What is a 'Zoom shirt' and do you need one?

This professionalism cloak lives on the back of your desk chair to be deployed whenever needed

Easy to pull on and fashion-forward, these would be excellent 'Zoom shirts', but the patterns mean people will remember them. If you want to reuse often, go plain. Unsplash / Brunel Johnson
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The pandemic has changed the way we work – homes have become offices and virtual meetings are the norm – and this may be affecting how we dress for work, too.

For many, dressing up in typical office attire to sit at the dining table simply isn’t worth it.

A poll by market research company NPD Group has revealed that only 10 per cent of people get dressed for working from home at the start of the day and then change into "comfortable clothes" later, as cited in The New York Times. The majority are staying comfy all day.

However, we still have to attend videoconferences in which looking professional remains vital – some may involve meetings with bosses, others with potential clients or members of your team.

Meetings can also crop up at the last minute. So how do you stay camera-ready?

Enter the "Zoom shirt", defined by Urban Dictionary as "a clean shirt or blouse that's kept on the back of your desk chair to quickly be presentable for videoconferences".

You probably already have one, or some form of one, maybe a Zoom jacket or Zoom shawl – something that makes the upper half of you say “I’m a professional”, while the other half might still be in pyjamas, tracksuit bottoms or shorts from your morning run.

What to look for in a Zoom shirt ... 

If you don’t have one, now is the time to consider adding one to your repertoire. It’s true that office dress codes have been evolving for a while – skewing towards casual, comfortable styles and away from the formal and buttoned-up aesthetic.

But even through the screen, the appearance of being polished and put together can go a long way when making a presentation, closing a deal, conducting interviews or discussing issues with a team.

When it comes to choosing your Zoom shirt, it is best to pick one that is easy to wear and suitable for different audiences. Depending on your industry and the people you speak to regularly, you will have a sense of the level of formality you need.

A good idea is to choose a neutral colour that can go with any background, for example, and ensures that the other participants won’t be distracted by a garish print or shade. It also means you can re-wear it for a few days without others noticing, let’s hope, before having to relegate it to the laundry.

A simple jacket is a great 'Zoom shirt' option. It will dress up even the most distressed of T-shirts. Unpslash
A simple jacket is a great 'Zoom shirt' option. It will dress up even the most distressed of T-shirts. Unpslash

It’s not only Zoom shirts that can cement a good impression via webcam. Videoconferencing etiquette has become a topic of discussion around the world. YouTube is rife with “video chat tips” and “how to look good on Zoom” content that shares information on lighting, camera angles and selecting the right backgrounds for videoconferences.

So a simple, clean, ironed shirt or jacket that you can throw on during the day is one way of keeping the boundary between work and home life intact.

Just be sure to give your video preview a glance to make certain your loungewear isn’t accidentally sneaking into the shot.