Casual outfits and overall comfort became a focus in the past year and a half as pyjamas, loungewear, and athleisure grew in popularity. Nobody saw the need to sacrifice comfort when every hour of the day was mostly spent at home. The same goes for those who’ve missed taking their outfits seriously. Laying out button-downs and suit jackets only to face a laptop screen for a few hours isn’t exactly exciting or motivating.
However, the country’s growing vaccination rates have signalled an approaching return to the office, but along with this comes the issue of what office fashion will look like post-pandemic. On one hand, it could mean the return of dress shirts, blazers, and hosiery, all considered workplace fashion norms before the lockdowns. On the other hand, dress codes may begin to allow for the casual get-ups that defined work-from-home attires for the past several months.
If you’re curious about what office fashion may look like in the near future, read on.
Does the Office Wardrobe Still Matter Post-pandemic?
The pandemic forced a drastic shift in fashion due to the quarantines preventing everyone from going out at all. The social aspect of clothing was largely diminished as people no longer dressed with the public eye in mind. Being able to work from home has led many to question the norms of pre-pandemic work life. This, of course, includes the daily effort of dressing to impress every morning for work, when the past year allowed many to grab a decent shirt and stay in sweatpants for five days a week.
While this has been the case for a lot of working professionals, just as many people have felt robbed of the opportunity to take their fashion seriously. The return to the office serves as one of the best post-pandemic opportunities to revive some of their best outfits, many of which likely collected dust in the past year.
This two-sided debate has made the issue of workwear even more pressing as more and more cities around the world are reopening onsite operations. The future of the office wardrobe will determine a tangible shift away from life in the pandemic, and it’s not up to dress codes alone to decide the direction of office fashion from this point onward.
That said, opinions on office wardrobes will mostly depend on how companies plan to implement dress codes once vaccination numbers have permitted a return to the office. Some companies plan to bring back the suited attires from pre-pandemic life, particularly those in industries that demand a formal appearance. Other companies plan to be laxer with a compromise between casual and office outfits, embracing work-from-home fashion after more than a year of webinars and virtual conferences.
What Pieces Will Be at the Center of Post-pandemic Office Wear?
In this respect, fashion brands have taken it upon themselves to combine comfort and formality to address the needs of both sides, coming up with a new style sometimes coined as business comfort. While the scene has not been fully set for this new era of fashion, brands have been zeroing in on specific pieces in anticipation of the post-pandemic wardrobe. Here are some of the developments you can expect in the next year or so:
Suits and Blazers
The broad and straight-lined silhouettes of pre-pandemic formalwear have yet to be out of style in office fashion. It can’t be helped when suits and blazers remain the staple of power dressing to command the room in any situation.
The issue is that these outfits are often designed to be hard and stiff to maintain the characteristic silhouette, which makes them feel rather uncomfortable and restricting. To fix this, brands have begun to redesign these pieces. Rather than the tailor-fit suits of the past, blazers are now being made looser and with softer, more elastic fabrics.
The athleisure trend boomed during the pandemic because it was a style that was appropriate for almost any daily activity. Casual activewear was often comfortable enough to be worn at home and even to bed. At the same time, they were designed to look more than decent enough for quick trips outside. This made them perfect for going for a jog, running errands, or even stepping out for a meal.
An added benefit to athleisure is that it didn’t require tops or bottoms to come in specific coordinated sets. Tops or bottoms could be mixed and matched, and they could even be paired with non-activewear pieces to best fit the person’s lifestyle. It only made sense for brands to build on the trend to fill the gap of work attire once people frequent the office again.
Sweatpants have turned out to be among the most popular garments in the past year due to their overall comfort and the fact that working from home has only necessitated properly dressing the upper body. In this regard, brands have sought to integrate the benefits of casual bottoms into denim and trousers that are actually viable for the workplace.
Like the changes in blazers, trousers will have looser fits, likely incorporating more stretchy materials and veering away from the look and feel of tight, skinny jeans. Straight cuts and flare jeans may also grow in popularity once again as more companies opt for casual dress codes in the future.
How Do You Find Your Office Style after Working from Home for More than a Year?
With the fashion public still divided on which way to go in post-pandemic workwear, you may find yourself torn between casual or formal office attires. That said, fashion is all about individuality and expression, which means that the right style always depends on your personal needs and preferences. Having said this, here are some tips for building your post-pandemic wardrobe for the office:
Know Your Limits
Unfortunately, some circumstances are simply out of your control, so it’s good to know what clothes you can’t wear before coming up with any outfits. Usually, these limits are set by your company’s dress code and the image demanded of your profession.
A lot of companies are likely not going to give up corporate formalwear, and this may limit your options mostly to office fashion from before the pandemic. If this is the case for your company, you can still mix things up by trying bolder colour schemes. You can also customize your silhouette to be more assertive or lax, depending on your preference.
If your company has embraced the more casual work environment, you may want to hold off on pieces that are too formal, which means setting aside your blazers and cocktail dresses for fancier events or meetings. Instead, you can pair any of your shirts and tees with patterned pants, loose-fit trousers, or flared bottoms, along with matching loafers or heels.
Comfort or Design
Have you gotten used to caring little about your daily get-ups, or have you been planning your return-to-work fashion debut for a while now? In either case, what’s most important is that you do what’s best for yourself.
If you don’t want to give up on comfort, you can opt for looser garments made out of breathable fabrics when picking out pieces for work. You can mix and match these with softer blazers, denim, and loafers for an overall approachable and casual feel.
Do you prioritize looking good above all else? If so, you can take out the best of your designer pieces and accessories, from dress shirts and silk skirts to heels and jewellery. You can even go for bold, bright colours and eye-catching patterns to show the office that you mean business.
Be Creative and Courageous
In the past, perhaps you came up with outfits by matching tops, bottoms, and accessories that all came in the same colour. Why not try being a bit more creative when you go back to working on-site? Try matching pieces with contrasting hues for a louder appearance, or go monochromatic with black, grey, and white pieces if you’ve grown used to your more colourful attires. The point is not to be afraid of diverting from the usual styles that you may have set yourself on prior to the pandemic.
Given the tips above, note that you don’t have to go out of your way to carry out a complete fashion overhaul for your return to the office. It doesn’t matter if most of your clothes right now were bought before the pandemic, nor should you feel at risk of being too out of style with what’s available to you. Instead, it’s much better to embrace the outfits available to you while revamping your look with some creativity.
Regardless of what the post-pandemic office wardrobe will look like, what you should prioritize are clothes that make you look and feel good without breaking your company’s dress code. After all, you’re best poised for work when you’re most confident in how you look.