Work-Leisure – Embracing the new workwear dress code
“Don’t change to fit the fashion, change the fashion to fit you”
A statement that’s never been more relatable than during a global pandemic!
Since March 2020, the majority of the working-from-home (WFH) cohort have resorted to dressing in ‘Zoom top/ WFH bottoms’. Partly as a novelty, but largely due to convenience given the *once in a lifetime* situation that covid lockdowns have created. Some WFH-ers have worn ‘work pjs’ during business hours in their home office, and changed into ‘bedtime pjs’ for bed. No judgement from us!
Working from home ‘workwear’
We can thank numerous apparel brands for their pivot into a focus on cheerful athleisure style attire in an attempt to lift our spirits during prolonged isolation. Along with printed T-shirts with inspiring slogans like “Be Kind”, “Stay home” and “Wash Your Hands”, branded logo sweats flooded the market to meet a rise in consumer demand for clothing that provided a sense of community. These messages unite us, and remind us that we’ve been (and still are) “in this together” in some way. Particularly without our team mates by our side.
Living and working in isolation enabled us to shop online more frequently. Online shopping was up 95% from 2019 – 2020 in AUS, and has risen a further 23% in 2021. It’s no wonder one of the most popular apparel categories involved comfortable clothing designed especially for hanging out at home, as these products flew into our online shopping carts without a second thought. For those of us enduring extended lockdowns – feeling all the ground hog day feels for months – our workwear, & weekend wear, merged into one wardrobe style.
With vaccination rollouts around the world evolving the pandemic response to resemble pre-covid times, luxury brands have started to gain traction as many lockdown-fatigued workers start to plan outfits to signal a reemergence back into the world. For some, this will mean heading back to work with a much bolder approach to dressing than their pre-pandemic style. History tells us that a desire for an elevated re-incarnation of our wardrobes is not uncommon after a low key style of dressing that’s typically associated with times of crisis.
As we approach a new ‘hybrid’ work-life-balance that involves flexibility and choice around returning to work on site, there seems to be some confusion (and a little hesitancy) around what that might look like for our workwear wardrobes. Dressing ‘formally’ for work helps us mentally separate work and leisure time, which is easier to do when we step outside your home office, into the workspace. There may still be days ahead, where working from home is required – so it makes sense to build a wardrobe that serves both work-styles. We all know, that what we wear impacts how we feel about ourselves, and ultimately, how we perform. So what options do we have now that our wardrobes are full of clothing suited for languishing at home?
This new dress code meets us half way in order to make dressing for work easier than it’s ever been.
Comfortable yet smart, today’s modern workwear pieces are the striking a balance that we perhaps ALWAYS needed. So if you’re returning to in-person settings, customer facing roles or even staying home a bit longer than expected – let us break the new fashion genre down so that you can make appropriate workwear choices you’ll be able to wear over and over again.
1. Work-leisure (or Workleisure) Definition:
Workleisure loosely means bringing athleisure (activewear that’s stylish enough to wear to a cafe, or other low-key social settings) to the workplace. The term is being cited as an emerging trend as #isolife has created a demographic that’s grown accustomed to comfort. Now, non-activewear brands are using sweat wicking tech fibres, and fabrics typically used for tracksuits, to produce traditional workwear styles. This new work-from-home wardrobe embraces the comfort and versatility of activewear fabrics in essential classic styles. However they’re made in calming, neutral colours to keep the trend sophisticated and refined. Check out our own neutral workwear palette, curated for our own uniform collections.
2. That’s not a Pyjama pant, this is a pyjama pant
As quaint as working in pyjamas (PJs) was initially, that concept soon wore off as we accepted this wasn’t sustainable as corporate attire forever. Wearing PJs at our desk could make us feel a little unproductive (even if we were ticking things off our To -do list. Ahem – not just me right?). We then started to see a lift in “Zoom appropriate” attire that would be equally suitable back in the workplace. A great example of this is an elastic waist pant, or drawstring trousers. We’re not talking about the tie dye sweat pant variation! We’re referring to the variation made from silk, linen blends, wool and other more traditional suiting fabrics. A more structured version that aligns with the hybrid nature of a post-lockdown work environment. Think of them as pyjama pants for the boardroom. They make a great co-ordinate for your dressier ‘zoom top’, button down shirt or bodysuit.
2. Stretchy fabrics.
If you’ve ever cooked a bolognese for kids, you may have hidden pureed vegetables into the sauce (I still do this with my fussy teenager). Sneaky…but a genius win/ win situation for a smug parent to see their kids devour spaghetti bolognese, blissfully unaware of the incognito goodness in their tummies. This is a similar tactic adopted by designers with their workwear collections. They sneak the comfort into their smart clothing by using stretchier fabrics, hidden elastic waists or using double knit fabrics that look very structured – but stretch like activewear. We work with Ponte for this exact reason. Secret’s out now.
4. Belted blazer
The belted blazer has been around for a little while, and it’s not going away. By adding a belt to a jacket from previous seasons is a clever, and budget friendly, way to steer a traditional workwear blazer into a low key vibe. Or try out a new, slightly oversized masculine cut, then cinch the matching belt in at waist for a feminine touch. Go sleeveless for summer, and add layers in cooler weather.
We’re loving bodysuits for work. These all-in-one basics are the perfect item to underpin a relaxed suit, or co-ordinate with a comfortable trouser. They never untuck so they look tidy all day long. Choose from a multitude of neckline options (you’ll need more than one), rib knits and a range of colours that will take you from the home office to your work desk seamlessly.
7. Relaxed suiting
If you’re planning to keep up with the home workout regime by riding to work, walking at lunchtime or if your day is like a mini marathon between working from home, school pick up and the office – then this is a look that will suit you! Choose options with stretch in the fabric to ensure extra flexibility. Keep the look tonal so that it looks professional in any environment. Classy and versatile.
8. Comfort blazer
A variation of the belter blazer, this relaxed blazer style speaks for itself. This loose -fitting, often collarless variation has an eased line at the waist. Either finished with belt, or our favourite elastic detailing, these comfy blazers will stretch with you no matter what iso kilos you have accumulated over the past year or so. Pair with wide leg pants or trousers, bodysuits or turtle neck knitwear to take the comfort level up a notch.
5. Casual Friday – everyday.
While a recent study showed that 61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed. This doesn’t mean the dress code defaults to worn out t-shirts and dirty shoes. It certainly doesn’t apply when you’re required to wear a branded uniform. When you’re deciding what to wear to work outside of your home-office bubble, you need to consider how the outfit can affect how other people perceive, and therefore treat, you. Wearing whatever is perceived as “professional attire” in your place of work can improve how people perceive you and in turn, give you more confidence.
Clothing has always been one of the primary ways people express themselves and communicate their personality, culture and preferences.
It’s also one of the first things a new client, team member or boss will notice when they meet you for the first time. Choosing clothing that ‘looks professional’ but is comfortable to wear everyday, will automatically help you feel good about yourself. In turn, this will help you perform your best. Try swapping a button down shirt, for a rib tank or a t-shirt under a relaxed suit for example. Basically, bring your ‘Casual Friday’ outfit into your work week, and benefit from all the relaxed Friday feels everyday.
Work-leisure is one of the silver linings *pun intended* we discover as a positive in these crazy Covid times. We’re more than ready to embrace this welcome new workwear trend. We’re introducing the new direction to our corporate uniform clients, as well as our online collections. We’d love to hear your thoughts?
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