Business Casual as Usual

Graphic by Kapp Singer

Marisol Lariviere, Business Casual as Usual, 2021, consisting of a found and altered two-piece suit, iron-on glitter letters, flannel tank top, and accessorized with handmade earrings and masks (courtesy of the artists’ pandemic hobbies).
I couldn’t tell you what it means or where you wear it. I think that you know it when you see it, or at least you know what it isn’t. In Business Casual as Usual, I joke about what is left unseen by our Zoom windows, and wonder about work life after COVID-19. Inspired by statement sweatsuits of the aughts, I’ve created my own version of a business casual outfit: a sharp-shouldered jacket, trousers that turn into pajama pants, pressed-pansy earrings, and a puppy-dog mask. A mix of office-appropriate and childlike leisure attire points to the ridiculousness of uncomfortable dress-codes, as well as our attempt to continue business as usual while sheltering in place. Inherent in the DNA of work attire are gendered understandings of the workplace: this is reinscribed into an outfit by the increasing employment and pay gender disparities throughout the pandemic. Despite the early and emphatic declarations that we are all in the pandemic together, the COVID-19 has not affected all equally. Business Casual as Usual utilizes the glitzy aesthetics of white feminist artwork from the early 2010s to juxtapose the supposed empowerment of girlbosses in corporate settings with espoused values of equity. When business continues as usual, what harms are allowed to continue?

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