Ultra Vires


Fashion in the Age of Zoom

Bold monochrome, dainty gold, and shopping local 

We are currently living in a waist-up world. The pandemic has no doubt changed various aspects of our everyday lives, including our wardrobes. Clothes have always been a way to express our identity and our intentions, so how do we convey that when people could only see the top quarter of our bodies? Well, here are some tips to help you make your best first impression even if it’s only through your webcam.

Brighter is better.

A downside of virtual meetings is the camera can often wash you out when you obviously want to stand out. To avoid this, don’t be afraid to make more bold outfit choices. Instead of a traditional white button up, try finding a shirt with a brighter colour. Light blue, dark green, mustard, and burgundy are all more unique options that are still considered to be professional. If you prefer to just have a small pop of colour to pair with a neutral shirt and blazer, you can wear a brighter coloured tie or wear a bold red lip. 

Trend tip: As shown at Joe Biden’s inauguration, monochrome outfits are timelessly trendy. Layer a sweater or shirt with a blazer of the same colour to immediately look put together. If you’re brave enough to stray from the colours listed above, a big trend for this year has been soft pastels (maybe to soothe us from the turmoil of the world). Sage green, lilac, sky blue, and pale yellow are nice options.

More is more 

Typically, for an interview, you should keep things simple but simple doesn’t mean plain. Don’t be afraid to wear some delicate jewelry or, if your outfit is mostly neutral, you can opt for a statement necklace. Watches are also a subtle accessory that can say a lot about your personality (just, please don’t wear a calculator watch).

Layering is also a great way to add depth to your outfits. Wearing a coloured button up under a sweater, adding a vest over a shirt, adding a blazer over a dress, or a combination of these can make you look like you really put an effort into your look, which can translate to you’ll really put effort into a job. 

Trend tip: It seems that gold jewelry is back in this year, specifically dainty gold jewelry (try raiding your mother’s or grandmother’s collection). If you prefer silver, that’s perfectly fine too – just avoid rose gold (very five years ago). More eclectic jewelry has also become trendy – rough-cut gemstones in unique shapes make interesting pieces. These are abundant among independent designers and the best part is, the piece you buy will be unique and extra memorable. Try not-amazon.co for some Toronto designers — the site just came up last holiday season and provides huge lists of local small businesses. The top layering trend this year has been sweater vests – wearing a patterned one over a plain shirt can elevate your look.

Background is key

Basic rule is to have balance so you don’t blend into your background. If your background is busy, wear solid colours. If your background is just a plain wall, wear something patterned. If your background is colourful, wear neutral colours. 

Since the person you are conferencing with can only see so little of you, your background can say a lot about you. Make sure you don’t have any Amazon delivery boxes or an unmade bed or a poster from your frat boy days is behind you. A bookshelf is a great background if you have one but make sure it’s organized. If you’re filming in front of a blank wall, which is a good safe choice, don’t be afraid to stage it – drag a houseplant behind you or hang up a tasteful art print. 

Trend tip: Being stuck indoors has led people to hoard houseplants – they can easily make your living space more lively. If you’re looking for an art print, I suggest trying shopping local like on not-amazon.co or on Etsy. This year has increased people’s interest in ethical consumership as well as supporting BIPOC businesses. If this is something you’re passionate about, having a product by a small business you admire could be a great conversation starter. 

Wear what makes you feel good!

It’s hard being positive these days and planning outfits may not be your priority. However, there is a link between dressing up and your overall mental state. Professor Francis T. McAndrew, who teaches at Knox College said, “If you look at how you are dressed, that signals something about what you are prepared to do. If you are dressed professionally and you’re dressed up, in some ways that raises your own opinion of yourself, and you want your behavior and demeanor to match the clothes.”

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