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What’s the Dress Code?

I went looking for Anne and found her standing in front of her closet, looking perplexed. I waited a couple of minutes, not wanting to interrupt, but when she continued to stand there, I asked, “What’s up?”

Anne turned around, but she didn’t smile.

“I am having a hard time deciding what to wear,” she remarked.

Wow! I have never known her to be indecisive, especially not when it comes to appropriate attire! I have often observed both women and men asking her for advice on what they should wear to a specific occasion, so this is a very unusual situation.

“Where are you going?” I asked, trying to be helpful.

“This is my first in-person business meeting since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions, which you know have kept me working from my home office for more than two years. Working from home was not new for us (we have been doing that since 2001); the “virtual” or Zoom meeting is now universal - we all appear on video – from the waist up.

“We adopted the practice of “Top Dressing;” smartly attired on top and less so in the middle and on the bottom. I am not so worried about what to wear on the top – I have several smart jackets that are quite suitable.

And, I am not worried about the colour - you know it will be black.

“It is the middle and the bottom – pants/skirt in the middle and shoes on the bottom.

“I am torn between wearing a skirt or pants.

“According to Vogue, Town and Country, Homemakers, Cosmo, and Bazaar, “business attire” is all over the place! Many businesses have told their employees to “dress for your day” – without providing any definitions. Others have opted for a more prescriptive approach, often telling women what they may NOT wear.

“All agree that a blazer-style jacket, button front white blouse with collar, and wide-leg trousers make a “safe” uniform. Some suggested that a dress with coat over, as First Lady Biden often wears, is more becoming. The skirt fans are flexible with mini, midi and maxi lengths, all acceptable, if not becoming.

“The prospect of struggling into pantyhose has me definitely leaning towards trousers!"

“And then we have the shoes. After two years of comfortable footwear (You know I have a range of sneakers: some leather, some fur-lined, some with platform soles, some sparkly!) I am most concerned about what shoes to wear.

“I see everything from sneakers to stilettos paired with skirts, trousers, leggings, and jeans.

“Yesterday, I put on a pair of heels – maybe 2.5 inches – definitely not stiletto height. Would you believe I had to hold the handrail with both hands to navigate the stairs? Those shoes are hazardous! No doubt someone will devise a shoe insurance policy to protect us in case of disastrous falls!

Oh boy, I could see that Anne was really struggling with this “first world problem,” but I couldn’t think of how to help her (you wouldn’t expect owls to wear shoes of any kind).

After a period of silence, Anne shook her head and shut the door. Together we went back to her office without making a decision.

What would you suggest? What did you wear to your first in-person business meeting? Or are you facing the same conundrum? I would love to hear from you!


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