The Death of Corporate Workwear?

Or just its evolution?


The Guardian newspaper this week ran a story claiming that two out of three Britons wears trainers to the office. This may or may not come as a surprise depending on where you work, with dress codes often varying between industries, workplace cultures, and just how hip your fifty-five-year-old boss thinks he is. 

But despite these differences, the past few years have seen a definite overall shift away from formal workwear. Sales of corporate attire have plummeted since the pandemic even for clothing (an industry hit hard across the board), and we’re increasingly likely to spot young professionals wearing jeans, sneakers, and skirts that fall- gasp- above the knee.  

Are our collective standards slipping? Or are we just embracing a more comfortable working style?
It’s assumed that Covid- the ultimate disruptor- is responsible at least in part for this trend. The virus forced many employees to spend much of this and last year working from home- and despite the odd Zoom call there’s little motivation to even change out of PJ pants in the privacy of a home office.But it seems that even for those of us back at the office, dressing down for work is a hard habit to get out of. Or perhaps it’s just a collective case of thinking “fuck it” in these uncertain times. After all, who cares what shoes you have on when we’re fighting a worldwide pandemic?

Whatever the case, fashion commentators appear pessimistic about the survival of traditional work attire. “The Death of the Classic Work Uniform” is how the Sydney Morning Herald dramatically put it. So if we are to abandon the staple black skirt, blouse, and blazer combo (and its derivatives), what do we wear to avoid feeling like slob city in front of our colleagues? 


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Firstly, pay attention to outfit’s silhouette. It goes without saying that anything you wear to work must be clean, ironed, and well fitting, but some seriously sharp tailoring will kick your look into boss mode. Think straight-leg pants teamed with a fitted, cropped blazer, or bootleg jeans with a classic turtleneck. 

Secondly, don’t shy away from prints and colour. We often make the mistake of thinking that dark and neutral shades are more formal when in fact bright hues and bold patterns can be just as dressy. Curating an outfit featuring colour blocking or graphic prints also shows that you’ve put effort into your appearance, which is the just the impression you want in the corporate world. 


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Finally, invest in a few good-quality classics to pair with less-formal items. A classic trench coat and heeled ankle boots for example will seriously elevate that summer dress, and a woollen blazer (consider a fun pastel shade) effortlessly dresses up a slip skirt and t-shirt combo. The addition of quality garments to your work wardrobe will once again show that you take pride in yourself and your appearance; not to mention give you an instant confidence boost.
And if nothing else? Give the PJ pants a rest. 


Next Up, Classic Hollywood: The Ultimate 2021 Style Trend