On Sunday, I wore three different outfits. Gym kit for a yoga class with friends; a sundress for our al fresco brunch afterwards; white jeans, a cashmere jumper and lipstick to share dinner with my parents and sister. All, it should go without saying, without coming into physical contact with another soul, or even setting foot outside my front door.
Weeks spent at home – working, socialising and relaxing within the same four walls – could mean a break from thinking about what to wear. As I live alone, you’d think I could spend my time in isolation wearing the same old pair of jogging bottoms without anyone being the wiser.
But the boom in video calls means otherwise. Before the coronavirus crisis, I can honestly say I’d never used Google Hangouts or FaceTime (except once, accidentally, when I’d wanted to make a phone call and was horrified to see my face appear on screen), and had never heard of Zoom or HouseParty – and I’m a millennial. But for all of us adapting to life indoors, the video conference call has become a lifeline.
Initially, they simply made working from home easier – my work team looks forward to our 1pm catch-up each day. While we have defaulted to comfy jumpers occasionally, we all agreed that the meetings with added lipstick and great earrings were balm to the fashion editor’s soul (see also Donatella Versace in striped shirt embellished with sequinned flowers).
But it’s not just our working lives going digital. Video calls offer a way to stave off loneliness, combat boredom, and create a new routine. And, with summer events from weddings to concerts cancelled, a welcome excuse to dress up.
Kitchen suppers are now multi-kitchen deals: one of my friends, an executive director of a charity, awards prizes for best beverage, menu and outfit for our weekly dinners, each with a different culinary theme set in advance, cooked in five different kitchens across London. The best outfit gong might hint at the dress codes for these evenings: more is more. Dressing for dinner has made a comeback, and it’s easier than ever before as you needn’t consider the weather, the practicality of your shoes, or what coat to wear with your evening frock.
At the beginning of the lockdown, many postponed special occasions like birthday parties. But a few weeks in, and with a fixed end point not yet in sight, it seems important to find joy where we can, and find new ways to celebrate. Birthday parties held over Zoom range from relaxed, like the pub quiz that fashion publicist Daisy Hoppen’s friends threw for her 35th birthday last week (Hoppen, who’s isolating alone, wore a floor length gold gown by The Vampire’s Wife with jewelled Manolo Blahnik heels – changing into her Celtic & Co slippers midway through the night).
Wherever you’re (not really) going, here are seven tips for Zoom dressing, all the tools for which you should already have in your wardrobe.
1. Dress from the waist up
This one’s obvious – no one can see what you’re wearing below the waist, so direct all of your effort towards a polished top half and wear slippers if you fancy, though party shoes always cheer me up (apologies to them downstairs).
2. Go bright
Take a (green) leaf out of the Queen’s book, and dial up the colour a few notches. Not only do bright colours read brilliantly on screen, they can also positively impact our moods – red is energising, green, blue, and purple calming. Avoid black or grey, which are draining next to the face, and use print with caution, as there’s a reason TV presenters avoid the stuff in favour of block brights – it can go a bit trippy on screen.
3. Raid the jewellery box
Now is not the time to be sparing with your sparkle. We might not all have HM’s brooch-drobe, but big earrings, necklaces, hair clips and bands will all work in your favour.
4. Work your angles
Lighting and camera height and tilt can make for a flattering, or less so, version of yourself. Tom Ford offered this advice to The New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd: ‘Put the computer up on a stack of books so the camera is slightly higher than your head. Say, about the top of your head. And then point it down into your eyes. Then take a tall lamp and set it next to the computer on the side of your face you feel is best. The lamp should be in line with and slightly behind the computer so the light falls nicely on your face.’ I’ve found added candle light to be flattering, too, and make the most of those dimmer switches - avoid downlights or spots, which will cast harsh shadows.
5. Do the Zoom Groom
You needn’t do a full face of make-up, but ‘slightly overcompensate as video can make you seem flat,’ says make-up artist Rachel Singer Clark. ‘Curl lashes and do a few coats of black mascara, and fill brows to create a great arch. Mac’s lip pencil in neutral Spice will give your lips framing and subtle volume so that when you speak it’s clear – but no one would ever know! A cream blush makes you look flushed and lively but not overdone.’
6. Don’t save anything for best
Bought a new frock for a now-cancelled wedding? Been waiting for an opportunity to wear that completely impractical tulle blouse you bought in the sale? Now is the time. One can never be overdressed in one’s own home.
7. Remember the backdrop
No one need know that you haven’t done last night’s washing-up yet: find a tidy corner, take five minutes to arrange a vase and a few objects in shot behind you, and the job’s a good’un. Or, if you can’t find a tidy corner, avail yourself of Zoom’s virtual backdrops and remote in from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge instead.
The Daily Telegraph
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