Avers

Senior Member
Coronavirus canceled office clothing. These stores are in big trouble

Kiss your sharply-tailored menswear, your sheath dresses and high heels goodbye.
The new work-from-home reality has rapidly recalibrated the fashion code for professional wear, and that spells trouble for the retailers who sell formal office clothing.
On Wednesday, Brooks Brothers, the 202-year-old menswear retailer that has dressed 40 US presidents and is synonymous with the classic Wall Street banker look, filed for bankruptcy as demand for suits plummeted amid the pandemic.


Meanwhile, Ascena Retail Group, which owns Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant apparel chains, told Bloomberg it's weighing all options to stay afloat after its business was hit hard by a pullback in clothing purchases, including officewear. Ascena is reportedly planning to shut at least 1,200 stores. It has 2,800 locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.


The turbulence has ensnared Men's Wearhouse, too. With more than 10 million men who've lost their jobs and millions more working from home in recent months, buying a suit is hardly a priority. Tailored Brands, which owns Men's Wearhouse, could be another retailer in the space mulling bankruptcy.
Ascena did not immediately respond to request for comment, and Tailored Brands declined to comment.


With more work calls and team meetings now taking place from the comfort of home, office wear has become decidedly more relaxed. It's a shift that's been occurring for years, as employers in more buttoned up industries like financial services competed for talent with tech companies and upstarts that had their own, more laid-back work cultures.

'Nail in the coffin'
The pandemic may have ended formality forever.
"Brooks Brothers' bankruptcy filing is really quite incredible," said Jessica Cadmus, a New York-based stylist whose clients mostly work in the finance industry.
Cadmus worked at Brooks Brothers earlier in her career, helping to set up a client concierge service for the company's flagship store on New York's Madison Avenue. "The reality is that workwear trends have been shifting for a while now and sadly the pandemic was the final nail in the coffin."
Even prior to the national shutdown, Cadmus said her clients were gravitating to a more relaxed work look. "There was an enormous shift taking place towards business casual," she said.


Last year, Goldman Sachs announced that its employees could start dressing down for the office. The Wall Street firm has historically favored collared shirts and suits.
"Then when Covid-19 hit and people were forced to work from home, there was an absolute halt in buying formal workwear," said Cadmus. "The emphasis from my clients now is on polished loungewear, where the fit is not as tailored and comfort is key."
Her male clients, she said, are looking for new shirts but not trousers. "They are not asking about sports coats, suits, or shoes. It's just shirts," she said. Women want statement necklaces, earrings and broaches instead of suits and dresses for a more put together look for video calls.
Some people aren't even changing out of their pajamas. In June, 47% of consumers told market research firm NPD they are wearing the same clothes throughout most of their day while at home during the pandemic, and nearly a quarter said they liked wearing activewear, sleepwear, or loungewear most of the day.
"People clearly do not want to change into multiple outfits throughout the day, especially under these circumstances," Maria Rugolo, NPD's apparel industry analyst, said. "It is about blending and maximizing one's wardrobe. They still want to look presentable for work, but also want to feel comfortable."


Stylist Nicola Harrison, whose clients include professionals in finance and other industries, acknowledges that workwear is now less dressy.
"But I've also been pushing against it," she said. "For men, suits and sports coats provide a polished, professional look. And let's be honest, they are very forgiving and hide a multitude of sins."
For her, casual is acceptable at work to a degree. "Dark jeans, button-down shirt, a sports coat. You just shouldn't go too far in the other direction because you are working from home." Her "don'ts?" Ill-fitting polo shirts or clothes from your college days.
"Fit is key even with a casual look, even for a Zoom call," she said. "With all the craziness happening in the world, the one thing you can control is your appearance. So why let yourself go?"


 

Troones

Senior Member
I've been seeing a lot of, for lack of a better term "triumphant" commercials, mainly for automobiles, celebrating the coming return to normalcy, with the car companies telling us that they're "there for you" when that happens.

I'd love to see a similar commercial for a traditional menswear store. Imagine; it starts with a closeup shot of a man stepping out of his front door, face covered in a surgical mask. He reaches up, and pulls down his mask. The shot widens, showing the gentlemen's perfectly tailored suit, complete with tie. He does up his perfectly tied knot, and steps forward with a look of determination.

The tag line could be something to the effect of "XYZ Store welcomes you back to business."

I know that sounds a little hokey, but something like that could re-enforce the idea that out in the real world, taking pride in your appearance is still something to shoot for.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
I've been wondering if masks will take the place of ties in the coming style revolution -- and I am only half-joking. As I wander around in the "post-covid/apocalyptic" streets, I notice all sorts of masks, and wonder how they will look made out of different materials (linen for summer, worsted wool for winter, oxford cloth or broadcloth, etc.) and different patterns, like regimental (or other) stripes, checks, tattersalls and so on. Maybe masks will be cut in different styles and the number and size of pleats, and which way they open -- up or down -- will add to the variety. There can be other modifications to help make speech clearer -- as things stand now with most masks, speech can be difficult to understand at times when someone speaks through the mask. Already, Ben Silver has advertised masks made out of shirting material. Who knows, perhaps entire shops will open up just to sell various lines of masks!
 
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whiskeydent

Starting Member
I think the larger question is whether companies will continue to rent millions of square feet in office space. In Austin, I've heard of serious companies letting go of multiple floors in downtown buildings and having their employees work from home. They maintain some space for IT and maybe meetings, but that's it.

If this is a real trend, there's going to be a lot empty buildings in downtowns across the country. And empty buildings will lead to empty banks and empty wallets.

Have a nice day!
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
I think the larger question is whether companies will continue to rent millions of square feet in office space. In Austin, I've heard of serious companies letting go of multiple floors in downtown buildings and having their employees work from home. They maintain some space for IT and maybe meetings, but that's it.

If this is a real trend, there's going to be a lot empty buildings in downtowns across the country. And empty buildings will lead to empty banks and empty wallets.

Have a nice day!
Indeed, it is frequently the fallout, after the initial blast that accounts for the more significant loses! :(
 

andrewdc

Starting Member
Our office leans very casual unless we have an outward-facing event like taking testimony or conducting hearings, but the dress code for testimony hasn't deviated from suit and tie if we have video conferences with anyone outside the company. It looks and feels odd wearing a suit while I'm sitting in a home office, but it happens once or twice every few weeks. Honestly, once the weather cools off, i'm probably going to end up wearing suits by choice because it makes getting dressed for work simpler.

I have worn button down oxfords with suits and jackets for as long as I can recall. I suppose it left me looking more casual/less formal, and I didn't care because I just like button down collars more. Now, my mild informality is becoming more mainstream. silver linings...
 

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
The office suit has been dying a slow death for a while and COVID seems to be the final blow; soon the normal be weddings and funerals also be lacking suits. Think this is due in part most of these young folks growing up without Religion, Tradition, or having to do as told, instead, do as they see fit for themselves? Men wore suits because in a major part, was the Tradition, the way things were done and folks didn't question it.


Soon a suit will only be only worn by those choosing to do so?


Andrew, thanks for sharing about wearing a suit at home, interesting. Now that must self isolate, do dress in at least a nice shirt and slacks for Zoom meetings, one time did wear a suit. The reason being I had acquired a wonderful light muted green Summer suit last Fall and couldn't stand waiting any longer to wear it. First time they saw me and now to them became the man in the suit despite not wearing one again. I didn't wear a sport coat for the telephone call with the SSI lawyer and regretted it, felt was not fully performing.


Look how malls are now being abandoned, soon be office parks it seems. What I wonder is what will happen to all this real estate, the longer it sits the more of a liability (ex. houseless people moving in). Here in the Phoenix Valley, wish the land could be used for housing, rather than using greenfield sites. If these lands become too much of a blight, maybe cities incentivize rezoning. Makes me miss my Grandfather, he was a property developer and investor, at least pick his brains.
 

never behind

Senior Member
I have been working from home since March. I use a tailor in downtown Indy that’s close to my office. I ventured to the office this week and took a pile of new purchases to her. Then I learned she is closing up shop. It was a family business; her dad was a tailor and her mom still worked with her. She’s going to continue to do things from home. But still, it was a sad day. :(
 

jackcatscal

Starting Member
The office suit has been dying a slow death for a while and COVID seems to be the final blow; soon the normal be weddings and funerals also be lacking suits. Think this is due in part most of these young folks growing up without Religion, Tradition, or having to do as told, instead, do as they see fit for themselves? Men wore suits because in a major part, was the Tradition, the way things were done and folks didn't question it.


Soon a suit will only be only worn by those choosing to do so?


Andrew, thanks for sharing about wearing a suit at home, interesting. Now that must self isolate, do dress in at least a nice shirt and slacks for Zoom meetings, one time did wear a suit. The reason being I had acquired a wonderful light muted green Summer suit last Fall and couldn't stand waiting any longer to wear it. First time they saw me and now to them became the man in the suit despite not wearing one again. I didn't wear a sport coat for the telephone call with the SSI lawyer and regretted it, felt was not fully performing.


Look how malls are now being abandoned, soon be office parks it seems. What I wonder is what will happen to all this real estate, the longer it sits the more of a liability (ex. houseless people moving in). Here in the Phoenix Valley, wish the land could be used for housing, rather than using greenfield sites. If these lands become too much of a blight, maybe cities incentivize rezoning. Makes me miss my Grandfather, he was a property developer and investor, at least pick his brains.
Re appropriate wear for funerals, my wife was buried at the local national cemetery on May 11. Our ex-son-in-law, who works for a Silicon Valley company, wore a bright pink short-sleeved shirt with blue polka dots. I was annoyed.
 

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
Re appropriate wear for funerals, my wife was buried at the local national cemetery on May 11. Our ex-son-in-law, who works for a Silicon Valley company, wore a bright pink short-sleeved shirt with blue polka dots. I was annoyed.
I am sorry for your loss and being mistreated. Says a lot about you allowing him to attend, especially since a former member of the family.
 

Dhaller

Advanced Member
I went to the *wrong funeral* once (long story), and I was the only one there in a suit!

I'd like to think the deceased enjoyed a moment of irony from on-high.

DH
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I went to two funerals back in about 2008 within a month of each other and which were the first funerals I had attended in years (always a good thing when there's a big gap between when you have a funeral to attend). I was struck by how, at the first one, for an accountant in the suburbs, very few men wore suits or sport coats and ties. Most were in jeans and hoodies/parkas, etc.

I was a surprised and, initially, a bit negative about it as I thought it was rude. But as I thought more about it, I guess the answer is that if that's what everyone does, then it isn't rude as it's the new standard. Heck, we all get that the important thing is that many people attended his funeral out of respect and feelings for him and his family.

The second funeral in 2008 I attended was for a policeman (heart attack, not line of duty) and the dress was more mixed. Many police in uniforms and the others ranging from suits and ties to hoodies and jeans. The transition was on. Since then, for the few funerals I've attended, most people were casually dressed.

Something else I've noticed though is that in current TV shows and movies, most (not all) funerals show people well dressed - men in dark suits and ties, women in dark dresses - as, my guess, it visually looks appropriate to the somberness of the occasion and Hollywood knows visuals.

I wonder how long Hollywood will continue to portray funerals that way when the real world seems to have moved on from that standard.
 

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
I went to the *wrong funeral* once (long story), and I was the only one there in a suit!

I'd like to think the deceased enjoyed a moment of irony from on-high.

DH
Hmmm, well I have attended a funeral I thought was for a husband of a new acquaintance in a dog rescue group I just joined, turned out knew neither, closest I come to going to the wrong funeral. At least they had a dog at their service (I have a SD and was told this by several people).
 
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Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
I went to two funerals back in about 2008 within a month of each other and which were the first funerals I had attended in years (always a good thing when there's a big gap between when you have a funeral to attend). I was struck by how, at the first one, for an accountant in the suburbs, very few men wore suits or sport coats and ties. Most were in jeans and hoodies/parkas, etc.

I was a surprised and, initially, a bit negative about it as I thought it was rude. But as I thought more about it, I guess the answer is that if that's what everyone does, then it isn't rude as it's the new standard. Heck, we all get that the important thing is that many people attended his funeral out of respect and feelings for him and his family.

The second funeral in 2008 I attended was for a policeman (heart attack, not line of duty) and the dress was more mixed. Many police in uniforms and the others ranging from suits and ties to hoodies and jeans. The transition was on. Since then, for the few funerals I've attended, most people were casually dressed.

Something else I've noticed though is that in current TV shows and movies, most (not all) funerals show people well dressed - men in dark suits and ties, women in dark dresses - as, my guess, it visually looks appropriate to the somberness of the occasion and Hollywood knows visuals.

I wonder how long Hollywood will continue to portray funerals that way when the real world seems to have moved on from that standard.
One year, I lost 10 friends and relatives, attended seven services, most had lived their lives. Thinking back, can't remember any with the majority in non-button shirts, most were in at least a button up shirt and jeans. Oh and by the way, the Church I used to attend, a lot of them didn't wear black to a funeral, to them it was mostly a celebration of life (myself was shocked the first time and asked an Elder). I myself don't own a navy suit (something been wanting to remedy, however, no OTR works for an Autumn), so go in a midnight blue blazer (gift from Grandmother when I was in High School before understood about pale skins and wearing blacks). Think this is a nice compromise, especially if I was the only one wearing sartorial clothing?

Interesting thought about portrayal of funerals, never thought about the discrepancy. Interesting how traditions linger and now I do wonder myself how long that will last. Then how will the somber mood be projected?

Know folks like us will always dress appropriately despite the current trend. However, I do wonder about my niece and nephew's generation, who saw the transition (in my family my Brother and Sister still dress for a service). In other words, how long will this too casual fashion will become tradition.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
About a year ago, I went to a neighbor's funeral. Too heavy for my suit, I felt bad in a tweed jacket and flannels. The casket arrived, 6 family guys in L/S shirts and ties, NOT one jacket.
Sadly, things really do seem to have changed for the worse in my eyes, but to each his own I suppose. At the last three funerals I have attended I wore a suit, while most others wore no jacket at all. However, the pall bearers were suited. I will admit that funerals down here can be a bear to bear, especially the graveside service(s). Wearing a suit adds to that burden. :(
 

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
Sadly, things really do seem to have changed for the worse in my eyes, but to each his own I suppose. At the last three funerals I have attended I wore a suit, while most others wore no jacket at all. However, the pall bearers were suited. I will admit that funerals down here can be a bear to bear, especially the graveside service(s). Wearing a suit adds to that burden. :(
Why more a bear to bear down there?
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Why more a bear to bear down there?
That was just my attempt at describing in a humorous way how hot and humid it gets ere in the summer months and the incompatibility of such weather conditions with wearing a business suit. It can be done, but it sweats the vigor right out of a person! When I wear a suit in central Florida, I try to spend as much time as I can in air conditioned spaces! LOL. ;)
 

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
That was just my attempt at describing in a humorous way how hot and humid it gets ere in the summer months and the incompatibility of such weather conditions with wearing a business suit. It can be done, but it sweats the vigor right out of a person! When I wear a suit in central Florida, I try to spend as much time as I can in air conditioned spaces! LOL. ;)
I have worn a wool suit and wool thermals, while standing in the sun at a service, plus Opa's DB in Summer, neither time vigorously sweating. Guess do run cold. :p

On a serious note, figured the weather, however, you know what they say about assuming. ;) What about a dark suit in a cotton or linen?
 
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