When I first heard we were coming back to the office, it immediately sparked the question, “what am I going to wear?” Dressing for the office is intimidating for any recent college graduate, but when you tack on working full-time for the first time straight out of a pandemic, there’s an entirely new level of excitement (and a fear) that comes with it. On one hand, I’ve missed the creative process of styling new outfits every day, but on the other hand, having never experienced an office dress code I was completely lost. Black yoga pants and slacks are basically the same thing… right?
Return to business casual post-pandemic
Working from home, it’s easy to go from looking like you just rolled out of bed (because you probably did) to office-ready by throwing a sweater on and brushing your hair. After over a year of just dressing from the waist up, the concept of a head-to-toe outfit is daunting. Especially considering there has been no need for professional pants or shoes in anyone’s wardrobe for over a year.
I gave my wardrobe a bit of a refresh to come back to the office, and it was more difficult than I thought. It turns out I no longer know my size after more than a year of not wearing pants. I would order work pants only to have them not fit, and the pants that did fit didn’t go with any of my tops. I thought I needed a whole new wardrobe, but it got easier.
When all you’re ever looking for is a one-off “perfect outfit,” you have nothing to wear. But when you’re living in your wardrobe daily, it comes to life. You realize that the pieces you own aren’t bad, they just need to be reimagined. Coming up with new looks by styling the same pieces in new ways becomes a fun challenge. You realize that the top you wish you had returned pairs perfectly with the pair of pants you bought in March 2020 and suddenly you’ve got a brand new outfit.
Why you should be excited about dressing for the office
Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that getting dressed every day does make a difference in how you feel. It prepares you for anything the day throws at you and actually increases productivity. Feeling confident in an outfit improves your mental health and helps you feel more inspired and empowered.
5 tips for dressing for the office post-pandemic
If you’re struggling with your back to work wardrobe, here are 5 tips for dressing for the office post-pandemic:
- Try on the clothes you already own and figure out what to keep and what to replace.
- Style several outfits in advance and take pictures so you don’t have to think of outfits the morning of.
- If you find your wardrobe is lacking, purchase workwear that makes you excited to get dressed in the morning.
- Think about proportions when styling. If your top is flowy, slim-fit pants pair better. If your pants are a looser or straight leg, tighter tops pair better.
- Find comfortable work pants and work shoes that are easy to style with a lot of your tops. Invest in multiple colors of each.