Rewind with us, if you will, back to the heyday of dinner parties in the 1980s, where the concept of “tabletop dressing” gave style cues to focus one’s look from the waist up. Today, there’s an entirely different reason to dress just our top halves; with COVID-19 forcing so many of us to stay home, being on screen is all in a day’s work. And, given the fact that only our heads and shoulders make an appearance on webcam, styling ourselves up top (and taking a more lackadaisical approach down below) is now the norm as we get ready for our daily screen debut.
So, you might be able to work in your pajamas these days—but should you? Tyler Franch, vice- president and fashion director for Hudson’s Bay, believes there’s something to be said for getting dressed, even when you’re going it solo at home. “Looking and feeling your best can definitely have an impact on your attitude and motivation,” he says.
Award-winning beauty influencer Jill Lansky of The August Diaries certainly notices the difference when she takes the time to get ready. “Makeup and fashion can better your mood and increase productivity and confidence, which is important not only for motivational reasons, but for your mental health as well,” she says. “There’s something about a morning routine that gets you ready for the day.”
According to personal stylist Michelle Addison, how you dress while working at home speaks to your professional persona. “When your outside is put together, your inside can step up,” she says, adding that it’s also important to think beyond simply looking good. “What image are you putting out there? Does your clothing convey power and a sense of strength? While working from home has created a more-casual work style, I still recommend that people suit up and show up, as a good rule of thumb. It says, ‘I care, I’m working,’ versus being too relaxed at home.”
If you’re going to be on cam, you might as well step up your style to make the most of your screen time. Franch says his fashion must-buys for the season include transitional pieces that don’t compromise on comfort or style: “Women are elevating even the simplest work- from-home outfits by incorporating trends like statement jewelry and accessories in their wardrobe.”
When it comes to so-called “above-the-keyboard dressing,” he suggests adding some key pieces, like a puff-sleeve blouse that “shows beautifully over Zoom, and brings a level of drama with its statement shape,” jewelry that adds a layer of boldness and individuality to any outfit, and eye-catching hair accessories from a label like Lele Sadoughi that are “sure to be the star of your next Zoom call.”
Addison’s picks align with Franch’s focus on accessories, statement shoulder silhouettes and interesting necklines. “Women are now more inclined to try trends like bib collars, textured fabrics, embellishments, shoulder pads and layering accessories. Have some great necklaces to wear over your basics and rings to accentuate speaking with your hands while on camera,” she recommends. “You can do fashion. It’s your chance to put forward the best version of yourself. Always show up like you care.”
Outfits aside, there’s also potential concern for what your webcam face looks like. “As people spend more time on video conference calls, it causes them to take a closer look at their face and identify areas they would like to enhance. It’s the ultimate rude awakening when you look at yourself on Zoom and are confronted by dark circles under your eyes,” says Dr. Thomas Buonassisi, board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of 8 West Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Skin Clinic in Vancouver, adding that one’s appearance and confidence are intimately connected. “If people take care of their health, both internally and externally, naturally they will begin to feel confident and motivated while working from home. When you put your best face forward, it gives you the opportunity to really accelerate in your life and career.”
Like Dr. Buonassisi, Lansky sees a renewed spotlight on skin: “My followers and I are definitely doubling down on skin care by adding new products or steps into our routine. At-home skin and beauty routines have increased dramatically during COVID.” Her top tips involve “facial massage with gua sha and hyaluronic acid for hydration” along with DIY manicures and spa treatments for those who are staying home.
When it comes to makeup, less is more. “My favourite tip is to spot- conceal,” Lansky says. “No one needs foundation everywhere. It takes two minutes and makes you look so much more awake. Add blush, mascara (if you want) and you’re done,” she recommends.
In the same way that Addison and Franch see women experimenting with fashion trends, Lansky encourages the same type of play with cosmetics. “Many of us, myself included, are wearing less makeup in general, so minimal, glowing looks will be popular. On the other hand, [current] beauty trends are also very colourful. Makeup is a mood-booster and wearing bright colours is a great pick-me-up.”
The general consensus, then, is to get ready for Zoom, yes. But to go overboard? That’s a hard no from Addison and Lansky, both when it comes to what you wear and your surroundings. “Don’t compete with your background,” Addison advises. “Stay away from prints that are too loud or distracting, especially against a busy background.”
For Lansky, “Your skin looks so much more natural if you leave parts of it bare. There’s no need to overdo it! Also, don’t use an overhead light while on virtual meetings. It casts shadows in all the places you don’t want, like under your eyes. If you can, sit somewhere where light is in front of you, where it’s most flattering.”
Keyboard dressing comes down to presenting the best version of yourself, and fashion and beauty give you tools to tackle tough meetings in style. Working from home has its own set of challenges to navigate, but keeping up appearances is key. Even the dreaded afternoon slump is no match for a little style therapy. “On those gloomy days, wearing a great top paired with a bold lip can truly make a difference,” Franch says.
We’re all guilty of checking ourselves out when we’re on video; realizing that your appearance is less than ideal can give your business confidence a blow. As a result, Dr. Buonassisi of 8 West has seen an uptick in treatments at his clinic, both surgical and non- surgical. “Eyes, skin and lips are areas that will dramatically impact a person’s appearance,” he says, adding that there are plenty of minimally invasive options available for those who want relatively quick procedures with great results.
eyes. “Rejuvenating the area around the eye can significantly brighten your look. Neuromodulators, like Botox, and dermal fillers are quick and effective treatments for brightening the eyes by softening lines, restoring volume under the eye and lifting the eye and brows. They can help fill out intense lines or plump up hollow areas. It’s a natural and easy option to make your eyes look younger and more alert.”
lips. “Lip fillers are a great way to polish your look by creating shape or
adding volume to thin or aging lips. It’s a quick treatment that gives you beautiful plump lips. Injectables are a quick and easy way to rejuvenate your appearance with no downtime.”
face. “Our favourite laser skin-rejuvenating treatments are Halo and BroadBand Light (BBL). Halo will improve skin’s overall tone and texture, significantly remove discolouration and reduce pore size to increase your skin’s luminous glow. BBL produces clearer-looking skin that’s firmer and more even in texture.”
extra. For those who are looking for truly dramatic results, Dr. Buonassisi recommends surgical procedures like an eye lift. “Blepharoplasty is our most popular surgical eye treatment. It tightens sagging skin around the eyes and often involves removal of fat pockets that make the eyes look puffy,” he says.