The official 2020 uniform can be summed up as a neutral button-up paired with sweatpants. Business on the front, party in the bottom. Mark Zuckerberg said that as many as 50 percent of Facebook employees could be working from home within the next five years. Twitter and Slack said their staff can work from home indefinitely if they choose. As our world continues to weather this pandemic, many of us are still working from home. Companies like Twitter and Facebook are letting their entire workforce work from home, while other companies like Shopify, have declared work from home a permanent change once the pandemic passes – sharing thoughts and ideas with one another through tiny little Zoom screens.
Being on Zoom can often feel like running into your teacher at the grocery store — Oh, you are a normal person who shops for fresh produce too? But, as we intrude into the homes of one another, have the rules changed? Are we still judging each other as harshly as we would in the office or on a date? “She hasn’t washed her hair in weeks…” the mean girls chatted offline.
Because there is no rule book on how to dress appropriately for all things online, we decided to chat with an expert. Award-winning Hollywood costume designer and celebrity stylist Leesa Evans loves using clothing as a tool for confidence both in life and online. Her work can be seen in films like “TrainWreck,” “Bridesmaids,” “Always Be My Maybe” and “Zoolander 2.” Keep reading for Evans’ tips on not only looking good, but feeling good.
Do you think that there is a dress code for virtual meetings?
Leesa Evans: Sometimes when you get a little dressed up for a Zoom call, it’s very inspirational to people. You are subconsciously sending out the message “hey, we are all gonna be okay.” It’s like my spirits are high and I’m sending out love and good thoughts to everyone by rising up from our own situation myself. If I get on a work-related call, I spend five minutes getting myself to a place where if I were in person with them, I would feel comfortable too. This also helps to put you in a different place of mind like you’re here to connect. Just like if you are talking to your doctor on a telemedicine call, I imagine they are wearing their white lab coat because there’s a level of professionalism and a certain uniform that comes with certain jobs. The uniform gives us as a client the confidence that this person takes their job very seriously.
We are all onscreen now. Can you share some tips you have learned from movies?
LE: I find with the size of each little square of the Zoom call that it’s really important to keep your clothing very simple because it’s the sum of the parts as we are all looking at each other. If you have a dozen people on screen and they’re all wearing heavy patterns it’s too intense to pay attention properly. Solid colors are helpful, but if you want to pop it with something bright that’s great.
- True neutrals are medium camel/tan and grey – these look great with any bright color.
- The pop of color can be in an accessory, top or jacket, but I recommend one pop of color at a time for a Zoom call.
- It’s ideal if you have a classic piece such as a blazer or button down shirt in a stretchy fabric because then you can accomplish professional and comfort in one look.
Without our normal beauty appointments, some of us are looking a little less glam than we used to. Do you think that people are using the same barometer they once did to judge appearances?
Sometimes when you get a little dressed up for a Zoom call, it’s very inspirational to people.
LE: I sure hope not because judging each other based on appearances is one of the things we need a revolution around. I think the one of the best things that has happened with us being at home is that we’ve all let down our own guard with ourselves. We have more compassion and more interest in how people are doing from a true mental health/physical health/family kind of experience. That has nothing to do with the exterior things like what you have or how you dress. I think we are all going to come out of this a little bit differently. We are all going to say we need less and we are going to have a lot less judgment towards ourselves first and other people second. I think that judgment really starts because we are judging ourselves.
Biggest piece of style advice?
LE: This is the basic rule with feeling confident in your clothes: It’s all about proportion. Proportion is as individual as a thumbprint, so no two proportions are alike which makes buying off the rack clothing often difficult in terms of knowing what’s right for us. Once we understand our individual proportion, it’s easy to know not only what’s right for us, but what to look for when shopping and better yet clear the clothing from our closets that’s not working for us to have only the 100% yes pieces in our lives for lasting confidence in our everyday dressing. You know when you don’t feel good in something, you’re pulling and tugging and you’re constantly thinking to yourself like “I shouldn’t have worn this why am I wearing this I don’t feel good”? When you do feel comfortable in what you are wearing and when you do feel confident, it’s so profound.
What would you recommend wearing on a first (virtual) date?
LE: I would probably wear something a little bit softer and maybe a cream or blush color. I would put on a tiny bit of makeup and even throw my hair in a bun. I would make sure that the lighting was good. I would want to be comfortable so that I could truly be myself and the focus would be on my face and what I was saying. Sometimes out on the streets if you are wearing black, you look super fashionable but sometimes that can come across as “oh that person is super stylized.” If someone wearing red, you’re like “oh that person is really bold.” I would want to start off with “hey this is who I truly am.” There is something kind of grounded with those paler tones or earth tones.
What is the optimal Zoom lighting?
LE: You need a little bit more direct lighting because the dark tones of the call make it hard to see contrast and people’s facial expressions which is normally key. More front lighting, but not totally blown on. If you can get natural light, that really helps. I would say keep it a little brighter than you normally would, because it makes it easier to connect with people.
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