Back To Work: Redefining The Modern Office Wardrobe
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of working from home was familiar only to few. With the large majority of the office-based workforce commuting to and from a physical workspace, at least for most of their workweek, their pandemic-induced adjustment to the modern WFH lifestyle certainly took some getting used to.
Almost two years and several fiscal quarters on, many of those previously office-based professionals are starting to return to their physical workspaces, in some regular capacity at least.
However, having quickly acclimatized to the comforts of working in one’s pyjamas, one of the biggest obstacles for this year’s returning workforce’s will be what they wear when returning to work alongside their colleagues in person once again.
So, if you’ve been struggling to remember what a passable office outfit looks like, or struggling to fit back into your previous go-to’s, this guide is here to help you start afresh. Ahead of your upcoming mission to redefine modern office attire, keep these tips close at hand.
Even pre-2020, most professionals working in offices were already desperate for alternatives to the stuffy woollen suit. Stiff, boxy, and downright uncomfortable, those cheap high street off-the-rack suits were more than starting to expose their many impracticalities.
In contrast, a well-made, thoughtfully crafted suit will solve all of those comfort conundrums. However, even the most globally respected tailors have begun to embrace their clients’ growing desire to further blend formality and comfort, and are including more technical fabrics and relaxed structures into their garments.
For example, we’re seeing more lightweight jackets with less interior canvassing, beautiful wools elegantly blended with stretchier synthetic fabrics, and waistbands with a little more ‘give’ in them than traditional.
As many modern professionals are either currently or imminently returning to their more formal office dress codes, the opportunity for more high-tech tailoring to showcase its value has never been more potent. Just because you’re wearing a suit doesn’t mean it needs to be uncomfortable — precisely the idea behind high-tech tailoring.
See exactly what we mean by high-tech tailoring by looking through some of our favourite examples below.
Introducing More Knitwear
For years the thought of wearing a suit with anything other than a shirt underneath was more than frowned upon in office environments. Today, most people have realized there’s almost nothing as suave as a perfectly fitting rollneck under a jacket, even on the most formal of occasions.
As we head back to our offices once again, we believe dress codes deserve more of this modern thinking, and certainly more knitwear. Cashmere crewnecks under heavier wool suits in the colder months provide a warmth like no other, whereas smart knitted polos under lightweight linen blazers provide wearers with that continental sense of cool that is coveted by men everywhere.
If your office doesn’t require you to wear a suit or jacket every day, even better. Nothing balances the line between cozy and distinguished quite like a chunky cardigan, and nothing shows off all that work you’ve been doing in the gym all summer more than a knitted T-Shirt or polo.
Does talk of heavyweight wool and thick knitwear feel a bit premature? That’s because it’s still hot out — at least where we are. Learn more about what we’ll be wearing through summer’s twilight weeks by reading our recent post “Late Summer: What To Wear When It’s Still Warm Out” here.
When It’s Time To Smarten up
Realistically, the day-to-day demands of the modern office won’t always require you to fully button up. However, come an important meeting, a company-wide presentation, or a personal landmark career milestone, it’s always advisable to raise the bar in terms of what you’re wearing to the office.
When it’s time to tie a tie, make sure you do it with style. That means a crisp white shirt under a dark suit — preferably dark navy or charcoal grey — with smart polished shoes and the tightest four-in-hand knot you can still get a good tie dimple out of. Accent it with a gold tiebar and matching cufflinks and you’re in business, literally.
Plus, dressing up every once in a while keeps everyone on their toes. If you’ve got your coworkers and executives guessing as to why you look particularly polished today, it doesn’t hurt to let their minds wander a little bit. An interview elsewhere? A confidential meeting with the CEO? A hot date after work? All positives in our book.
Dressing up is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Make sure you’re able to fully indulge by sourcing the very best formal pieces and accessories.
Rules For Dressing Down
Casual Fridays have long been a celebrated office phenomenon. The chance to ‘dress down’ and show off your own expression of personal style among colleagues is generally always warmly welcomed.
However, it’s important to remember that the workplace is still the workplace and that your higher-ups will still take note of any over-the-top fashion choices even though that entirely defeats the point of the Casual Friday.
How would we recommend you run with the fun yet keep workplace reputations in check? Simply take things one notch down instead of three.
Does your office dress code require you to suit up Monday through Thursday? Try losing the jacket, opting for a pair of heavyweight chinos, and wearing a smart piece of knitwear or a more casual button-up shirt. Is ‘smart casual’ more the regular vibe? Swap out your trousers for a pair of mid-wash denim, toss on a flattering polo shirt with ribbed cuffs, and break out a crisp pair of white sneakers.