Vaccination rates are going up, mask mandates are slipping away, and our lives are gradually returning to normal. That means we may be returning to the office. Or even going on dates. So it's time for a Variety refresher course on something we may have forgotten how to do: dress up. Let us introduce you to a few post-pandemic, high-fashion concepts, starting from the top down.
You probably spent the past year wearing tops that you pulled over your head. But dress shirts need to be fastened in the front with a sophisticated feature called the button. They also have a flappy piece of cloth around the neckline called the collar. Some collars even need to be fastened with buttons, too. Fancy schmancy!
Pro tip: Make sure each button lines up with the corresponding hole. For a polished look, make sure the shirt's care label is worn on the inside.
We've all enjoyed the convenience and comfort of the elastic waist band. But to put on real pants, you have to undo the top button and another tres chic device called the zipper. Once on, many pants are kept from falling down not by stretchy elastic, but by a constrictive band of material called a belt, often made of leather. Buckle up!
Pro tip: In public, the zipper on your pants should always, always be up. Leaving the zipper down is not just a fashion faux pas; it may also result in a trip to your company's HR department, where you may be mocked with a sing-songy poem about London and France.
Shoes are not always warm, soft, fuzzy things you can shove your feet into without even looking. When you re-enter society, tightfitting leather shoes are considered the height of sophistication. Some feature string closures that must be tied with a special knot. (Ask a Boy Scout or sailor if you don't remember how.) Leather shoes might not be comfortable, especially if they feature something called high heels.
Pro tip: The right shoe should look exactly like the left shoe. OK, not exactly. One shoe is designed for the left foot, the other for the right. They'll look and feel odd if you get them mixed up. It's confusing at first, but you'll get it.
If you manage to find a jacket that matches your pants in color and material, congratulations! You're wearing a suit — a high-powered outfit normally seen in the elevated ranks of the C-suite. (That's the reason bosses are sometimes referred to as "suits.")
Pro tip: Not every outfit in which the top matches the bottom qualifies as a suit. Pajamas are not a suit. Neither is matching sweatpants and sweatshirt. As a general rule of thumb, always remember that if it has a hood, it's probably not a suit.
A one-piece garment that covers the body from the neck down and is open around the legs is called a dress. Most often worn by women, it's considered particularly sophisticated. (That's where the word dressy comes from.) Dresses can be worn for everyday or special occasions. Such as when one gets married.
Pro tip: And though they may seem similar in fit, form and function, a bathrobe is not a dress. Does that seem arbitrary? Yes. But we don't make the rules.