Many of us who made the shift to the WFH lifestyle during COVID-19 got used to the flexibility of the hours and attire that came along with it. While some may argue the office dress code following the pandemic should never go back to what it was before, odds are “outfits” consisting of our pajamas, robes and slippers will forever be too casual when we’re working from anywhere other than our couches.
If your office is opening up soon, or you’re trying to mentally prepare yourself before any HR updates come through, now might be a great time to reevaluate how you can bring more of your personal style into your workplace wardrobe.
From blouses in unexpected prints and patterns to a pair of novelty socks, here’s how to subtly express yourself with your work outfit.
Start With the Staples
When you’re getting dressed for the workday, start by building the foundation, that is, whatever you’ll be wearing to cover up your top and bottom. Just because you might need to wear a blouse instead of a t-shirt to the office doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative with your choices. Think about how to incorporate quirky details others might not notice at first glance.
- A flowy blouse is a great option for a business casual work environment. Pick a pattern that is super fun when you look closely at it. (Are those tiny dots actually, shamrocks? Is that print of, kitty cats?)
- Look for pants or tops that have special-looking buttons, and if you can’t find one, consider swapping them out for something you picked on your own.
- Don’t be afraid to play with silhouettes. Maybe you feel most comfortable rocking dress pants with flare legs or prefer a peplum top with slim fit bottoms.
There’s always a way to have some fun with your work outfit, especially when it comes to prints and patterns.
Add Some Funky Layers
We’ve all become used to working from the comfort of our homes where we can wear whatever we want, and, perhaps most importantly, set the temperature to whatever we want it to be! Unfortunately, once we get back into the office, we’ll be forced to deal with a fluctuating indoor climate with competing temperature preferences from our coworkers. While this can be frustrating, it does give you the chance to get a little creative with your layering pieces. That’s right, no bland or stuffy cardigans here!
- Consider keeping a funky blazer with some unexpected detailing or pattern work, like studs or tutti frutti pinstripes, at your desk for moments when you’re feeling chilly or simply want to show off a bit of your personality.
- A beaded or sequined sweater offers just the right combination of sparkle and warmth while still looking professional enough for a staff meeting.
- If you work in a creative field where the dress code is more flexible, a flowy duster can almost feel as comfortable as that robe you loved wearing while working from home.
The best part about a quirky layering piece is that you can easily take it on or off depending on how fancy your outfit needs to be during the workday. If you have a morning meeting with a more serious client on the calendar, you can take your funky blazer off until the afternoon.
Once you have the basics down, you can finish the look with standout accessories. After all, your socks, shoes and jewelry can help you tie your whole outfit together!
- Novelty socks offer a little surprise pop of funky excitement, especially in quirky prints like goats or avocados. Unless you’re sitting with your feet up on your desk all day, people might not even notice you have them on, unless you show them.
- You don’t have to wear basic black penny loafers if you don’t want to! Add a burst of color to your look with pink pumps or a sparkly sandal.
- Shine on with sparkly jewelry, belts and/or headbands that bring just the right touch of sweetness to a workday outfit.
There are endless ways you can accessorize your outfits which can make getting ready for work tons of fun, especially if you haven’t had the chance to dress up in a while! If you’re into using fashion to express yourself in bold ways, don’t feel pressured to confine your jewelry choices to tiny stud earrings and pearl necklaces.
Mind the Dress Code
While we might have gotten used to answering emails from bed (no judgment here!) or dialing into conference calls while still in our gym clothes, it’s not likely that offices will be quite so flexible once they start opening up for business. After all, there are many reasons why some companies have dress codes, all of which are still relevant after quarantine.
Dress codes can:
- Help establish expectations for what constitutes appropriate attire.
- Make it easier for employees to pick out their outfits in the morning and allows them to focus on work.
- Create a level playing field for all team members.
- Reflect leaderships’ vision and the founders’ vision for the company.
Those of us who never really found the motivation to switch out of our cute kitty cat pajamas throughout the workday might benefit from having some guidelines in place to help us. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t take some of that quirky style with us once we finally get back to the office. Whether it’s an unexpected print on a blouse or pair of wacky socks poking out from underneath your slacks, the key to expressing yourself with your work outfit is most definitely subtlety.