Back to workwear: What to wear when returning to the office
September is often heralded as a month of new beginnings, owing largely to the start of the new academic year. But this year, it also marks a return to work for many former office-based employees, which inevitably raises the all-important question – what on earth do I wear to the office?!
Eighteen-months of elasticated waistbands, loungewear and top-dressing while working from home has, unsurprisingly, transformed our attitudes towards workwear. So much so, Marks & Spencer recently decided to drop men’s suits from more than half of its 254 stores as a result of the post-pandemic preference for more casual dressing.
So, how do we navigate this new and evolving fashion landscape as we go back to work?
Challenging the “professional” image
A recent LinkedIn pulse survey revealed that “dressing for work” was a primary concern for millennials returning to the office – perhaps plagued by the dilemma of balancing the legacy of what is deemed “professional” with a newfound focus on personal wellbeing.
Of the many lessons learned from the pandemic, an appreciation for comfort, time and wellbeing have infiltrated every aspect of our lives, encouraging greater emphasis on the things that really matter. Therefore, perhaps now is the time to question the expectation for employees to continue to be garrotted by the white collar, cinched into knee-knocking pencil skirts or totter perilously on teetering heels for the sake of looking “professional”.
Comfort is king
Comfort is king for the hybrid workwear wardrobe. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean continuing to don the leggings and sweats of remote working’s slob chic aesthetic. Rather think classic office power pairings – the trouser suit, the skirt and shirt – but with a relaxed fit or in an oversized silhouette, and crafted from sumptuous fabrics, such as soft knits, breathable cottons and fluid lyocell. Delicious.
Colour has also infiltrated the work wardrobe. Taking inspiration from pandemic revenge dressing, playful prints and eye-popping pigments are a must for the “new year, new me” back to work look and for rallying against a return to the “old normal” of the black/grey/navy (snore) corporate dress code.
As an additional comment on comfort, it is worth noting the beauty of the work capsule wardrobe – that is, a few key pieces that can be mixed-and-matched seamlessly. Many people find great comfort in routine; therefore, a work uniform can not only provide consistency and stability but re-establish work-life boundaries previously blurred by the pandemic.
Don’t forget footwear
In the Q2 2021 Lyst Index, which ranks the latest trends, brands and products by shopper behaviour, there wasn’t a heel in sight. Rubber-soled sandals and trainers are among the top 10 most popular products for men and women. Ideal footwear to accommodate commuters’ new preference to walk or cycle to work rather than take public transport.
Rental fashion has been named 2021’s biggest fashion trend. This circular rental model is not just for weddings and red-carpet events but can be translated to workwear wardrobes – attire for a boardroom pitch, corporate event or company celebration, for example. Plus, it is a key driver in overcoming the environmental impact of fast fashion and wear-once consumption that contributes to the estimated £140m worth of clothing sent to UK landfill each year.
We’re excited to be returning to the physical workplace, switching our sweats for palazzo pants, but leaving the suit jacket and heels behind with the office of old. If you have your sights set on the future workspace, our team of trendsetters and trailblazers can help you find your ideal office solution for you and your people. Simply, call us on 020 3595 3121 or email email@example.com to get started.