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While Zoom limits what your colleagues could see through their screens, what you wear is still a mark of professionalism. Here’s how to look good from a former le Bal des Débutantes woman.

The line between spending time at home and working became blurred with remote work. While online conferences are typically filmed from the waist up, and you might think throwing on a shirt is enough, you have to reconsider your perspective. We speak with Monica Concepcion, co-founder of local fashion brand Kwento and a debutante at the prestigious annual le Bal des Débutantes in Paris last 2016. The charming millennial talks about her style and essential tips for dressing up for online meetings.

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Monica Concepcion.

Science behind clothes

Dressing up affects your mental space. It impresses upon your head about how you should be feeling and presenting yourself. Whether in a professional or a casual setting, studies show your clothes reflect your views about yourself. So, if you continue wearing a ‘decent’ shirt (which, in truth, doubles as your sleepwear) for an online meeting, then it greatly affects your mood. You might not be motivated to contribute to the meeting or even work for the rest of the day.

“Taking time to get ready… is already part of the goals you set in the meeting,” Monica says. “I think it sets the tone of how you are to tackle the meeting because I believe that how you feel with what you wear affects your attitude very much.”

If you want to look your best, then put more effort into your ensemble. This, in turn, boosts your confidence and improves your performance. You would feel even brighter as you enter the platform. If you feel good about how you look, then you are already self-assured and ready to take on what’s on the agenda.

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Into her closet

“I would say that my style changes every now and then. It really depends on what I feel like when I wake up,” Concepcion says. Beyond the ravishing couture gowns and bespoke jewelry she wore to the le Bal des Débutantes, she reveals how dressing up is actually an adventure for her. “Some days you can see me dressing up in something very feminine and chic and on other days probably something edgy, boho, or casual.” Even in the pandemic, she keeps looking out for new brands to shop from like ones from Australia and Spain, and of course, local ones.

As for jewelry, she says she has an affinity for pendants, and her staples come from her mom, Marissa Orosa-Concepcion. The similar goes with charm bracelets. “It’s something that’s timeless, fashionable, and holds a lot of memories,” she muses. So, even in Zoom, it is also good to wear a piece of jewelry to elevate one’s look. “Classic pearl earrings, gold hoops, diamond stud earrings, or tropical dangling earrings like the Montsera mother of pearl, I feel [these have] always helped to complete my look.”

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Zoom fashion

Now with remote work in place for many companies, Concepcion views dressing up for online meetings as an essential. “I always have this saying which I learned from my mom that ‘it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed,’” she says. Thus, she recommends preparing at least 30 minutes or one hour prior to the meeting to freshen up and select suitable clothes. She suggests putting on your favorite playlist while doing so to get yourself in the mood.

Concepcion admits that she has been donning sportswear while working from home. She favors a mix of local and international brands, from Lululeman and Alo to Our Recess and Easy Active. “Dressing up helps with your confidence, but that shouldn’t take away the feeling of being comfortable, too,” she says. “It’s a balance between being comfortable and also being stylish.”

Just don’t overdo the former as it may put you in a lethargic state. “Even though it’s a meeting just through a screen, there are people behind those screens,” Concepcion says. “It’s good to set that positive image by dressing appropriately for the occasion.” She suggests wearing a blazer and good-looking sweatpants or bottoms. Finish off with sandals as well, in case have to stand up during the meeting.

Apart from dressing up, she stresses the importance of good lighting—whether natural or warm indoor light, a distraction-free background, and a good camera angle centered on yourself. You may feel self-conscious in front of the camera. However, as long as you follow all these tips and focus on what you can contribute to the meeting, then you are all set.

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