Friday, May 24, 2024

‘Gross outfits for work’: why Chinese gen-Zers are wearing pyjamas to the office

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Name: Gross outfits for work.

Age: This is a trend, so new.

And what does it mean? It means informal, casual, cosy, some might say sloppy clothes. Nightwear even – pyjamas, slippers, that sort of thing.

In the office? That’s taking dress-down Fridays to a whole new level. It’s dress down every days!

Where? China. And Chinese social media. On Douyin (Chinese TikTok), “Kendou S” posted a video showing off her work outfit: slippers, PJ bottoms and a brown sweater dress, set off with a pair of holey woollen gloves.

I’m watching it now – there’s also a balaclava! Yeah, she probably doesn’t want to get the sack. She says her boss told her the clothes she wears to work are “gross” and that she needs to smarten up “to mind the image of the company”.

Don’t tell me, it’s gone viral? Yup – 736,000 likes and 1.4m shares. The hashtag “gross outfits for work” spread across Weibo (China’s version of X), Xiaohongshu (similar to Instagram) and other platforms. Thousands of young workers are defying tradition by showing that, for them, work attire now means sweatpants, hoodies and, yes, sleepwear.

It’s a revolution! In its own small way, sure.

And is it in any way related to the socioeconomic situation in the country as a whole? Good question. You know about the “lying flat” movement of course …

AKA “Tangping” (as previously featured in pass notes), which eschews an ambitious work ethic in favour of a simpler, easy-going life? Yes, that. As growth slows, opportunities are fewer, and young people are beginning to take things a bit easier, even those with jobs.

Could it also have something to do with the pandemic? Well that has certainly been happening elsewhere. A recent report in the US found that people are dressing more comfortably and more individually when at work.

Hardly surprising, after all the remote and hybrid working. Exactly – the line between home and work has become a little blurred.

Pyjamas though, is that not stepping over the line? Well, a survey in November found a third of British employees admitted to wearing PJs when working from home. And we’ve always done the school run without getting dressed, even if the schools might not be so keen. Surely the office is the next logical step …

Do say: “I’ve got a meeting today, I’ll wear my best silk PJs.”

Don’t say: “Oh, it’s on Zoom? Just the top then …”

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