Many, many people of my acquaintance are looking toward a late-summer-early-fall return to office life. Some people are returning for half-days, or for a shortened workweek, but the message is pretty clear: employers are expecting to see us in person again. At the same time, lots of people are loathe to completely give up the total comfort of wearing nice T-shirt and comfy sweats as they Zoom from home. Over and over, I have been asked, “How will I transition back to work clothes?” Sure, there are a few people who can’t wait to don their best skirt suits or get back into their excellent tie collection, but most office workers are wondering how to ease back into the office. Going “back to work” (even though we have all been working) is causing wardrobe stress for some people, both men and women. No one wants a shock to their system, and right now it feels like commuting, being with an office full of people and wearing constrictive dress clothing would be just that. Let’s talk about how you can transition back into the office, wardrobe wise. You have lots of options to help you stay comfortable in body and mind as you readjust to office life!
Knits in many forms were already office-appropriate, and now with the general relaxation of formality happening literally everywhere, knits of all kinds will likely be seen in every office. If your office was already business casual, ponté pants, joggers and every type of knit top are good wardrobe choices to help you ease back into the office in comfort and style. If your office was more formal, as many legal and financial offices still were, you can definitely wear knit jersey dresses, polished knit pants, or even one of the washable knit blazers we are now seeing more and more of. Washable knit blazers provide the look of a blazer with the comfort and practicality of knitwear. It’s a relaxed take on formal business attire that could be the bridge back into workwear you need, as well as the indicator your company needs to see that the desire for comfort is not going away.
The trend for maximizing comfort has hit retailers by now, and you will see a boom in the availability of both full and partial elastic waists. Personally, I associate elastic waists with the less-than-desirable clothing that was available to a chubby kid in the early 80s and thought I would never go back, but it turns out, elastic waists really are comfy!
Whether you need to accommodate a few extra pounds from the time you spent nesting or you just want to avoid pinch points solely for your personal comfort, elastic waists are where it’s at! Best of all, elastic waists don’t really show anymore. A great deal of both women’s and men’s casual shirts are designed to be worn with the shirt tail out these days, so the waist of your pants or skirt is a mystery to the casual observer. Get comfy! We won’t tell! Anything to help you ease back into the office with less stress is worth it.
Ladies, this is one area where our clothing options, which are occasionally unfair (pockets, anyone?!) serve us well. While wearing a dress for comfort may seem counterintuitive to some of you, we’re specifically talking about knitwear dresses. Knit dresses can exude an air of all-business, provide maximum va-va-voom, give off a slouchy boho vibe. . . the possibilities are endless!
Knit dresses are literally all about design and styling—the same fabric can create a dozen different looks, and all of them will be comfortable. Whether you choose a sheath dress, a wrap dress, a fit-and-flare dress or a shirt dress, knit dresses will always provide comfort and ease of movement. Knitwear, when it fits, generally does away with pinch points or binding of any kind. You can throw a blazer over a knit dress in even the most conservative office and look thoroughly appropriate; only you will know that your dress is as comfy as a nightgown.
If your company dress code previously required you to wear shoes you found uncomfortable, it will surely be doubly so now. Look for trending styles of dressy-casual shoes, which are essentially streamlined sneakers featuring sophisticated design, or ladies may eschew pumps in favor of loafers or smoking slippers. If you have to appear before a judge or close a major deal and want that little something extra for your outfit, perhaps try a kitten, wedge or block heel rather than the stilettos that have been de rigueur for so long.They are your feet, and no one should make you hurt them for appearances’ sake. If suffering for beauty is your thing, go ahead—you do you! But if it’s not, don’t.
Now, business suits and pumps are no reason to stage major protests, but make sure your company, specifically the Human Resources department, knows that you want and expect your employers to move with the times. If there are stringent dress requirements that are behind the times to the point that they cause discomfort, speak up! We can help you choose pieces that will smooth your transition back into the office, but only you and your colleagues can make long-term adjustments to ensure that your comfortable office attire gains the traction and acceptance you want moving forward. Ease back into the office with such style that your employer sees the value in optimizing the comfort of the workforce, and is happy to make enduring changes to the office dress code.
Most people will have to return to the office sooner or later, even if it’s part time or only on designated days. There will surely be an adjustment period simply in going back to sharing space with others, being in a noisy atmosphere, or having to dine out more often. If you can ease back into the office sartorially speaking, maintaining your bodily comfort, you will have a great deal more mental and emotional energy to dedicate to your work, which is what really matters. Surely your job means something to you if you are returning to the office, so let us help you make your return joyful and perhaps even a bit triumphant by taking away the wardrobe worries of going “back to work!”