Why is dressing for online meetings so much more difficult than dressing for normal life? I know how to dress for work. I know how to dress for home. I do not know how to dress for both at the same time. If the meetings were audio only, I'd be in pajamas all day. But the meetings are always with video, and I go through about 30 outfit changes before I settle on something I hate but have to accept because the meeting began three minutes ago.
As if I needed something else to feel anxious about.
On a Zoom call last week, I realized 10 minutes in that I wasn't wearing a bra. I became completely distracted by this fashion faux pas. I tilted the camera up so it showed only my face, yet I was still paranoid about the lack of bra. After 10 minutes of constant fretting and missing my name being called twice, I decided this was ridiculous. Why was I suffering? I fixed the problem by putting on the sweatshirt that hung over the back of my chair. Great. Except it was unseasonably hot outside, and I began sweating profusely. My face was only about a foot from the screen as sweat dripped off the tip of my nose. So professional.
Perhaps the problem is I'm called into meetings so infrequently that I haven't had enough experience to understand protocol. I reached out to my friends who are high-powered executives and show their faces on video conference calls multiple times a day.
"What are you wearing for online calls?"
My one friend sent me a selfie of her in a Skyline Chili T-shirt that says, "I love a good three-way." Though I do love a good three-way (from Skyline Chili!), the shirt seems inappropriate to me — even for this weird paradox of home/work attire. To be fair, I'm not confident I'm right about this. My friend has been an executive at her company for a decade and is highly respected and regarded. But on the other hand, she recently told me that after a VP asked for updates on how employees were staying fit during the quarantine, someone sent a pole-dancing video to the entire company. And no, the company doesn't sell poles.
A few minutes later, another friend sent me a selfie of her in a very sleek lavender blouse, a sharp black blazer and pink granny panties.
"They can only see you from the waist up!" she wrote, along with many giggling emojis.
Why do people keep saying this? This is not true. During my Zoom call this week, my nearly naked daughter ran into my office and danced into view of the screen. I quickly jumped up to escort her out of the room. However, if I'd opted to go pantsless, my co-workers would have seen I was just as unclothed as my child. My friend retorted that she does not have a kid to cause such gravity-defying reflexes.
Which is true. But she does live in a state with spiders. What if there were suddenly a spider crawling on her chair? Is she really trying to convince me she would stay perfectly still and calm as a spider made its way toward her rump? What if a wasp got in and the little stinger buzzed around her head? No sudden movements would cause meeting participants to get a peek at her panties?
No, I thought after my friends' texts, I need to be fully dressed and in clothing that steers clear from comfort food sexual innuendo. But I remained perplexed. When I lived in LA, I was similarly stumped by the casual-chic attire that reigned. Well, which one is it? Am I supposed to look casual or chic? The trick seemed to be that one should work hard to look casual. So with the online meetings these days, are people supposed to work hard to look lazy, or are they simply supposed to be too lazy to pick out a work outfit? Is the outcome the same either way?
For my next meeting, I went with a sophisticated yellow blouse and shabby yellow corduroys. My husband informed me I looked like a giant bottle of mustard. Which was true, but I figured that no one else would think that unless they saw my pants. And no one is supposed to see your pants, right?
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.