The return to the office after summer is an opportunity to re-evaluate workwear staples and update desk-ready looks. However, this season, getting to grips with how to dress for work feels different. After months of working from home in loungewear and waist-up outfits, many of us are out of the habit of dressing for the 9-5. Plus, with hybrid routines and remote offices still very much in play, the requirements of contemporary workwear have shifted.
“The notion of ‘remote-to-office’ is a new way of thinking about dressing,” says Tibi’s Amy Smilovic. “To do it right, build and maintain a wardrobe that transitions from one to the other, without creating multiple closets in your home.” Now, more than ever, workwear wardrobes must consist of hard-working, versatile pieces that straddle dress codes: cafe-to-desk dresses, home-office-to-boardroom blouses, tailoring that takes you from Zoom call to lunch meeting and back again.
As for the new work bag? “Roomy totes, big enough for all of your paraphernalia, but with pockets and places to keep everything organised,” says Anya Hindmarch, whose new-season collection comprises three new multitasking styles which do just that.
But it’s not all functionality. Going back to the office provides a reason to dress up and rediscover well-loved pieces: “Shoes (which I love!) are back on the radar. I must admit, moving back into heels is definitely going to be a challenge, but one that I am happy to take up,” says Browns chair and Farfetch chief brand officer, Holli Rogers, who will also be relying on knitwear and tailoring from Chloé, Gucci and Prada, as well as updated staples from There Was One.
From new silhouettes (hello, wide-leg suit) to transforming accessories, these are the key pieces to add to your back-to-work wardrobe now.
The Dress: HOMESPUN KNIT
A cornerstone of our off-duty cold-weather wardrobe, knitted dresses have taken on a more sophisticated tone this season, meaning they can be worn to the office, too. Reach for homespun-inspired styles in stripes or with crafty details, as seen on the catwalks at Chloé and Salvatore Ferragamo. With all the comfort of loungewear, think of them as an elevated version of a tracksuit and team with flats for WHF days, switching to boots for the office.
The Suit: WIDE-LEG
A wide-leg trouser gives a fresh perspective on classic suiting for the new season and is the right style to incorporate into your workwear arsenal, to update office-ready shirts and blouses. Offering more comfort that traditional suiting, the beauty of a wide-cut leg is that it can be paired with both heels and flats – from stacked boots to loafers – to suit whatever your working day looks like. Take a style cue from LaQuan Smith and team with a cropped jacket to balance proportions.
The ‘From-The-Waist-Up’ Top: THE INTRICATE BLOUSE
Zoom-ready statement blouses continue to be key this season, however they’re moving from the laptop and into the office. Restyle your favourites by tucking them into smart midi skirts or layering underneath aforementioned wide-leg suiting. If you’re looking to add a new style to your collection, take inspiration from Valentino’s autumn catwalk and reach for high-quality cotton or crêpe de chine iterations with intricate detailing such as feminine ruffles and Victoriana lace.
The Shoe: KNEE-HIGH
After months of at-home slippers, now’s the time to embrace boots and we’re backing the versatile knee-high as the style to invest in now. There are a few key new-season signatures to note: a round toe, a stacked, walkable heel and plain leather in neutral hues. These are the boots to layer underneath knitted dresses, leather skirts and relaxed tailoring. It’s wise to spend a little bit more on a beautifully made pair that will stand up to repeat wear for seasons to come.
The Cover-Up: THE STATEMENT RAINCOAT
While it might be too early to think about heavy outerwear, a raincoat is an essential addition to autumnal workwear wardrobes, being a practical and stylish way to cover up on the morning commute. Whether going for a classic mac or trench style, reach for iterations with a statement twist: a puffed-sleeve, dash of print or smart embellishment. We love Gabriela Hearst’s reimagined trench, which is versatile enough to layer over both dresses and tailoring, while adding effortless wow factor.
The Accessory: THE MULTITASKER
For days spent running between appointments, or when heading to a coffee meeting and leaving the laptop at home, a compact carrier is called for. Hitting somewhere between a handbag and a pouch, this stylishly holds just the small essentials – phone, cards, keys, mask – without the need for a large tote. Heading for drinks after work? Leave your big bag at your desk and take just this.
The Jewellery: CHUNKY CHAINS
This season’s transformer comes via chunky chain jewellery. Think oversized high-shine links in gold or silver, worn as a necklace, bracelet or earrings. Timeless yet impact-making, use to dress up simple cashmere knits, add contemporary appeal to classic shirting and lend edge to tailoring. Reach for luxe, minimal pieces that will be jewellery-box treasures for years.
The Trouser: SLOUCH-CUT
While our cashmere joggers can be retired for now, feeling comfortable in our workwear is still paramount. “The concept of comfort will not and should not go away. I don’t see it as literal as loungewear in the boardroom, but rather styles that have highly tailored or styled elements to them, and still manage to be quite chill.” says Amy Smilovic, who made the case for slouch-cut trousers in Tibi’s A/W collection. Look for premium wool iterations in neutral colourways that can easily be teamed with classic shirting.
The Bag: THE XL TOTE
The new flexible work agenda means bags need to carry desktop essentials and look stylish while doing so. “We are all now much more adept at working remotely, which has actually led to the design of some new products in the collection”, says Anya Hindmarch, who will be reaching for her Work From Home tote for the return to work: “It has all the labelled pockets you need to get organised for the school run or your portable office. Everything in its place means I can feel slightly in control in times of inevitable chaos.” Look for capacious styles with built-in compartments, or invest in pouches that can be slipped into XL totes.
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