It’s almost time to move from the living room to the boardroom, improve yourself, change the makeshift table into an office, and dress for real interactions with coworkers. All of this talk about returning to work naturally gets your nerves on the first day and worries about what to wear.
No more business upstairs, comfort downstairs; now it’s the business from head to toe. So does this mean that we will have to give up comfort altogether? On the contrary, the pandemic brought a simple way of dressing that didn’t involve restrictive belts and a considerably shorter morning routine. As we prepare for the return to work, it’s all about taking this simple approach to dressing for the real world. The dressing of the room remains integral, but it is a question of punctuating these neat and professional rooms with a certain level of comfort.
“We were heading in that direction before the pandemic, but working from home has accelerated the migration to a more casual dress code for most businesses,” says stylist Isabel Gleeson. “Management should be able to trust its employees to dress for the day ahead. “
New terms to describe this era of workplace clothing are emerging, such as “business comfort”, “power casual” and “work-leisure”, which prove that versatility and comfort are essential for employees.
Clothes that you initially wouldn’t have envisioned nine to five now appear to be suitable for the office. Slouchy replaces structured, with dominant relaxed and loose styles. Think tailored joggers, oversized blazers, flowy dresses and sneakers that can be paired with your existing workwear to go from virtual to face-to-face.
There have been plenty of examples of how this can play out on the catwalks, with designers such as Victoria Beckham, Jil Sander, Stella McCartney and Rejina Pyo showcasing new sets ready for the office.
Personal shopper Orla Sheridan says: “Traditional workwear brands like Hugo Boss, Theory, Vince are moving away from more structured combinations to look for chic, comfortable, fashionable and sophisticated pieces.
On Main Street, brands are adapting their collections in response to the demand for workwear focused on comfort. “Brands like Cos, Arket, Kooples, Maje & Sandro are ideal for creating elegant and daring work looks,” says Sheridan. Elsewhere, Gleeson calls upon Kitri, Ghost and Sezane as some of the brands epitomizing the new era of workwear.
Returning to work is also an opportunity to recharge your batteries, to get a makeover and to give more personality to your work clothes. “I think that office work clothes will now allow women to put more of their personal style into their outfits; they won’t also be forced to adhere to a dress code and overthink what’s appropriate, ”says Gleeson.
Sheridan agrees, saying, “I think [the pandemic] tore up the manual of how we all thought we should dress at work. Fashion in the workplace used to be considered a frivolous business, but now we can use it to our advantage, using it as a form of self-expression.
For business but also pleasure, the lines, it seems, will be blurry as to what counts as work clothes and what counts as off-duty, which Gleeson thinks is a good thing. “This means we can buy less clothes because our weekend clothes will also work on work days, promoting a lasting message about not buying unnecessary pieces for our wardrobes.
“You can dress the same rooms outside of working hours. “