Professional women are finding themselves in the interesting, albeit expected, predicament of not having much use for their corporate clothing post-pandemic lockdown. Aside from the fact that once the world started working from home we all made a permanent habit of wearing what we would normally wear to the gym, now that things are starting to open up again and some people are heading back to work, it’s different. Not only is the need to dress in a corporate manner not as necessary, but there have also been discussions about whether there will be a fundamental shift in workplace attire. Dress codes have become increasingly laxer with every passing year and it’s hard for me to remember the last time a client asked me to help them find a suit. Suited separates? Yes. Classic suits? Not really.
This is not to say we’ll all be wearing yoga pants to board meetings and client appointments, and after what we have lived through, it does beg the question if out of sheer boredom of putting on yoga pants day after day if we won’t relish the idea of gussying up a bit. The future is yet to be seen as we’re still working through this whole new normal. However, in the immediate now, as we’re just starting to open up again, corporate women aren’t finding a real need for their corporate clothes.
Checking in with some clients I have helped build gorgeous, expensive corporate wardrobes, one a CEO, one who works in conservative DC, and one who works in finance, they echoed the same sentiments despite being in different work environments. Obviously, their corporate clothes have been collecting dust in their closets for months and when they predict the future, they all use the same word: mid-casual. That term I coined last year which is a look that is that mid-range style between casual and dressed up. And even despite having closets filled with clothes, they are now discovering holes in their closets that need to be filled.
Corporate Rework: Reworking Your Corporate Clothes for a Post-Lockdown Workplace
For the time being, pieces like sheath dresses and heels will likely take a back seat but many pieces that were part of your corporate wardrobe can be reworked to be worn more casually. Instead of feeling like you wasted a ton of money on clothes that have no place in your new life, check out how I reworked them.
M.M. Lafleur is a go-to for many working women and the nice thing about many of their pieces is they can be easily reworked for different dress codes. I also love Eileen Fisher’s classic tank for layering. A piece like this definitely knows now boundaries as a universal piece.
I styled this belted sweater jacket from M.M. Lafleur with their coveted self-hemming Foster pants with the Eileen Fisher tank in bone. I finished the outfit with a pair of sneaker loafers from AGL and a modern necklace from Cos.
Like sheath dresses, pencil skirts are a tough sell for this post-lockdown world because to get the proportion right they often require heels, something few women really want to think about at the moment.
To make pencil skirts work, I styled this one from Hobbs with a more casual pair of flatform wedge sandals which can better the proportions of the skirt while still looking casual. I styled the skirt with a chambray button down shirt from J. Crew that is both polished and casual looking along with a pair of hoop earrings from Madewell.
I love this dress from BOSS Hugo Boss. It’s a perennial style that I have put many clients in over the years. Just this year, I put a client in this blazing orangey red shade and she immediately fell in love. Like BOSS’s famous button-down shirt, this dress has a faux placket, so no gaping, and side zip. It’s a 1-2-3 easy look. Of course, this dress can be styled for a more conservative look but it can also be easily reworked more casually. In this look, I styled it with a pair of casual sandals from Eileen Fisher and gold vermeil hoops.
Your blazers may be finding themselves moving to the back of the closet these days if you are relying on them solely for work, but blazers can also be styled casually quite easily. Additionally, given the endless Zoom meetings where waist up style is all most people care about, along with the fact that some workplaces will be much more casual, they can be easily reworked for work in a more casual manner.
I styled this blazer from Veronica Beard with a pair of cropped wide-leg jeans from J. Crew and a basic white t-shirt from Everlane. I finished the look with a simple necklace from Kendra Scott and grey loafers from 27 Edit.
Lastly, your tailored pants. An easy thing to rework casually. Like I have shown in my one item, five different ways series, it’s not always about the outfit but how you style the outfit that counts.
Still figuring out how to rework your work style?
It’s a strange time to be a personal stylist, particularly one who specializes in workplace style. On the one hand, work clothes seem so frivolous given the circumstances. Yet on the other, we’re in this position of figuring out how to rework our styles for the post-pandemic workplace? If you need some guidance, I’d love to set up a free image and style assessment and see how I might be able to help you one-on-one.