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Flip-flops and stretchy pants: Workers look different as they wander back into the office

Jesse Bunch, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Fashion Daily News

For customers who want new pants but still desire at-home comfort, she’s careful to stock a line that stretch at the waist. “They pull on, and they’re very comfortable,” McManus said.

At this point last year, her sales were down 54%. McManus said May 2021 was her first normal sales month since the pandemic began, driven by vaccinated Pittsburghers emerging from lockdown and a loyal clientele.

At Larrimor's, a high-end clothing company Downtown, customers are back to buying — but also altering.

“Right now, there are people who are coming back to their office, whether it’s a few days a week or every day, and they are really looking to refresh their wardrobe,” said co-owner Lisa Slesinger. “So for some of them, that means altering goods they already have because they’ve lost COVID weight or they’ve gained COVID weight.”

During the pandemic, Larrimor’s sold lots of stretchy fabric — “French terry or fleece, cashmere, whatever people wanted,” she added.


Post-pandemic, Slesinger says her customers are looking for attire that’s adaptable. For men, this means sport coats that work for the office, but can be worn with jeans for a transition to a long-awaited night on the town.

The return of formal events has customers reconsidering their all-sweats wardrobe. Fitted dresses for women, matching suits for groomsmen. ‘“People knew this year that they’d finally get to have their big wedding,” Slesinger said.

Meanwhile, since Freed returned to the office with other senior employees, he’s used the extra space to set up a DIY gym.

“I just kind of wear sneakers and go back and work out. I never did that before,” he said. “I myself have changed quite a bit as well — I don’t want to go back either. I think we’re all kind of in the same mindset — if this is the new norm, then we should go with it instead of trying to force people back to the way it was before.”

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