What if Working in Sweatpants Unleashed Your Superpowers?


Publish Date:
March 21, 2022
The Wall Street Journal
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Tech companies figured this out long ago, says Richard Ford, a Stanford Law School professor and author of a book on dress codes. Silicon Valley behemoths long attracted prospective talent with bountiful buffets, on-site salons and the ability to do it all in a sweatshirt.

No wonder many of us are working longer and harder now that we’re comfortable at home, without the bookending ritual of peeling off our black pants and blazers at the end of the workday.

As we head back to the office, a few days a week or all the time, Prof. Ford believes the standards will change.

“The kind of clothing you see people wearing on Zoom is just going to become understood as professional clothing,” he says. Tailored sweatshirts, tennis shoes and some athleisure wear will be fair game at the office, he predicts.

Within limits, that is. Pajama pants, he notes, are still a no-go. And some bosses will bristle at the shifting norms. One manager at a tech company told me he can’t help but judge workers who wear baseball caps on video calls; they don’t seem like leadership material, he says. Other employees confessed that they just feel weird not slipping on a jacket for presentations.

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