. His office is also fairly casual. He wears jeans all the time, but will probably start wearing a shirt with a collar vs a t-shirt when he goes back.

  104. StressedButOkay*

    We went to the more casual side of business casual years ago (jeans every day, unless there are external visitors; nice shirts, etc.). I actually feel like people might dress UP a bit more in my office once we start to go back in on our staggered WFH-hybrid models just because we’re excited to do so but it’ll settle back down to what we used to wear. I can’t see us going more casual than where we were.

  105. Annie*

    My dress code was pretty casual to start with (jeans and a nice top, etc.), but I doubt I’ll be allowed to wear leggings when I go back to the office, alas.

  106. Cat-Wrangler*

    Our dress code was pretty relaxed, to begin with – as compared to others: just make sure to be neat; if wearing jeans make sure there are no holes; if you’re part of the Admin team, business casual is fine; don’t wear open-toes shoes (we’re human services and sometimes have to handle needles, etc); and don’t wear t-shirts with logos on them.

    But since COVID, our dress code relaxed even more. We’re not sloppy or anything but our CEO who’s usually dressed up, has relaxed her clothing.

    I’d love to be able to wear jeans all the time and not just on Fridays.

  107. turquoisecow*

    My office has never been super formal, more business casual than anything. I’ve been 100% remote for the last year but the people in the office have been told they can wear jeans. I’m not sure if sneakers are allowed, but jeans and (plain) t-shirts or polos were the norm most Fridays pre-pandemic so I’m assuming that’s the general dress all days.

    As for the future, the office plans to reopen to all, no working from home for most people (I’m an exception) on June 28th, and at least for the summer they’re going to stick with the casual dress code. For at least the short term, vendors and visitors won’t be allowed in to the office, so there won’t be much occasion to call for more formal wear – I know that prior, people who met with outside vendors or whatever were expected to be a little more formal. I assume that in the fall or when things really return to total normal and they allow vendors in and large in person meetings, the usual dress code will be reinstated.

  108. Happier In Jean*

    We’re going from jeans and t-shirts in the office back to business casual as more people come back. Jeans on Fridays. So back to normal like it was which is not what a lot of people wanted.

  109. BB*

    I’m not happy about the prospect of putting on “hard pants” every day. It’s clear now that we are just as productive in sweatpants as we are in suits (not like that’s a big surprise) so I don’t know why we have to revert back to the old rules of dressing for work. If anything, I’m probably MORE productive when I’m comfortable…which for me means soft pants, a t-shirt, no bra, and no shoes. But that’s probably not going to fly and even if my office did decide to allow it, I doubt I’d be comfortable being around my colleagues in-person like that anyway. Somehow it’s different when we’re on Zoom.

  110. Elle by the sea*

    I think it’s very hard to see on Zoom whether you are dressed formally or casually, unless your wear a suit or a hoodie with a huge logo on it. I usually wear all black – it’s a black top or sweater and black biking pants (loose ones) or tracksuit bottoms. In the office, I would wear dresses, skirts, slacks or jeans. But no one can see the difference – I’m visible until the top of my shoulders. The other difference is that I’m not wearing my conspicuous jewellery pieces on calls – the headphones would be uncomfortable to wear over my earrings. But I’ve only ever worked in casual offices (causal as in anything goes: from suits to tracksuits), so working from home won’t make a big difference in the non-existent dress code.

  111. JustJanet*

    Personally, I would rather quit my job and jump off a bridge than wear pantyhose this summer. I’m going to continue to wear nice sundresses that don’t require dry-cleaning and never shave my legs again. It sucks that people can’t just mind their own business and stop policing other people’s bodies!

  112. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    I’m an attorney in a rural area. We keep getting strongly-worded directives from judicial higher-ups reminding us that we still need to wear suits on camera as if we were in court (and also not eat or drink on camera, light up a smoke on camera, stream from bed… yeah).

    My office dress code was already relaxed if you didn’t have court that day. Now that we can do so much of stuff over the phone (without the judge seeing our faces), we’ll probably keep that dress code unless something requires us to be on camera or in person in court.

  113. EH*

    My workplace doesn’t have much of a dress code – one of our Directors wears cargo shorts, tshirts, and flip-flops almost year round. I set myself an unofficial dress code for work (jeans, dress shirts) just to make it separate from elsewhere, but now that I work from home it’s tshirts and jeans 24/7. I’m not going back to the office any time soon, if at all, but if/when I go back, I’ll probably return to dress shirts with my jeans. It feels silly to dress up when I’m only visible to coworkers an hour or two a day.

  114. Campfire Raccoon*

    Our dress code (company-issued uniforms) will be getting nicer.

    Without being able to replace my clothes for a year, I ran through the last of my business casual and nicer house clothes. I started wearing our techs’ bright orange crew shirts when I had to go somewhere as a representative of the company. You guys, people started treating me like absolute garbage. I’m used to the sexism and the invisibleness that goes with being a plain, overweight, middle-aged woman. But this was whole new level.

    I asked the techs who said they sometimes get similar responses. Like construction/service workers somehow aren’t people? They make more than me! Anyway, I am having a variety of nice high-quality polo shirts and button ups made in addition to some not-orange t-shirts. In the summer they’ll probably want the lighter t-shirts when it’s hot-hot.

    1. irene adler*

      I’m sorry you experienced this treatment. Not okay.

      But it does give me food for thought. Maybe I should dress up more to get folks to respect this middle-age, overweight, plain woman.

    2. Also plain, overweight, and middle-aged*

      Fellow plain, overweight, and middle-aged woman here, and I hear you. Regardless of how norms of dress might change at my workplace after the pandemic, I’ll probably still feel that I have to dress a notch more smartly than others in order to be credited with the same level of professionalism and competence.

  115. Zephy*

    I work for a university (admin side, not faculty). My office was fully WFH for about ten (glorious) weeks last spring, then brought us back to the office on a split schedule (2 days WFH/3 days onsite) for the summer, which continued up to now (back in the office 100% as of 6/1, booo). For the summer of 2020 TPTB ~gRaCiOuSLy aLLoWeD~ on-site staff to wear jeans and (company) T-shirts all week instead of just for Casual Fridays, but put the kibosh on that when the fall semester started and the students came back. Spirit Day Fridays are still a thing, but that was also true before COVID. So no, we really didn’t see much of a relaxation in dress code and are not likely to see one post-COVID either. Our baseline is pretty solidly business-casual though, it’s rare to see someone in Maximum Professional mode.

  116. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I still work from home and rarely have to video meet so its pretty much anything goes. The few times a month I do have to journey into the office for a few hours I will throw on a skirt or dress but no one raises an eye brow if I have a tshirt with a graphics or a flannel shirt since I’m not customer facing and just “dropping in”. From what I’ve heard if you are in building regularly its back to the old dress code.

  117. Now In the Job*

    Interestingly, Brooks Brothers is currently going through a national shortage of their white non-iron button down shirts. I bought the last two in the entire *company* in my size last week, after hunting for a while and not being able to find any at all. So I’m guessing an not-small portion of the population is preparing for full formal work wardrobe again.

    I swapped my pants out during covid for 100% stretchy/yoga-like work pants, and I’m very grateful for it. I’m a lot more comfortable, but still look perfectly professional. I definitely have spotted the head of the department wearing casual tennis shoes in the office a few times, but that’s probably about as dressed-down as we’re going to be getting here.

  118. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    I’m a teacher and my school went back to in-person four days a week in October. The official dress code didn’t change (and people are still dressing within it) and it was never very formal to begin with. But the safety measures we’ve taken have nudged some people, me included, to shift our wardrobes somewhat. I’ve been doing an hour of recess and lunch duty every day and so have been wearing sneakers more frequently because of all the standing and playing tag with kids. And with all the doors and windows open all the time for airflow, clasrooms have obviously been cooler than normal, even in the mild climate of the Bay Area – so LOTS of us are teaching with outerwear on. The school actually gave us all puffy vests with the school logo on them, and some days it seems like 75% of the staff are wearing them! Best holiday gift in years.

  119. Former Retail Lifer*

    I work in property management so I’ve been going to work the whole time. When we were completely locked down and no one was allowed in the office, jeans and sneakers were fine. I’ve been back to a formal dress code since we re-opened to the public a year ago. I had two months of glorious casual days, and it’s been business attire ever since. I work with the public and the price point in my community is high, so it makes sense. For anyone that doesn’t deal with the public, I really hope you can keep it casual.

  120. Lacey*

    We were pretty casual before covid. Nice t-shirt, jeans, some people even wore flip flops. Nice ones. But still flip flops.

    We were given the option to come back into the office. Roughly half chose not to. We’ll have occasional in person stuff, but that’s usually even more casual.

    The only time we’d really need to dress up is for client meetings, which are rare.

  121. EventPlannerGal*

    Ours never officially relaxed but there were months when I was literally the only person in the office, so… there was a definite ripped jeans and rugby shirt era circa April to September 2020. Now that more of us are back it’s back to the dressier end of business casual and I don’t think anyone has a problem with that – our work tends to attract people who like to dress up a bit anyway! Our CEO has been on a bit of a rampage about it recently, in fact, purging the office of jeans.

    I’ve personally found myself dressing more interestingly, I think – I can be a bit of a fashion victim sometimes and pre-covid I didn’t like my office dress code because it was pretty boring and bland! But I’ve kind of stopped caring and have been wearing more fun pieces that I would have saved for the weekend (not like crazy club clothes or anything but just more colourful/unusual/fun things) and nobody’s said anything. Long may that continue so I can get some wear out of some of my impulse buys…

  122. Pam Adams*

    I am an academic advisor AT A UNIVERSITY. Prior to the pandemic, business casual- primarily campus polos and decent pants were the norm. Campus T-shirts allowable in summer. During work-from-home, I’ve pretty much gone all t-shirts all the time. When we do return, I will need to buy some new pants- my current work-from-home pants are pretty banged up after a year and more of service.

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      I’m curious how this is supposed to work. A whole lot of people ended up gaining some weight during this pandemic. And at least where I am, none of the retailers are allowing people into fitting rooms. Are people just supposed to guess what size pants they might be now, and return anything that doesn’t turn out to be right? Buy something they know is going to be too big and rely on belts?

      Because of vanity sizing, you can’t just use a tape measure and say “OK, I am now this size”. That may have worked once upon a time in men’s clothing, but no longer there, and never in women’s.

  123. Cheesecake2.0*

    Interestingly, I just got an email yesterday that once we are all back in the office, we will be allowed 20 days of “super casual” dress code to get used to things again and then we will have to go back to our regular business casual.

  124. Suz*

    Ours won’t change. We were already casual before the pandemic. The only rules we have are no sweatpants/yoga pants, shorts have to be knee length, and no cheap flipflops. Nice flip flops are OK, just not the cheapo dollar store ones.

  125. A*

    No change (at least not yet) at my employer, but we already had a very relaxed and informal ‘dress code’. No official policy, but jeans and tshirts are allowed – just common sense stuff like avoid spaghetti straps, booty shorts, or shirts with swears on them etc.

    I will be very curious to see how offices that are not customer facing but still had more formal dress codes approach this post-COVID. I hope it leads to an approach similar to my employers. I actually always ask about dress code during interviews because I’m not in a customer facing position so I’m not a fan of being told I need to wear clothes I’m not physically comfortable in without a business justification (although I always have an extra blazer/dress pants/shoes at my desk in case of unexpected formal meetings).

  126. not that Leia*

    Admittedly, I work in a design field, so our business casual can already be pretty broad (as long as you look “nice”), so I don’t really see an official change coming. But honestly, I will be happy to wear some nicer stuff, both for variety and for general mood-enhancement. I LIKE feeling put together, and part of the de-motivation of the past year has been the lack of any reason to do these little things that engender joy, confidence, etc. (ie, the effort of worrying about toddler finger paint on my nice blouse has meant t-shirts. But I still like my nice blouse!)

  127. KellyKoo*

    Our company allowed its corporate staff to begin wearing jeans on Fridays in 2019. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, they created a “pandemic perk” that allowed corporate staff to wear jeans anytime we wanted to. Now that we’re slowly moving towards normal conditions, I’m wondering how they’re going to put that toothpaste back in the tube. I just don’t see how.

  128. Andy*

    Personally I think that the world which moves away from formal cloth is better world.

  129. El l*

    I agree with many that it accelerated a pre-existing trend. We were already going casual, this just made it more so. Part of this, besides social changes, is that the nature of work is changing. It’s more about working in front of a computer these days than endless daily account meetings.

    My unpopular opinion is that everyone* should wear formal clothes sometimes. Because formal clothes are great clothes. You just have to get them properly sized, have them actually flatter you, and get them in nice fabrics. You feel great when you do that, I sure do. More to the point, I for one behave and even think differently when I’m wearing formal clothes. The practice of dressing for something important is part of the mental process of preparing for that moment. You wear hoodies all the time, you lose all that.

    There will and should be a space for that. It’ll just be situational, that’s all.

    *No, I don’t mean literally everyone, there are ad nauseam exceptions.

  130. Anonymous Engineer*

    I work in manufacturing (fire-resistant uniform for in the field, which most people wear everyday even if they aren’t going outside). After a year of some WFH, sometimes in the office, we have finally settled, long-term, on 3 days in the office and 2 optional WFH. The uniform at work obviously won’t change but the expectation at home is pretty basic. I’ve done lots of video meetings in workout clothes (no undergarments showing though) with no issues. I see the occasional person in a polo shirt but most are in T-shirts.

  131. EA in CA*

    Our office was already pretty casual and folks would typically wear what they wanted. We rarely had clients visit the back offices since reception and the meeting rooms were at the front of the building along with the offices for the managers. However! Management did have to send around a memo reminding people that bathrobes and slippers were not office appropriate and should be worn only at home.

    In contrast to my friend who works for one of the top accounting firms, they were business dressed all day, every day, even at home. Dress code didn’t really change for her, except that she could wear a cardigan instead of a blazer if not on a client call.

  132. Jeans*

    We were already allowed to wear jeans pretty much every day unless it was a special occasion. What I would like to see is the “dress for your day” mentioned above becoming standard. Most days, there is a high likelihood I will be crawling on the floor to manage cables or inventory, thus jeans, and since the amount of time we spend outdoors has increased, there is also an increase in t-shirts/sweatshirts. If that changes, we will likely switch back to business casual tops more regularly.
    My favorite thing about my COVID wardrobe is that it now actually reflects my job expectations and lifestyle, where jeans, a t-shirt or blouse, and a cardigan are entirely appropriate 99 percent of the time. I only need one dress or pair of dress pants.

  133. ErgoBun*

    I work in a very traditional style of office with lots of layers of management and a long-standing tradition of business-to-business-casual dress. Our top brass have been jackets-and-ties type of people for 20+ years, but the official dress code was business casual. There was no real reason for it, as we almost never interact in person with the population we serve or any type of clientele. We had casual Fridays and work still got done, of course!

    I am DELIGHTED to say that our leadership agreed to “experiment” with casual dress code as we start slowly returning to the office. Personally, I’m pleased, because after the pandemic, I definitely don’t fit into my work trousers anymore!

  134. Pam Poovey*

    I hope it does relax.

    What we consider “professional” is often rooted in sexism, racism, ableism, classism, fatphobia, etc.

  135. Caffeinated Panda*

    Not quite the same, but I’m a teacher, and our school used to have uniforms for students. This year, in the name of equity between virtual and in-person students, all students were allowed to follow the dress code for “free dress” days and did not have to wear the uniform. I can’t see them putting that genie back in the bottle and I am thrilled about it – I hate enforcing uniform policy as much as the kids hate wearing it.

  136. Melandra*

    I am happy things are moving back toward normal, but what it might mean for our clothes is one thing I’m not looking forward to. I have loved working in pajamas or sweats or yoga pants over the past year, and I’m not happy about the prospect of putting on “hard pants” every day. It’s clear now that we are just as productive in sweatpants as we are in suits (not like that’s a big surprise) so I don’t know why we have to revert back to the old rules of dressing for work. If anything, I’m probably MORE productive when I’m comfortable…which for me means soft pants, a t-shirt, no bra, and no shoes. But that’s probably not going to fly and even if my office did decide to allow it, I doubt I’d be comfortable being around my colleagues in-person like that anyway. Somehow it’s different when we’re on Zoom.

  137. Me*

    I work in a library, and we haven’t gotten less casual. Sure, when I was working from home and not going to have a meeting that day I absolutely wore pajamas. But when I did have Zoom meetings, I at least wore a work-appropriate shirt and black sweatpants. Now that I’m back at the library, we’re expected to wear, well, public-appropriate clothing. I usually wear blouse-y shirts and black slacks, which is exactly what I wore before Covid.

  138. judyjudyjudy*

    I work as a scientist in biotech — my colleagues and I were working in-person throughout the pandemic because our work was considered essential. Our dress code has been and remains casual (jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers are allowed) but I don’t see things becoming more casual. You are not allowed to wear any garment in the lab that poses a safety risk, including open-toed or open-backed shoes, dresses and skirts that show any leg, or short trousers of any length (your whole leg must be covered). I have never seen anyone wear pajamas to work, but it is not explicitly prohibited. No changes for us, I think.

  139. Red 5*

    I work in DC. This wasn’t enough of an apocalypse to stop the Ann Taylor separates and rows of identical navy suit jackets with ties in various neutral shades.

    I mean, it looked dicey for a couple weeks there but you know.

  140. Tilly*

    My law office went VERY casual during shut down. (I’ve literally worn the same pair of jeans for 12 months. Plus, loud print sneakers. Plus some random shirt, which has been as casual as a black hoodie.)

    My boss has done the same. He’s the KING of do as I say, not as I do, so I keep bracing for the day he shows up in slip on athletic sandals and shorts, and tells the intern to send around a memo that suits are mandatory starting immediately.

    It’s just a matter of time.

  141. Petty Editor*

    It’s become policy at our Fortune 100 company to “dress for your day” even at corporate headquarters – reversing decades of resistance to anything less than conservative corporate attire except on fundraising pay for jeans Fridays.

  142. Kara S*

    I work in tech so…. our dress code was extremely casual to the point of being nonexistent before and will likely not change post-pandemic. I’ve worked at multiple companies that do “pyjama days” where I’ve re-worn pants I had already worn previously, just with a more casual top or sweater. I don’t see any reason we’d become more formal and it would be difficult to be more casual unless sweatpants become acceptable every day which is unlikely!

  143. noshop*

    I would guess few people want to overhaul their closet to support a whole different level of formality in work clothing. I only have a couple of loungewear items that I wear on lazy evenings, but I have plenty of slacks, blouses, and cardigans to mix and match into a month of different outfits.

    1. Red 5*

      Yeah, I’ll be honest that’s the primary reason my work wardrobe probably won’t change. My closet is about two thirds work clothes, and I hate clothes shopping.

      That said, I have also always prioritized comfort in buying my work clothes so my work clothes are only maybe 10% less comfortable than my non-work clothes. The main reason I haven’t been wearing them while remote working is so that they last longer because the more casual stuff is just cheaper to buy and easier to find and replace. Finding comfortable, well fit work pants is annoying.

  144. Tara*

    I work in Finance and I don’t think our company is relaxing our dress code. When asked, our CEO said we needed to take a ‘common sense’ approach, and clients weren’t going to invest in a company where they saw people in the lobby in flip flops. That said, with our ‘go in when you want to’ model currently in place, and about 10% of people in, I’ve been dressing pretty casually and am just waiting to be called out on it.

  145. Teapot Wrangler*

    I see it as ending up more casual, just accelerating an existing trend. More polo shirts than shirts, jeans from time to time if you’re not seeing clients rather than just Fridays but I don’t think everyone will end up in jogging bottoms and flip flops!

  146. caps22*

    Our dress code hasn’t changed, and it’s pretty relaxed. But for me, I’ve gotten so used to not caring if an outfit is ‘flattering’ that it’s still hard. I wore jeans and a nice top the other day when I went back in for a day, and it took me forever to pick out the outfit because the first few tries made me look pregnant, didn’t seem appropriate from behind when sitting (waistband droop), or was uncomfortable for the several temperature changes during the commute and office. It’s so nice to put on a nice shirt and comfy jeans at home to look good for video calls but not have to work about an ‘outfit’ that looks good top to bottom, 360 degrees, and without a convenient wrap handy in case it gets cold.

    1. kicking_k*

      Yes this. I used to be seen head to toe, but now I so rarely am that it seems more important to be presentable on the top half. A lot of my work outfits are dresses, but I’m getting increasingly annoyed by having to wear tights…

      I bought some black stretch jeans without the intention of wearing them to work, but they actually look fine – they’re not even obviously denim, and they’re comfier than any work slacks I’ve ever had (which is why I always wore dresses before). So I’m getting another pair and maybe another decent shirt and calling it good.

  147. Miss 404*

    We had already relaxed our dress codes a lil before the pandemic (the “dress for your day” guidelines others have mentioned), and since that basically works out as “no holes, stains or swearing” I doubt we’ll get any more casual than that.

  148. Fat Man*

    Our institution is huge, and if I was at the main office I’m sure it would be different. But I’m at a tiny satellite office, and our office head gets to make the call for the office. When he came in (about five months pre-COVID) he’d made a big point about us all dressing more professionally than we had been, but once COVID hit he decided that didn’t make sense after all, and he’s been the most casual of all of us (sometimes showing up to the office in a henley and jeans, if he didn’t have a meeting.) For now, at least, we’re still in “use your judgment” mode–I wear a suit for meetings outside the office, and usually a button down with no tie if not, as opposed to suit every day pre-COVID. (Our office second-in-command wears a suit every single day, but he’s made clear he doesn’t expect us to emulate him–he’s just more comfortable that way. I don’t get it, but hey, you do you.)

  149. Beth*

    I am a manager at an environmental nonprofit where we conduct field monitoring, run education programs, and meet with scientific collaborators or potential donors or attend donor events, possibly all in one day. We also take a ferry and golf carts to get to work. So dressing for comfort and durability has been more important when I go to the office than at home! I usually wear a business logo t-shirt, polo, or sun shirt (fishing shirt with a collar) with hiking pants or shorts (yes, shorts!). Bring nicer clothes to change into if I have a meeting. I get a little envious of the head of our fundraising team who always looks beachy-fashionable!

  150. C*

    I think in client-facing roles dress codes are unlikely to relax. I work in healthcare so our clients are patients and if your role doesn’t have a uniform then smart casual is the norm. Relaxing that to jeans or similar would not be appropriate and some dress-code rules are there for infection control rules.

  151. Epsilon Delta*

    My office has not announced anything regarding the dress code so I assume it will remain the same when we return in a few months (business casual + jeans. And they really resisted the jeans). I’m glad I switched to a remote role because all the clothing stores that sell officewear nearby seem to have gone out of business or switched to selling casual clothes.

  152. Ole*

    We were business casual before the pandemic with jeans allowed on Tuesdays (for a donation to a weekly charity) and Fridays. Now we can wear shorts on Fridays in the summer (when it’s mentioned in a Thursday email) and jeans whenever we want. I don’t know if they have an end date for this, as we are still under lockdown and there is no end date for a pandemic.
    We’re a relaxed office anyways, getting more relaxed in the pandemic – drinks in the boardroom on the last Friday of the month has changed to a drink cart coming around to our offices every Friday.

  153. Mmm*

    I have definitely gotten more casual at home and others have as well in the office when it’s been at partial capacity, but my office dress code will for sure go back to what it used to be. Some of the people might be able to get away with more casual attire if they don’t interact with leadership or have a lot of meetings, but no joggers or jeans or yoga pants. It’s a thing with our CEO. They would have us all in suits if they could. Business casual is considered a concession already. And honestly, I would like to dress up again a little. I feel like it is good in certain situations so I’m looking forward to having a reason to break out my blazers (no point in wearing anything nice with the kids at home). All my work clothes are decently comfortable so it’s not really a big deal to me. Black pants, shirt, blazer. Loose dress, blazer. Flats.

  154. funkydonut*

    I know I’m late so no one will see this, but just in case:

    TRY ON YOUR OLD WORK SHOES NOW. BEFORE YOU HAVE TO GO BACK. Don’t make the mistake I did of trying to put them on the night and realizing they didn’t fit anymore!

  155. Sarah D*

    My office is more casual than most, albeit with a higher emphasis on fashion (corporate office of a retail company). We’ve always been allowed/encouraged to wear jeans, and many jeans in the office are ripped. I do wonder if there will be more acceptance of athleisure in my office, especially as it becomes more trendy.

  156. Kat Em*

    Our dress codes were never particularly strict to begin with, mostly a “use good judgment” with jeans and sweaters being common, but ripped jeans not so much. (I do remember a CEO wearing fancy-looking flip-flops to an all hands meeting quite clearly.) Some people seem to have taken the formality down a notch, and I expect that will stay the same after the pandemic, but the range of acceptable and common clothes (from sneakers and shorts to shirt and tie with most folks somewhere in between) will stay the same. If it’s not ripped, doesn’t say anything offensive, meets safety guidelines, and covers your bits, you’ll still be in good shape. I’ve been going bare-legged a lot more while working from home, but once I’m back in an office with AC, that won’t be feasible anymore.

  157. DE*

    Where I work (in office, we are essential workers who can’t do the majority of our work from home) we’re already so super casual I can’t imagine it changing. And we are even embedded with the customer. The way I see it, unless you’re like… a lawyer, most offices really don’t need a formal dress codes, so it would be a benefit to everyone if dress codes were more relaxed in general.

  158. Zudz*

    I have a collection of cufflinks, and carefully selected ties to match my custom tailored French cuffed shirts (in a variety of colors). I have basically always been (loudly) overdressed at work, and I don’t intend to stop now.

  159. Prof_Murph*

    I know I’m an outlier but I’m looking forward to wearing my work clothes again. I’m sick of lounge wear. I invested in nice clothing for professional settings and it made no sense to wear them while working from home with no else around. Having different wardrobes for work and home also goes a long way in helping me keep the work/life balance distinct.

  160. Sopranohannah*

    The beauty of being in healthcare. The only thing that ever changes about my work clothes are the colors.

  161. Ally*

    We were business dress pre-COVID. I wore pant suits or dresses with blazer and heels. My spouse was “essential” and went into work throughout the pandemic and he dressed casual. Other coworkers were wearing flip flops and shorts. We’re now hybrid virtual/in person and seem to be settling on nice casual (sandals, slacks, tee, maybe some jewelry, and significantly less makeup than pre-Covid). All of my meetings are scheduled in outdoor areas so I don’t see anything wrong with dressing for the weather as long as my clothes are clean and neat. I had a meeting with our CEO last week and would have usually dressed in my nicest business but instead we were in business casual and sat on a patio. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m enjoying it!


    We were already down to t-shirts and jeans with athletic shoes as long as we werent in a customer facing role. I dont see that policy changing when we return to the office, if we return.

  163. cindy fields*

    For me it is the bigger takeaway from all of this, do the type of clothes we wear impact our ability to do our job? I get those in customer facing roles and the expectation of our customers. For instance, we had the month of May jeans all month. To my knowledge nobody’s job suffered from wearing jeans. I think we need to take a hard look as to the ‘why’ behind our dress codes. I will out myself as a babyboomer so not a 20 something that wants to questions things. Let common sense rule.

Comments are closed.