Luxury

A Modern Day Workwear Guide

What you can actually wear to the office, according to our resident fashion expert.

By Divya Bala

Luxury

What you can actually wear to the office, according to our resident fashion expert.

By Divya Bala

The rise of the gig economy has put the traditional idea of the office in a constant state of evolution. As co-working spaces become mainstream, the regular nine-to-five is being redefined for a new generation – and with it, the “corporate dress code”. Add to that, the modern demise of dress codes in general, (think: athleisure, sequins for day and sneakers with just about everything) and suddenly the daily grind is a sartorial minefield. The sheer number of workplace dress codes available is indicative of serious and widespread confusion.

In the United States, following Hillary Clinton during the last election campaign was made easier by Googling “pantsuit” as opposed to “presidential candidate”. Then, last year, a female journalist was denied entry into the US Speaker’s Lobby for revealing her shoulders. And in London, a female employee was sent home from her job at consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers for refusing to wear high heels.

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For a corporate dress code, play the “What would royalty do?” game. For a more conservative workplace, look to Middleton, Markle and her well-dressed wedding guest Amal Clooney who walk strict lines of dress protocol while still exuding their personal flourishes. Outside of the classic pantsuit, the shift dress is your best friend. Skirt hems are best below the knee. Most veer towards the conservative black, but navy and dark grey can be more experimental when blocked across the garment. Pale shades of blue, yellow and green, as well as primary red and blue are a few good places to start. Accessories offer a discreet place to experiment – statement heels, anyone?

If your office veers into smart casual territory, you’re in luck. Studies find that 61 per cent of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed. The trick here is to consider comfort and class, looking to muses like Phoebe Philo, Caroline de Maigret and the Olsen twins. Wide-leg and tailored cigarette style trousers are never-fails. Similarly, classic business shirts and crisp white tees paired with denim in neat cigarette styles. Opt for A-line skirts as opposed to pencil and pair with a quality basic T-shirt in a luxurious fabric. And for shoes, a clean (non-gym) pair of sneakers or a smart pair of flats should do the trick.

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