Dressing in the age of Zoom

How to dress when you’re stuck in video calls

I’ve spent a lot more time in video calls recently than I once thought possible. From an occasional novelty they have grown to be a mainstay of my working from home life. And like many people, this has got me thinking about the way I dress. I’ve realised that a lot of the ‘personality’ in my clothes comes from my lower half: a printed skirt, a pop of colour, or some quirky trousers. To my colleagues viewing me by video alone, I was just wearing black tops and jumpers all day every day (and the same one of the latter at that!). In an attempt to maintain some work-home separation, I’ve resisted the urge to go for all-out comfort, so have been trying to ‘dress-up’ for my day job. But this really has left me sporting one black top after another; it’s my work-wear comfort zone, if you will.

So I decided to challenge myself to bring a bit of variety to my upper half: I’d wear a different colour and/or neckline every day. I’d look different in each meeting, and hopefully a little less sombre. The world is dark enough right now without me constantly dressing like I’m on my way to a funeral. I have to admit that I found this week surprisingly challenging. I really had to stop myself from reaching for the black tops. I didn’t want to be only thinking of my top half (tempting though it was to wear yoga pants all week), so it was fun trying to put together cohesive outfits. I’ll let you judge how well I pulled off this challenge! Has the rise of Zoom got you thinking about what you wear? I’d love to hear your strategies and suggestions in the comments! Apologies in advance that the photos in this post are a quite grainy – I think something went a bit wrong with my camera settings!

Monday – Turtle neck top with Boden pinafore dress

Full length photograph of Helen wearing a dark orange turtle-neck top with a black, knee-length pinafore dress, black tights, and black Mary Jane court shoes with a gold buckle.

This is a look I have on occasion called my ‘New England librarian’ look, but it is really kind of inspired by The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I feel a million years older than Sabrina, so need to age up her style a bit, but I love the general vibe of her outfits. Here I went for a turtle neck with a black pinafore dress (from Boden), black tights, and of course Mary Jane courts. By the end of the day I felt a little claustrophobic in that turtle neck, but I think it was a strong start to the week, mixing both colour and a different neckline (albeit still with a hit of black.

Tuesday – Oxblood and witchy vibes

Full length photo of Helen wearing an ox-lood short sleeved shirt, with a black apron-style dress with a wide skirt over the top, black tights, and suede lace-up high-heeled boots.

A step a bit further into the witchy, but perhaps a more classic interpretation. This outfit felt better than it looked, not least because it used two items that had been hiding in the back of my wardrobe. I’m not sure I’ve actually even worn this dress before, so it was satisfying to try it out. The ox-blood shirt didn’t help with the slightly Halloween-y feel of this outfit, but who really minds feeling a little spooky sometimes? This is a look I’ll be trying again, mixing in different tops to keep it fresh.

Wednesday – Reworked tea dress

Full length photo of Helen wearing an orange tea-dress style top with white polka dots, a black circle skirt, black tights, and black Mary Jane courts with a gold buckle.

This top is actually a dress (featured in Shopping My Shipping) and this is one of my favourite ways to wear it. This vintage-inspired look leans into the ’40s shape of the tea-dress, pairing with the simple black skirt and those Mary Janes. This was one of my favourite looks for the week, getting use out of something I don’t wear that much (the dress) by styling it with one of my wardrobe staples (the skirt).

Thursday – Pretty polka dots

Full length photo of Helen wearing a black cap-sleeved dress with large pink, white and peach coloured polka dots, black  tights, and black suede lace-up boots.

This was the token ‘I can’t really be bothered’ outfit of the week. For what it is I’m still pretty happy with it. It’s a fun dress that always makes me feel cheerful, and I wore it with my favourite boots. Nothing too fancy or complex, but a simple, classic outfit. I’m looking forward to the summer when I can embrace the summer dress/picnic bitch feel of this outfit a bit more. But for now, it ticked the boxes of a different neckline with a bit of colour.

Friday – Simple silks and classic jeans

Full length photo of Helen wearing a green silky, three-quarter length sleeved V-neck top, black high-waisted skinny jeans, and black croc-effect boots.

For the last day of the working week I decided it was time to break out the trousers. These sky-high Levis are quite new to me; I bought them at Christmas and they didn’t really fit, so they’ve been languishing in my closet since. I thought they’d go well with the simple elegance of this green, silky top. I found this in Ghent, and I love the colour (regular readers will know about my green addiction) and the soft material. It’s a simple silhouette, but one I feel really comfortable in. To finish the look off I donned my new pointed croc-look boots, and felt satisfyingly tall and sleek for the rest of the day.

So there we have it, a week of dressing in the age of Zoom! Which look did you like best? Looking back I realise that I didn’t really step away from black as much as I had planned to, but I think it being winter is at least partly to blame for that. I chose a particularly cold week for this challenge, and when you know thick black tights will have to be part of your outfit it’s hard not to build out from there. I think summer video call dressing will have its own challenges. Dressing for Zoom gave me a really interesting new lens to view my wardrobe through, and it has left me with a new commitment to colour, and desire to mix-up my daily wardrobe. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to keep it up!

What tips and ideas do you swear by for getting through the weeks of video calls? Has it changed the way you dress? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below! Thank you for reading!


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