Fashion Tips for the Back-To-Worker

By Robert Goldman

May 27, 2021 5 min read

You're leaving your fortress of solitude and going back to the office. Wonderful! Soon you'll be seeing your co-workers again. And they'll be seeing you.

That might not be so wonderful.

Your post-pandemic body may not be what it was, but let's face the facts: It never really was what it was. And besides, in the highly evolved environment that is your workplace, people understand that body-shaming is wrong.

It's not what you weigh that counts. It's what you wear.

This is a point that A.C. Shilton misses almost completely in "Banish Anxiety About Your Post-Lockdown Looks," her recent article in The New York Times.

Shilton does a good job comforting those of us who have gained weight after spending a year in isolation with only our refrigerators to keep us company.

For example, she reports on research that shows that "an increased consumption of media — which can glorify thin bodies — could contribute to anxiety over body image." This means you should stop watching "Real Housewives," or if this is impossible, you can balance your exposure to skinny socialites with a powerful antidote — regular doses of the "Walking Dead."

Compared with a bunch of blood-thirsty zombies, you look pretty darn good!

After reviewing a bunch of psychological jujitsu moves designed to justify and even glorify your post-COVID body, reporter Shilton finally gets down to what is actually important in making an impression in the workplace — your wardrobe.

In a section titled, "Try on Something New," we are introduced Rutgers University researcher Dr. Joy Cox.

"Needing new clothes because your old ones no longer fit is not a sign of personal failure," Cox says. She's right, of course. And given the shallowness of your co-workers, the way you fit in your clothes is a lot less important than the labels sewn in your clothes.

If raises have been hibernating at your company, and you can't afford a shopping spree at Gucci, Prada or Target right now, you can "rent clothes from brands like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft and Fashion to Figure." If you do decide to go the rental route, be careful. Miss a few payments and steely-eyed bill collectors could descend on your office to rip the clothes off your back, your front and everywhere in between.

If the necessity of putting on a good show when you show up to work is a problem, I can help. It isn't often that a fashion plate like me is willing to share their fashion secrets, but what the heck. Here you go.

No. 1. Sweatpants Are OK

Before COVID-19, only a complete loser would wear sweatpants to work. Even the most sporty and stretchy technical sweats said: "I no longer have any hope for my career or my life. I have given up."

This attitude has changed completely.

Management is so desperate to have you in their clutches and in the office that they are willing to accept any form of dress. Basically, if you're where they want you, you can wear anything you want. Plus, for the past year, your managers have been living in sweats, too. Their sweatpants are pinstriped and made out of endangered weasel hide, but they're sweats all the same.

No. 2. Shoes Are Optional

Remember all the time you spent shopping for shoes? Remember all the money you spent paying for shoes? Well, you can kiss Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Allen Edmonds goodbye. It's all about your slippers now — those soft, cushy booties that feel like you've slipped your feet into baked potatoes, and look like it, too.

If some human resources nerd stuffed into a power suit gives you any grief, explain it's part of your athleisure wardrobe. It's more "leisure" than "ath," but they don't have to know that.

No. 3. Accessories Are Necessities

You can skip the Tiffany diamond pendant and the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Today's No. 1 power accessory is your blanky — that tattered shred of cloth that has soothed and comforted you through the weeks and months of isolation.

Whether your blanky was originally a blanket or a flannel shirt or a dish towel, your insistence on wrapping it around you in meetings will warm the hearts of co-workers and managers alike.

You may also want to bring your stuffies to the office. Arrange them in chairs around the conference table in big meetings like the close associates they have been for you throughout this ordeal.

Just don't let Uni the Unicorn participate.

She's sure to intimidate the CEO.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Alexas_Fotos at Pixabay

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