The Handbook
The Handbook

Is this era of Zoom meetings and Houseparty catchups causing us all to dress business up top but slob like down below?

Is it just me or during lockdown have you started getting dressed in the morning from the waist up, and belly button southwards it’s all Sweaty Betty and H&M leggings on repeat?

I blame Zoom. Every morning we have an editorial meeting and while I love them – they get the creative juices flowing, they turn my work mode on and it’s genuinely nice to see my colleagues’ faces and feel like a team during these strange times – they can be somewhat sartorially challenging. I want to look put together but I am sat on a dining room chair that’s not intended for longer than two hour stints, anything that’s going to up the comfort level, I’m keen for. I tried jeans: not comfortable. It’s made me ponder why we decided unbendable, stiff trousers should be the casual bottoms of choice for the last 50 years or so.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s more often than not business up top, an oversized ruffled collar is a great distractor and big earrings can make a white tee and scraped back hair ‘fashion’. If I looked pulled together on the screen, I feel better and definitely work better.

There will be fashion purists out there in horror at the thought of this that think a full #ootd is a must from 8am onwards –  probably the kind that wouldn’t dare be seen without polished nails – but, quite frankly, there are bigger fish to fry right now and as long as everything looks shipshape above deck, who cares if there’s a little slobbery going on down below?

And by the looks of things I’m not alone. Online retailer Boohoo have seen a surprising boost in sales during the coronavirus crisis, with profits up 54% on the previous 12 months. The company, which also owns brands like Pretty Little Thing, has said this is down to a particular item. A spokesperson from Boohoo told the BBC “Sales of tops have gone up in particular, with everyone wanting to look smart on Zoom calls.”

It’s not just WFH hours that have us rethinking our looks, as our social lives have been turned upside, so have our wardrobes. The other night my boyfriend and I hosted a Zoom quiz night and dressed up accordingly – from the waist up that is. Him in a blazer, shirt and tie but with Scotland football shorts below screen and me in a fully sequined (it was a bit much) Needle & Thread number, but Game of Thrones socks to keep my feet toastie. No one was none the wiser and loved the “effort” we’d gone to.

I hosted a Zoom quiz night in a fully sequined (it was a bit much) Needle & Thread number and Game of Thrones socks to keep my feet toastie. No one was none the wiser.

Hair and makeup have been my saving grace. Some people can rock the fresh faced Google Hangout look with aplomb. I need a little help. I’m definitely not going full face day-to-day, but a bit of CC cream, bronzer and mascara are a must if I want to feel pulled together, even if I am just wearing loungewear.

And on the occasions I have gone all-out with the makeup – a smoky eye or a bold lip – I’ve felt so much better staring back at myself for the allocated 40 minute Zoom call. Plus, I’m pretty sure a bit of contouring actually looks better on the screen than it does in real life.

I tonged my hair before the weekly girls’ catch up recently and one of my friends asked if I’d broken rules to go to the hairdressers. Highlight of my week considering my hair looks borderline Brian May right now.

Of course, there are no rules, well, there are none at my work or among my circle of friends anyway, and if you want to go full-on Carmen Miranda or strip it back to PJs does it really matter? I guess for me it’s about injecting some normality into a time that feels anything but. And for me, a ruffled collar and a smokey eye is just that.


Big Earrings

Think Pat Butcher proportions. Zara do great ones at high street prices and they’ll come in handy once wedding seasons recommences. Weddings, remember those?

Fancy Collars

Anything that makes you look like a choir boy, Amish or Louis XVI.

Oversized Headbands

The secret to elevating a jeans (or joggers) + white T-shirt combo lies in the oversized, padded headband.

A Great Top

Floral print, puff sleeved, going-out-out vibes or boardroom chic, who cares what you’ve got going on down there when it’s all business up top.


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