Southeast Missouri State University student publication

How to dress for at-home success

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

As Southeast shifted to online learning on March 30, many courses opted to conduct classes over Zoom, a video conferencing website and app that allows users to video chat in a group.

With new learning media comes new questions: How will the new technology work? Will classes be delivered differently online? And of course — How should I dress for a Zoom class?

Forbes suggests individuals take on the characteristics of the clothing they wear — casual clothing may make the wearer feel more at ease, while professional attire can extend a productive mindset to a home office.

Graphic by Ally Bruemmer

As the article explains, incorporating small changes — such as a dressier top with casual pants, or nice slacks with a more comfortable shirt — can boost your mindset from extended spring break to the second half of the spring semester.

In addition, Forbes reported clothing can also function as a means to set boundaries between classwork and recreational time, helping to compartmentalize the two.

Junior fashion merchandising major Anne Unger advised students to spend time doing their regular morning routine, similar to what they would have done if they attended an in-person class. Even if this means just changing into a comfortable outfit and grabbing a laptop from across the room, Unger said, this can make a world of difference.

“Just doing the basics helps me to start my day, so I’ve already accomplished one thing. So what comes next on my list? And second? And third?” Unger said.

In addition to classes, Zoom may be more heavily integrated into job searches as well through video interviews.

Director of Career Services Dan Presson said this year will see the latest internship applications, with many companies likely hiring in late April and May as COVID-19 shifts hiring timelines. Social distancing and shelter in place mandates can prevent traditional in-person interviews, allowing more interviews to be conducted virtually.

So, you’ve got an internship or job video interview scheduled -- how do you make the best impression over Zoom?

Presson advised students to position themselves in a well-lit area, preferably facing a window with a neutral background. If someone would position themselves with a window directly behind them, Presson said, the person would be difficult to be seen on camera.

Presson said while filming in a personal area such as a bedroom would be adequate for a class setting, this environment may be too distracting for a professional interview. In addition, the interviewer may catch a glimpse of decorations or posters that could be off-putting for the hiring manager. A solid-colored wall as the background would be the best bet for this situation, Presson suggested.

Both Unger and Presson agree: when dressing for a video interview, professional outfits are built from the bottom up. That means sweatpants, pajama pants, shorts and other casual bottoms are off the table.

“I would put the whole outfit together because you’ll feel more put together,” Unger said. “You dress how you feel, so if you’re only half put together, you’re really only half paying attention or half there.”

Presson shared that a student he was counseling had a video interview with Nike in which the first question asked was for the student to stand up. The student had dressed in a full suit, he said, but the representative from Nike was checking to make sure he was fully prepared for the interview.

Bottom line? First impressions can be made faster than someone can say, “Zoom!” so be prepared!