Zoom in: workwear for video conferencing

Lockdown has introduced a new sense of priorities when it comes to getting dressed for work. The top half is all business. The rest... is up to you. By Jessica Beresford. Photography by Lara Angelil. Styling by Isabelle Kountoure

A game of two halves… Prada mohair jacket, £2,135, and silk shirt, £640. Bremont H-4 Hercules limited-edition rose-gold watch with alligator strap, £17,995. Slippers, socks and jewellery throughout: Birkenstock shearling slippers, £135. Marwood merino-wool socks, £25. Maria Black gold-plated necklace, £152. Charlotte Chesnais yellow-gold vermeil Brahma rings, €550 for set. Earring, stylist’s own
A game of two halves… Prada mohair jacket, £2,135, and silk shirt, £640. Bremont H-4 Hercules limited-edition rose-gold watch with alligator strap, £17,995. Slippers, socks and jewellery throughout: Birkenstock shearling slippers, £135. Marwood merino-wool socks, £25. Maria Black gold-plated necklace, £152. Charlotte Chesnais yellow-gold vermeil Brahma rings, €550 for set. Earring, stylist’s own | Image: Lara Angelil

Virtual meetings are the new normal. The likes of video-conferencing tool Zoom – which in March was one of the most downloaded apps in the US and the UK, according to mobile-analytics platform App Annie – has replaced the desk-side catch-up.

Ami virgin-wool jacket, £1,035. Stella McCartney sports bra, £49.95. MSGM cotton shorts, £55. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra steel watch, £4,350. Chaos gold-metal lanyard, £90
Ami virgin-wool jacket, £1,035. Stella McCartney sports bra, £49.95. MSGM cotton shorts, £55. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra steel watch, £4,350. Chaos gold-metal lanyard, £90 | Image: Lara Angelil
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In this climate, workwear has become a head-and-shoulders affair. While we may want to comply with normal work dress codes up top – a blazer, earrings and lashings of mascara are still in view – anything goes from the waist down. MatchesFashion and Browns have all reported spikes in people buying loungewear. “We’ve seen sales of casual and loungewear double in recent weeks,” says Browns’ womenswear buying manager Holly Tense. Blankets – the kind that can be surreptitiously draped over chilly legs – are also proving popular. “Sales of throws have tripled in comparison to last year,” says Chelsea Power, senior buyer at MatchesFashion. “Our customers are clearly after optimum comfort.” Scotland-based Begg & Co, which specialises in cashmere and lambswool wraps and throws, has seen a 258 per cent increase in interiors sales in recent weeks.

Stella McCartney recycled-polyester jacket, £1,075, and silk shirt, £525. Tag Heuer Auvatia steel watch, £2,750
Stella McCartney recycled-polyester jacket, £1,075, and silk shirt, £525. Tag Heuer Auvatia steel watch, £2,750 | Image: Lara Angelil
Stella McCartney recycled-polyester jacket, £1,075, and silk shirt, £525. Sunspel cotton tracksuit pants, £125. Tag Heuer Auvatia steel watch, £2,750
Stella McCartney recycled-polyester jacket, £1,075, and silk shirt, £525. Sunspel cotton tracksuit pants, £125. Tag Heuer Auvatia steel watch, £2,750 | Image: Lara Angelil

It’s a similar story at Olivia von Halle, the UK-based pyjamas and loungewear brand, where revenue for March was up 275 per cent from the previous month. “March is usually a relatively quiet period for us. However, sales this year have been exceptionally strong,” says designer von Halle. “Our silk pyjamas and silk-cashmere tracksuits have been particularly popular, as customers seek out pieces that are desirable in lockdown.” British brand Sunspel, which sells relaxed crew-neck sweatshirts and easy-on-the-eye track pants, has also seen a spike in loungewear: sales went up 142 per cent in March.

Ermanno Scervino wool jacket, £1,560. Olivia von Halle cashmere tracksuit pants, £995 for set. Breitling Avi Ref 765 1953 Re-edition steel watch, £6,590
Ermanno Scervino wool jacket, £1,560. Olivia von Halle cashmere tracksuit pants, £995 for set. Breitling Avi Ref 765 1953 Re-edition steel watch, £6,590 | Image: Lara Angelil
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On Instagram, stylist Suzanne Koller has been documenting her WFH outfits from quarantine in Paris with the hashtag #anotherbirkenstock – and has thus far showcased quite the collection, including the classic Arizona two-strap style, and the brand’s most recent launch, the 1774. Whether you choose to wear your Birks with socks or a bathroom pedicure, however, is up to you.

This story was originally posted on 16 April 2020.

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