Going back to the office… some people are thrilled, and others are realizing that it might be time to find a totally new job that allows for permanent WFH flexibility. Either way, it seems like a lot of companies are starting to enforce the truly hybrid work life (i.e. spending 2-4 days a week in the office) or bringing employees back on-site full-time.
If this is happening for you, or you’re starting a new job that requires you to be in-person, I hope you’re feeling safe about your working situation, and hopefully excited to experience true “office life” again. But there’s a question sooo many clients have been asking lately: “How the fuck do I dress like a professional ___ again??”
Whether it’s because your body has changed during the pandemic (which it very likely has AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS) or just because trends have definitely shifted since March 2020, you might be having an “oh crap” moment while trying to put together an outfit that checks all the following boxes:
- Fits well
- Is comfortable (i.e. you can sit/stand/move in the clothes for 8+ hours plus whatever your commute looks like!)
- Is the correct amount of formal or casual for your workplace
- Is appropriate for the current season (hellllloooo east coast summer…)
- Feels like YOU
And I know that last point is one that you might be tempted to eliminate in the interest of time or money or just “getting it over with” but as your friendly personal stylist, I’m telling you that doing so will just make you unhappy and enjoy the “going back to work” experience significantly less.
- Ideas for New Clothes & Shoes to Buy
At this point, your closet might need some “basics” that fit you well, or you need a couple of fun pieces to make you feel excited to dress for work again. Here are some ideas on what to shop for to help freshen up the options in your current closet
Practical But Cute Shoes
If your go-to work shoes were already pinching your feet or were generally annoying you when you were going to the office consistently, trust me, I would not rely on those to be your go-tos again. So this is an awesome opportunity to add to your shoe wardrobe and make sure you get something that is high-quality and fits like a dream.
- Flat options: This Huarache Woven Leather Flat is a beautiful summer style that’s perfect for those of us that don’t love a traditional flat. It’s also comfortable and supportive without looking orthopedic.
- Low but cute heels: I love a slingback for the office for summer. It doesn’t feel as restricting as a pump, while still achieving the look of one.
- Platform mule: While these aren’t my personal aesthetic, I’m happy to share about them. This is a comfortable option that will carry you through mid Fall, since platform mules are so easy to style with both flowy summer office styles and more buttoned-up workwear that you’ll reach for more as the weather gets cooler. Check out the classic and ultra comfortable Dansko Giana ($145) or something a little more trendy like these denim-toned Suki Platform clogs from Free People ($168).
- Office-appropriate sandals: These are my current personal favorites, Yasmin Strappy Sandal by Vionic. They are truly sandals with a heel that you can wear all day. Get something slightly structured and classic like these Italian Leather Buckle Heel from Everlane ($160), or try the adored braided strap slip-on trend like these Fuss Sandals from Bellini ($69.99).
Multifunctional Short-Sleeve Button Downs
You can get so much wear out of a short-sleeve button-up that drapes beautifully and fits you well. Wear it with dress pants, with a skirt, or over a jumpsuit for a sleek silhouette that will help you get more mileage out of your wardrobe! The Central Shirt from Madewell ($75) is a classic for a reason, or check out the Shirred Button-Front Shirt from Gap ($49.95) in a classic white or super stylish print. On the weekend or when you’re going out, these short-sleeve button downs look so good left open or knotted with a lace bralette underneath.
Wear together for a super polished look or mix and match to make even more of your wardrobe work. It feels like suit separates have been IMPOSSIBLE to find in the last couple of years, but hope is alive with options like these:
- Universal Standard: Cigarette Pants ($128), All Day Blazer ($238), Desk-to-Dinner Ponte Skirt ($138)
- J.Crew: Cameron Pant ($98), Willa Blazer ($228), Smocked Puff-Sleeve Linen Top ($89.50)
- Boden: Pull-On Pants (so many prints) ($95), Classic Cotton Button-Downs ($80), Hampshire Stretch Jersey Skirt ($85)
Everyone needs a “no brain power” option, and you can get a gorgeous and work-appropriate silhouette with a jumpsuit! The main things to look out for are wider straps or short sleeves, and making sure the fit leans a little more relaxed while still having some structure. I love this light blue breezy linen jumpsuit from Boden ($180) for casual Friday if your office is more formal, or make it work any day in an environment that leans more smart casual. Or grab a structured belted jumpsuit like this one from ASOS Design ($67) for a sleek effortless look.
- Intentionally Incorporating Outfit Planning Into Your Routine
In order to feel powerful going back into the office, it’s a good idea to very intentionally carve out time for outfit planning at the beginning of the week because the routine of dressing for work probably doesn’t feel as automated as it once did. So at the beginning of the week (based on how many days you’re in the office) plan your outfits– including shapewear, specific bras/underwear, and accessories! This way, you can also figure out when you might need to do a quick load of laundry or pick up your dry cleaning to make all your outfits possible in a week. Here’s what you can do in an hour (or two, MAX) to make dressing for success feel super easy each week.
- Select your full outfits, and try them on if necessary
- Mentally plan how you want to wear your hair with each outfit – if needed, write out a schedule for when you need to wash your hair depending on the style
- Steam or iron all your pieces for that week at once – hang so that your work is preserved. If something gets a little wrinkly, use de-wrinkler spray the morning of or hang it in the bathroom while you shower that morning or the night before.
- Hang each day on a single hanger if everything can fit, or tie multiple hangers together with a ribbon so you know exactly what you need to reach. Put your “this week” hangers at the part of your closet that’s easiest to reach or where your planned outfits will stand out visually the most!
- Check all your planned garments for stains you may have missed or little things like pulled threads. Either do whatever you need to fix the issue right away, or put that piece aside– if you’re not going to deal with it during this dedicated time, you’re definitely not going to do it while you’re rushing to get out the door.
If this list feels over the top, remember, THIS IS A FORM OF SELF CARE. Make sure you have all the tools you need to feel good about yourself and make it easy to show up for yourself each day. Hell, have a glass of wine or a treat, put on an episode of your favorite show, light a gorgeous-smelling candle, and make sure this routine feels like quality you-time. This little adjustment to your routine can really help to eliminate the “Sunday Scaries”, and reduce your morning stress during the week!
Other Little Helpful Things!
- Buy yourself a new perfume for work – this is such an easy way to make the transition feel a little more special each day. Typically, more subtle scents are better for an office environment since you never know who is highly sensitive to fragrances, but there are plenty of options. Check out Skylar perfumes, Replica fragrances, or Pacifica perfumes while looking for citrus, fresh, or sandalwood notes instead of anything too floral or heavy.
- Pre-pack a backup of your daily makeup, or a makeup “emergency kit” in case you need to rush out the door. Light concealer, a tinted moisturizer, brow gel, cream blush, lip gloss, and mascara can be all you need to feel fresh-faced. (Bonus: Buy a mini setting spray and bring a clean sponge to feel good about your makeup application!)
- If you’re carrying everything from travel mugs to papers, make sure you clean out your bag each evening. Get a little basket for your living room or bedroom to dump the contents of your bag that you don’t need after cleaning it, and deal with it later, but having a designated space for that stuff REALLY helps prevent it taking over your entire space!
Here’s to only working at jobs that fulfill us, and treating our work outfits the same way! If this feels super overwhelming or you need to redo wayyy more of your closet, let’s chat– I’d love to help you find your vision. xoxo