Over the past year and a half, I’ve bought over four pairs of sweats. Blazers? Zero. Dress pants? Forget it. Like most people working from ersatz home offices, I’ve really leaned into 24/7 comfort when it comes to clothes. There were a few dressier, made-for-Zoom purchases — patterned blouses and office-y tops with statement collars that would look cute on video calls — but the bulk of my online orders have consisted of sweatpants, rompers, and T-shirts. In fact, I don’t think I’ve bought a pair of pants without stretch since 2019.
But now, as offices begin to re-open across Canada, and in-person events and meetings are a thing again (so long as Delta doesn’t get in the way) we might need to start thinking about workwear for the first time since March 2020. Yes, even if your job hasn’t announced a return-to-office timeline, or is planning to follow a remote-first or hybrid model, you may want to at least start thinking about what you may want to wear to work again someday soon.
Of course, every workplace has its own company culture and (usually unspoken) dress code. And while it’s unlikely that we’ll see a return to traditional suits and five-inch stilettos outside of so-called white-shoe firms, it’s also fair to say that the popular WFH uniform of cute sweats and boxer-style shorts may require some creative adaptation for the post-pandemic office, even if you’re only expecting to be back in-office part-time this fall.
Luckily, most trend forecasters and fashion insiders are predicting gradual, incremental changes when it comes to officewear. Not everyone is quite ready to leave behind the comfort and ease of our WFH wardrobes, and many of us will be fine shopping for relaxed, more versatile versions of workwear staples like blazers and button-up blouses. This could mean, for example, swapping out a pre-pandemic merino wool blazer for a linen chore coat or embroidered cardigan.
But then what to do with the seven-days-a-week sweat sets we spent money on last year? Do we just toss those back in the closet, and go out to buy more stuff?
Just like hybrid is the buzzword when it comes to returning to the office, it’s also how you should probably approach your wardrobe going forward. Instead of having one set of ‘work clothes’ and another set of clothes for off-duty hours, it will be all about mixing-and-matching to fit the occasion, and your mood, to reflect the fluidity of our new working arrangements
Ultimately, the ideal wardrobe for our new hybrid offices is all about clothes for movement and comfort — and if you never want to see a sheath dress or pencil skirt again, that’s okay too. Who’s to say that you can’t layer slip dresses over sweatshirts or pair a cashmere coat with track pants? Go ahead and get creative: tuck your oversized hiking pants into ankle boots; wear cozy, colourful knit tops with blazers; and retire painful heels forever (the extra-long, slouchy pantsuit look is very in these days anyways).
Ready to put together some new back-to-office looks? Here are ten work-from-anywhere fashion picks to help you get a head start on fall fashion, on your own terms.
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