As you prepare to return to the office after working remotely for months, you might be feeling a range of emotions. On the one hand, there’s a sense that the return to normalcy will be great for your well-being. But from a different perspective, you might not exactly want to return to the world of corporate attire. Do you really need to retire all of those remarkably comfortable work-from-home outfits that essentially became your go-to uniform?
The truth is that it might be difficult to make the transition back to work-friendly attire, but this may also be an opportunity to refresh your wardrobe through a different lens. This could be the chance to incorporate more relaxed clothing options into the mix, taking your cue from the softer fabrics and more relaxed cuts that defined your choices over the past months. And, depending on where you work, management may well see things in the same light.
Things have changed dramatically, and there’s a growing understanding that comfort can breed greater productivity. So how to update your work clothes while still retaining your professional streak? Here are the go-to essentials you need as you return to the office.
Tunic tops—to the office? Once upon a time, it may have seemed taboo even to consider wearing something so undefined and casual to the workplace. But the new rules dictate something slightly different. Why sacrifice your comfort when you can wear something that’s entirely pulled together yet still feels as good as, say, your favorite T-shirt?
The tunic is one of those pieces that checks those boxes. Known for its airy silhouette and simple drape, it grazes the body instead of hugging it. Fabrics are light and cool, so they’re ideal for wearing on warmer days, yet also layer well beneath cardigans when it’s chillier outside. There are many different types of tunics, which is where you need to focus all of your attention when shopping for the office. Pay attention to factors that elevate the look of the shirt to something other than weekend-friendly, like a crisp collar and a buttoned front. Or look to a pin tucked style without a collar. These tops resemble blouses yet feel far more laid-back. You can wear them beneath a blazer, and no one will ever know it’s not the same posh piece you wore way back when.
The last time you wore a pair of dress pants, you probably didn’t realize you wouldn’t be wearing them again for quite a while. And if you’ve lived in nothing but yoga pants, leggings, and joggers for the last few months, you may not exactly be tearing through your closet, ready to slip into those wool trousers again. That’s understandable, given the inherent comfort of the styles you’ve grown to love so much. Who would want to give that up?
Thanks to the advent of trousers designed with a sporty twist, you no longer have to. Don’t be fooled by the “sporty” vibe. The idea here isn’t to replicate the pants you wear for your early morning workout but to provide you with the same feel. Sport knit styles are designed with soft knit materials that feel as good as the sweats you lived in at home. Look for details that enhance their comfort, like elastic waists, a touch of stretch, and wide-leg silhouettes.
Wearing jersey dresses to the workplace may have once seemed completely impractical. Aren’t those super comfortable styles just for vacation and going out with friends? Once again, the landscape has changed dramatically, making it easier than ever to pull off pieces that you once couldn’t have imagined wearing to the office.
The key here is to stick with styles that feel a touch more refined. Jersey dresses are available in all types of varieties: some have an inherently beachy vibe, while others are more practical to wear around the house. What you want for the workplace is something with a bit of structure. Look for a dress with a silhouette, whether it comes in the form of a natural waist, a collar, or a wrap accent. All of these elements add some definition to the piece, lending them a more workplace-appropriate quality. Unless your office allows it, steer clear of loud patterns. Opt for jersey shirt dresses or maxis in neutral colors instead. You can easily dress these up with a few key accessories to achieve a corporate-friendly look that doesn’t derail your comfort.
That is paramount where your work wardrobe is concerned. While you may have once sacrificed comfort in the name of style and structure, those old habits don’t apply anymore. Now, you can enjoy the best of all worlds, with polished attire that’s perfectly acceptable to wear to a board meeting, yet that offers the same level of comfort as the comfy sweats you adopted when working from home. In the end, it’s all about what helps you look and feel your very best.