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What To Wear Back To The Office?

So, you heard from your HR Department, and you’re headed back into the office. Now, what? You’re feeling all kinds of emotions. Most of us haven’t set foot in an office in over a year! Maybe you feel as if you’re a kid again, with the first day of school jitters? And it’s time to go back-to-work shopping instead of back-to-school shopping.

Let’s face it, the work outfits we wore in March 2020 may now feel outdated and uncomfortable. Times have changed and after a year of loungewear, leggings, and slippers, we're left feeling confused as to what to wear back to the office. We refuse to go back to our stuffy old work wardrobes, but we just don’t know what to wear to replace them.

Our work situations all differ, but one common theme is that we can’t wear PJs to the office. So, what should we wear? All of this uncertainty makes getting dressed for work harder and raises the level of anxiety that comes with that age old question of “what am I going to wear today?”

The Wall Street Journal even touched upon this topic, saying that more than 2/3 of American consumers plan to change their work wardrobe from pre-pandemic styles when they return to the office, shifting toward more comfortable dressing. But what does that comfortable work outfit look like for you? We're seeing a glimpse of some alternative options to traditional work wear in the form of high-tech stretch fabrics and draw string waist bands on workwear, allowing for more comfortable fabrics and silhouettes that still look just as professional.

If you’re unclear as to what to wear back to the office, my advice is to start by consulting your company dress code, but don't be surprised to find that employers are also confused! Some companies that are embracing a hybrid work model are reconsidering what professional work wear is. They're finding it difficult to strike a balance between loosening dress codes and maintaining a level of professionalism among employees. Employers know that clients and colleagues will judge your level of trustworthiness based upon your appearance. Like it or not, what you wear to the office matters.

So, what does a hybrid work dress code look like?

I put together a list together of 10 universal tips to dressing for success when you head back to the workplace. (Keep these tips in mind when you’re going back-to-work shopping and getting dressed for the office):

  1. Check your company dress policy and edit your work clothes accordingly.

  2. Invest in quality wardrobe basics that can be worn all year round and dressed up or down for all occasions.

  3. When in doubt, keep it simple (stand out for your performance at work, not your wardrobe).

  4. Keep hemlines low (at the knee) and necklines high (so they are not too revealing) to ensure they’re work appropriate.

  5. Make sure all garments are wrinkle-free (cleanliness is always in style).

  6. Stick to wardrobe basics in neutral colors, such as grey, navy, black, white, or tan, then accent your outfits with pops of color and prints to add more personality to your look.

  7. Don't forget to mix things up with accessories (belts, scarves or light jewelry, and classic shoes.)

  8. Make sure all clothes fit properly and update your wardrobe if you’ve changed sizes (this usually is a change of 8-10 lbs.)

  9. Try monochromatic dressing (same color tone from head to toe) it’s an easy way to look elegant and stylish for work.

  10. Remember, less is more: Build a well curated capsule wardrobe of basics that you can feel confident in. The truth is, the less you own, the more creative you’ll be with the pieces that you love and that will make you feel confident.

Above all remember, you are not alone, many of us are feeling the same level of anxiety when getting dressed for the office in this new hybrid work world. Don't forget that I'm here to help you build a capsule wardrobe you can feel confident in when you return to work!

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