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Why You Should Rewrite the Rules for Going Back to Work, Post-Pandemic

We're in a pivotal moment when we have an opportunity to rewrite all the rules about work, work attire, and work-life balance, and we’re here to guide you through it.

By Caitlin Abber

Picture this: It’s 7am on the morning of November 8, 2021, and you’ve woken up on the right side of the bed. Like most mornings these days, you have a few extra minutes to stretch, sip your coffee, and casually prepare for your day. Donning a pair of work-friendly leggings and a washable silk shirt, you tidy up the house a bit before slipping on a pair of sneakers and your favorite trench and heading out the door. The leaves are off the trees, but the crisp fall air doesn’t smell like winter just yet. You quickly look at your calendar to see that although your day is full, it’s perfectly manageable, and you’ll definitely make it to your 5:30pm therapy appointment. The days of stuffy clothing, frantic scheduling, and living to work are far behind you, and you couldn’t be happier.  

This isn’t an impossible fantasy. As many of us prepare to return to the office, we have an opportunity to shake things up and make our lives better in the process. We can demand flexibility in our hours, as well as our wardrobes. Those elastic waistband, bra-optional, work-from-home pieces we found so comforting this past year can stick around for as long as we want them to (maybe even forever). That Wednesday afternoon yoga class we’ve been doing over Zoom? We’ll be blocking it off on our calendar and going in person. If we play our cards right, we can rewrite the rules of the office, reimagine the dress code, and redefine the word “professional” to make work—and everything that goes into it—finally work for us. 

Of course, getting there is going to take innovation, creativity, and inspiration. But future you is worth it, and we’re here to help. 

Why We Want to Help You Rewrite the Rules

We recently polled our own Instagram followers, and an overwhelming 65% said they were feeling anxious about going back to the office (the other 35% said they were excited, which we can understand, too). Those who reported feeling anxious had a wide variety of reasons: contracting and spreading Covid, of course, but also a fear of having to give up everything they’ve gained over the last 15 months of working from home, like more family time, mastery over their schedules, and gaining back time previously spent commuting.

On the top of our survey-taker’s list was a concern over what they were going to wear. 73% said they planned on dressing differently than they did before the pandemic, but only 57% said they were actually looking forward to getting dressed at all. “I’m happier and more effective in soft, comfortable clothes,” said one survey-taker. Unsurprisingly, over 80% of our respondents said the thing they’d miss most about working from home is being able to wear sweatpants. 

We know from the questions you ask our stylists about your changing size, the types of pieces you searched for and purchased, and how you’re building your back-to-work wardrobes now that comfort—not just in the form of sweatpants, but also in soft T-shirts, decadent silks, and even fuzzy slippers—is your number-one priority, and we believe you shouldn’t have to give that up just because you’re going back to the office. “The past year marked a dramatic shift in the way we spend our days, and it dramatically affected the way we dress, too,” explains Miyako Nakamura, M.M.’s Chief Creative Officer. “Comfort became more important than ever. While we’ve always seen comfort as a very important part M.M. clothing, ‘comfortable’ got redefined. We now think of comfort as liberating, kind to your skin, and able to make you the best version of yourself.”

This is why we want to help you “rewrite the rules”: In the past, many of us would’ve spent our days stuffed into shapewear and erect in stiff suiting, bound by dress codes that were not designed with our bodies, lifestyles, or comfort in mind. But those days are over—if we want them to be. We can do our jobs and be comfortable. Heck, we might even be better at our jobs if our pants are a little less tight.

How We’ll Help You Rewrite the Rules

The good news is, whether you’re hoping to rewrite the rules for your career, your work wardrobe, your work-life balance, or the overlap of all of the above, we’re here to help. Over the next few weeks, the M Dash will dive into what it means to rewrite the rules for returning to the office and exactly how to do it. We’ll speak with members of the LGBTQ community who found the freedom to explore their gender expression while working from home, and we’ll talk to experts about what working moms can do to reshape their expectations (and the expectations others have of them) when it comes to “doing it all.” We’ll also share how the past 15 months have changed our own perspectives on productivity, professionalism, and our complicated relationship with work.

And of course, we’ll talk about clothes. Working remotely has obviously been influential on the way we dress for work (just consider the popularity of the terms “hard and soft pants,” and everything they represent). It’s doubtful that, after over a year of “mullet dressing,” we’ll go back 100% to full suits, high heels, or pantyhose. But how should you reimagine your work wardrobe for your 2021 hybridlife? What should you buy, throw away, and hang onto, just in case? We’ll help you figure all of that out, and we’ll make it as quick and painless as possible. As M.M.’s CEO, Sarah LaFleur, explains, there’s an added benefit for answering those questions as soon as possible. “If re-entering the office is causing anxiety, it’s great to have clothes that fit and make you feel comfortable in your own skin.”

So slip into something soft, and let’s start rewriting. It will be that beautiful November morning before we know it. 


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Caitlin Abber

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and OprahMag.com.

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