In March 2020, workers all over the world hung up their corporate wardrobe for what would eventually be a two-year journey of stretch pants and, let’s be frank, lacklustre grooming.
The fashion world swiftly responded, delivering comfortable styles with couture flair and beauty bloggers went viral with their minimalist ‘Zoom-friendly’ looks. As we now begin to go back into the office, how do we begin to separate our home lives from our professional lives? Is workwear still relevant in 2022, or will stretch-pants-culture infiltrate the corporate world?
“Effort counts. Showing up looking ready counts,” Williams says. “For me personally, I love dressing for the part and dressing for success is part of my role. My clothes help me fit the environment I am in, whether that be flip-flops, a swimsuit and no make-up for the beach or at work, in my business attire.
“For either environment, I am game on. If I was working on a building site, I would be head to toe in high vis and safety gear, not heels and a suit. It’s all relative. Dress fit for purpose. And be the best you can be. You simply feel better. You get better results.”
The term ‘personal branding’ became a buzzword during the global pandemic, with over 100 million articles appearing on Google in 2020 and 2021 alone. Unsurprisingly, a whole new industry was born, dedicated to shaping the digital profiles of the world’s business leaders and entrepreneurs. With so much of our lives lived online, it’s easy to forget that how we show up in the real world matters.
“Be something, not nothing,” Williams says. “When you walk out your front gate or turn your screen on, the world is watching you. Fashion or how you dress and how you hold yourself is your mark on the world. It’s showing others who you are. Confidence comes from looking good, so do look good. Be relevant. Walk the talk. Be fit for purpose.”
Danielle Johansen, fashion stylist and CEO of online styling service Threadicated, agrees that ‘work’ fashion is still relevant in today’s culture. What has changed is how people shop, with a trend towards conscious buying and capsule wardrobes.
“Work is one of the few places where tradition still trumps trends, every time,” says Johansen. “But that doesn’t mean while you climb the corporate ladder you need to blend in. All it takes is investing in a few classic pieces you can wear season after season to create the base of your work wardrobe, then introducing a few new pieces each season will give you a refreshed looking work-drobe without spending much.”
Ahead, Johansen shares what pieces to add to your capsule work wardrobe.
The Work-Drobe Staples
“The classics you’ll turn to season after season, you’ll want to go for quality over quantity, in timeless cuts and neutral tones. Once you have these pieces established you have the base for your work-drobe that you can build on over time.”
“Choose a cut that flatters your frame, in a mid-weight fabric that you can wear year-round. It pays to choose a quality pair that will wash and wear well.”
“Confidence is key here, choose a cut and neutral colour that makes you feel like a boss.”
White Blouse or Button Up
“This should be versatile but at the same time makes you want to pick it in frequent rotation.”
“Go for a cut that gives you confidence in the workplace, try to avoid anything you’d wear to a bar or club — think Audrey Hepburn and you won’t go wrong.”
“Whether your style is a heel or a flat, find something you love and are confident in. You want to find a happy medium, if you love heels opt for something three inches or less — and a block heel over a stiletto, you never know when the boss will suggest walking to the next meeting that is on the other side of town. Choose a neutral colour, nude or black that will pair with everything.”
The Trending Updates
“This is where you let your personality shine through, in seasonal trends you are loving and styles that are so you. Just pair them back with your classic pieces and you’ve got yourself a boardroom look.”
Tops, Blouses or Knits
“These are going to be most versatile in refreshing your look, so I’d recommend adding one or two of these each season if you’re after a refresh, they can be paired back with your bottoms or layered over your black dress.
Skirt or Pants
“You can pare these back with your blazer and or white blouse.”
“Try a trending belt, bag, or shoe in a shade you love that will refresh the look of your classic black dress, or add a pop of personality to your classic pants.”