The days of formal fashion and workwear have been numbered for a while – and that was before the pandemic started. Indeed, over the last couple of decades, the growth of the internet, freelancing, remote working and communication technology has slowly changed the way we dress for work. For many, for the better, we might add.

“And yet”, as The Guardian writes. “our iconography of workwear for women remains rooted in the 80s and 90s. It is Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.It is stuck in the era when Tina Brown first ruled New York and Ally McBeal was an up-and-coming Boston lawyer…none of which is appropriate any more”. 

For men, too, when calling to mind suave, formal workwear, we seem to automatically think of Madmen, where suits seem to symbolise different levels of power and status. 

However, since the pandemic took hold and working-from-home became the norm, it really does look like our idea of workwear is set to change forever. Coronavirus has not only changed the way we work, but it’s set to change what we wear to work, too. Loungewear, quarantine style, comfort dressing…whatever you want to call it – the rise of lockdown leisurewear is a fashion force that is here to stay.

A revolution is afoot, and lockdown has helped people realise something we suspected all along; you can dress comfortably and still be productive and dedicated. Seeing our colleagues in cosy jumpers, dressed down and with no makeup on has been a real game changer. 

Should a successful vaccine rollout and falling case numbers mean you might be heading back to the office sometime later this year, then it’s best to be prepared for a change in stylistic demands. We’re here to help with that; here are 5 suggestions on what to wear back to the office. 

COMFORT IS QUEEN 

While some people are declaring a desire to get back into fitted, formal clothes as soon as possible, believing the novelty has worn off lockdown loungewear, we simply don’t agree. Infact, we’ve been arguing for a while that formal wear is actually a hindrance when it comes to working.

The nation has been embracing wearing functional fashion and being comfortable for nearly a year now. As such, we can assume that a more relaxed dress code to work is going to be acceptable when we go back to the office. Yes, you can expect to hold on to some elements of your WFH-centric wardrobe when you return to work. 

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you should wear your loungewear to a corporate event. However, you can incorporate your new casual wardrobe into your workwear – the secret is all in the styling. Consider pairing your very best sweatpants with a soft cotton shirt to smarten them up and voila – your jogging bottoms are now office appropriate. You can even pair your joggers with heels for a casual yet sassy look. 

IT’S ALL ABOUT COLOUR

In the past year, life seems to have been put on mute. To reclaim some control and add a shot of vibrancy back into your everyday, it’s time to forget those relatively conservative office colours in the traditional sphere of grey, burgundy and blue. Instead, bright colours are your buddies in 2021, bringing some much needed fun to your workwear wardrobe. 

If you’re new to wearing bright colours, use colourful accessories as a jumping point before going all in. Accessories can bring a dash of colour and flash of light – and life – to your outfits without you having to invest in a whole new collection.  

If you’re going to jump in head-to-toe in full outfits of colour, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, while you’re of course free to mix and match colours as you want, try not to wear more than four colours at once – just like wearing too many patterns, this can get jarring on the eye. 

Secondly, it’s a good idea to match your colours to the season  – think pastels for summer and unique, exciting shades of blue in winter. And last but not least – remember that there aren’t really any rules when it comes to colour mixing, just suggestions. The most important thing is to wear colours that make you happy. 

BEST BAG BUDDIES

We know that we just said bright colours are your buddies, but a bag is going to be your BFF when you return to the office. During lockdown, we’ve relied on our pockets for daily walks and we looked to canvas tote bags for our supermarket shopping. In the process, our handbags have been relegated to the back of our closets, gathering dust and wondering if they’ll ever see light again (aren’t we all?).

When we finally do emerge from whatever lockdown limbo we’re in, our handbags are going to be more essential than ever. New must-carry items like hand sanitisers, facemasks, disinfectant wipes, and isopropyl wipes for phones need to be easily accessible. Enter our long lost friend – the handbag. 

Seeing as they are going to be an essential item, have fun with it; handbags can look great, and complete your work outfit in a succinct, stylish way. 

BE YOURSELF 

We’ve been living in our loungewear for so many months now, and many of us have truly embraced that comfortable, casual feeling. However, there are those of us who love to dress formally, and that’s fine, too. 

To quote Scott Cawood, the CEO of WorldatWork, via the The Atlantic; “It’s no secret that there’s a rising premium on being yourself, being an individual, bringing your full self to work, broader expression of who you are.” We couldn’t agree more.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY 

Long gone are the days when you had to dress a certain, prescriptive way in the workplace, and personally, we’re delighted to see the back of those strict, stringent dress codes. It feels like the pandemic has only quickened this change, with focus now falling on your output and effort, not your stylistic choices.

In the future, we expect the entire dress code to be summed up in five simple words: ‘’Dress appropriately for the occasion’’. Enough said.

If you don’t see yourself ever returning to the office, and you’re planning to work from home permanently, then check out these tips on how to prepare for the transition.

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