Whether you’ve loved or loathed working from home, the reality is, with eased restrictions, the next few months will see most of us return to the office. And, while flexi-working will remain the (not entirely unwelcome) norm for most, those days that you do spend back at your desk will require you to be properly attired. But what does that even mean in a post-lockdown world?
This will depend hugely on your company’s clothing policy but, for many, a year spent in loungewear, has seen real-life regulations relax considerably. So if you’re staring at your pre-Covid wardrobe of skirt suits and tailored blouses in abject horror, the good news is you probably don’t have to go back to those extremes. Instead, opt for a uniform of slouchier, semi-casual pieces in luxe fabrics that serve business with a side of style. Here’s our essential back-to-work shopping edit.
For a day at your desk
The key to creating a wardrobe of day-in day-out looks that never get tired is investing in good quality, versatile separates that feel modern and comfortable while maintaining a businesslike air. Start with a great navy blazer – Reiss does a brilliant selection but our pick of the best is this double-breasted Logan design. Next, it’s time to ditch the tired white button downs and restrictive pencil skirts of the pre-pandemic days. A pair of silk Bermuda shorts is a much chicer alternative (Emporio Armani is your go-to here) while Mark Kenly’s minimalist cream top is both more contemporary and easier to style than the shirts you’re used to. We promise you’ll turn to it time and time again.
When it comes to accessories, think classic with a twist. Jimmy Choo’s pearl-embellished Ade shoes are not your average ballerina flats while The Alkemistry’s elegantly simple diamond chain necklace can be worn on its own for work and layered with other favourite pieces at weekends. Suzanne Kalan’s multi-stone bangle, meanwhile, is an easy way to add a touch of fun and personality.
For a boardroom meeting
You mean business – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wear a business suit. The way to captivate an audience in the boardroom now? With chic, sharp tailoring in primary brights. Swapping a standard jacket for a fitted peplum blouse paired with wide-legged trousers in a summery lemon hue, this De La Vali suit is equal parts smart and chic.
Don’t go overboard on the accessories, however. Nude pumps are your friend here and Jennifer Chamandi is the cool girl’s choice for a contemporary take. Alex Monroe, meanwhile, offers a huge range of charm necklaces that are ideal for adding a touch of character to your outfit (and won’t break the bank if you want to invest in more than one – which you will). Of course, no good boardroom outfit is complete without a watch and Bulgari’s gold Serpenti design has CEO written all over it.
For a business lunch
Meeting with clients will always call for more formal attire but there are still ways to inject a little of your own style into your look. If your usual default would be black trousers and a blue shirt, a little tweak courtesy of Prada’s kilt-style midi skirt (its lightly checked fabric is a great nod to traditional suiting) and Jason Wu’s pussy-bow blouse will make things feel fresh again. Complete the look with some timeless pieces you can count on again and again. Dior’s Lady Dior bag and Cartier’s Panthère de Cartier watch are no brainers while these leather ankle boots from Berlin-based designer Aeyde will go with practically everything in your wardrobe.
For casual Friday
You’ve made it to the end of the week. You’ve got dinner plans after work and the last thing you want is to carry a separate outfit around with you all day. Well, thanks to dress-down Friday, you don’t have to. This elegant cotton mid-length shirt dress from Italian designer Luisa Beccaria is the epitome of smart-casual and can be worn with sandals (or Axel’s classic Arigato leather sneakers if your office allows) during the summer and with knee-length boots and a timeless Max Mara camel coat when the temperature drops. Finish with Saint Laurent’s always-chic camera bag and these unusual asymmetric earrings by London-based jeweller Mark Nuell for the ultimate desk-to-dinner look.
Read more: The best London tailors for women