The “zoom shirt” is a trend born out of working from home. It’s too easy at home to not dress up for work at all. Or get out of your pajamas. And so, the “zoom shirt” became a quick way to reclaim some level of professionalism when on zoom business calls, but something you don’t have to wear all day while working from your couch.
Adolf Loos, the Austrian architect said in 1903, that a person is properly dressed not when he stands out but when he is wearing the correct apparel for the moment at hand. Because the “moment at hand” is so unprecedented it can be hard to know exactly what the appropriate business attire actually is. We are all aware that we are sitting in our homes. That through zoom, we are viewing people in their informal setting. It can seem wrong to appear as we did before. Seeing someone in a suit sitting at their dining room table can be jarring. But on the other hand, a level of professionalism is excepted. Late night host Seth Meyer got a bit of backlash for dressing too casual for his show, which is now filming in his house. People said that his overly causal clothes undercut his delivery of important topics. So, there has to be a happy middle ground.
The office wear brand MM.LaFleur coined the phrase “mullet dressing” business on the top, party on the bottom. Having a simple go-to article of clothing nearby your workstation can make it easy to quickly look professional on camera at a moment’s notice.
Joe Farrell, the executive vice president of Funny or Die, has gotten so good at the zoom shirt he was interviewed about in in the New York Times. Farrell has a short sleeve button down shirt he keeps on the back of his chair. He has worn it for 70 consecutive days. He kept waiting for someone to notice and no one ever did. He says that every time he has told people about it, he expects them to call him out for it, instead all they do is tell him about their own zoom shirts.
Talking to the New York times about why he has continued to try and dress up for zoom meetings, Timo Weiland, the creative director of the fashion company that bears his name, said, “It’s about preserving a sense of professionalism in a formless environment, where the sense of urgency is gone. I have 7 to 10 Zoom meetings a day, and I feel far less prepared if I’m wearing a hoodie-and-pajamas look.”
What makes a good zoom shirt? It can be any article of clothing that you can quickly throw on to feel more professional: a scarf, jacket, a button down, sweater, anything really. The things that make a good zoom shirt are ironically similar to things that make good travel clothes. It needs to be easy to store, doesn’t get wrinkled easily, works for many types of social settings, and ideally doesn’t have to washed that often.
Do you have a “zoom shirt” already? What do you think makes a good zoom shirt?