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16th October 2020

Appearance in the age of Zoom: How to dress for a virtual class

As Zoom lectures and virtual classes are taking over our student experience, one question still remains – what do we wear?
Appearance in the age of Zoom: How to dress for a virtual class
Photo: Ekaterina Bolovtsova @ Unsplash

Following The University of Manchester’s decision to suspend face-to-face teaching, students have become increasingly familiar with Zoom classes and virtual learning.

Although we’ve quickly gathered the online etiquette of muting the mic when you’re not talking and not joining a lecture late (that bell sound can become very irritating), there’s one thing we haven’t quite cracked – what do you wear to a virtual class?

Dressing for a Zoom lecture can seem quite difficult – you don’t want to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed, but a professional-looking blouse may feel too formal whilst sat at home.

The answer to these struggles is simple – layers. Yes, you heard me right, this autumn style staple is also applicable for your Zoom classes.

The theory is that you look more put-together with various elements rather than wearing a carelessly thrown-on hoodie and calling it quits, plus this helps you to brave the freezing student house conditions that you’ll have to study through.

Our personal favourite look is the classic jumper-and-collar combo, which is the epitome of looking ready to learn while still staying somewhat comfortable.

Although online university gives you the freedom to wear whatever you like, there’s one forbidden garment in the midst. No, it’s not the strappy blouses or short skirts that traditional dress codes would forbid, it’s actually sleepwear!

Although we understand where staff are coming from with this – you wouldn’t really turn up to an in-person lecture in your old pair of fluffy Christmas pyjamas – something about it doesn’t quite seem fair.

One student says “we’re being forced to attend lectures stuck inside our grimy Fallowfield houses, where working sat in bed is the only option for many of us, so to forbid us from being comfortable in pyjamas just seems stupid!”

While the debate over the perfect, non-sleepwear looking top to wear for a Zoom class ensues, there’s an apparent lack of direction in the bottom half of our outfits.

Online classes promote style from the waist-up, but what does this do to the future of footwear and trousers?

Realistically, there’s no need to change out of pyjama bottoms or gym leggings, and it’s probable that current trends will begin to revolve around pairing elaborate tops with more casual garments on the bottom half.

It’s the Zoom-induced mullet – business on the top and comfortable on the bottom – which has lead to the temporary death of the mini skirt and mom jeans.

For some people comfort isn’t key, and instead Zoom lectures are all about standing out in a class full of people. A funky headband or accessory is a great way to do this, or you could even go bold with some eye-catching colours.

One student says “on Zoom, image and sound are the only things to go on, so I want to present myself in a way that reflects me … I’ve been doing some gem makeup (Euphoria style) and wearing funky tops” to embrace her fearless, fashion-forward appearance.

Speaking of makeup, an important question has formed during virtual teaching – do we really need it? It’s no secret that webcam quality is below average, and this combined with being only a small icon in a digital sea of faces makes it easy to ignore the need for makeup.

No one is going to notice how voluminous your eyelashes are or spy the couple of spots on your chin, plus do we really need to wear makeup only to sit in the house all day?

Woman sat on bed wearing loungewear on laptop
Photo: Sincerely Media @ Unsplash

However, the webcam is famous for washing out your complexion and making your face look flat, so bronzer and blusher may be your best friends for bringing some life back into your face.

Makeup can also be used to accentuate the features that are getting lost on screen and make you feel less self-conscious about fellow students constantly staring at you during a Zoom call.

Much like how comfortable trousers are taking over our wardrobes thanks to the power of Zoom, it’s possible that our beauty routines will also face permanent changes in this digital world.

Bushy brows are becoming much more favourable compared to neatly filled-in ones, and Zoom’s ‘beauty filter’ smooths out your appearance in real-time so there’s no need for a flawless base.

One student has even shunned the use of mirrors altogether, claiming that “I do my hair and makeup every morning whilst looking in my webcam. It doesn’t matter if my skin looks flawless in person as people can’t see that, it’s the webcam version of myself that needs to look pretty”.

Daisy Bradbury

Daisy Bradbury

Fashion Editor

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