Work wear has had a re-brand, and it's never been more comfortable

How to dress for a return to the office after a year of loungewear

After a hiatus, workwear is back with a bang as a return to the office looms on the horizon. But fear not, for it’s never looked better or been more comfortable. 

Fashion should, first and foremost, be viewed through the lens of comfort: if an outfit isn’t comfortable, which is to say if you’re not comfortable wearing it, then the outfit, frankly, doesn’t work.

Never has comfort reigned more supreme than during the last 18 months, when many of us were ordered to eschew the watercooler chat and humming comradery of the office (remember the office?) and instead to work from home – or kitchen table, or, indeed, bed.

The carousel of shirts, trousers and comfort-first, borderline-orthopaedic shoes we relied upon to present our best working selves within the confines of the office were relegated to the dusty corners of our wardrobes in favour of pyjamas, loungewear (so much loungewear) and gym gear. Our waistbands got more elasticated, bras became a relic from a time BC (Before Covid) and our hygiene routines threw themselves out of the window as we collectively embraced a heightened sense of sartorial ferality.  

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But now, as many of us anticipate imminent return to offices, the penny has dropped: it will no longer do to spend your day working at your kitchen table in just your knickers and a T-shirt. What we need now is an entirely new approach to our working selves; an approach that can maintain a patina of respectability without compromising our new BFFL, comfort.

The parameters of office attire have changed and so, too, have we. These are the simple and totally foolproof fashion trends to embrace for your return to IRL working life.

Invest in a crisp colourful cotton shirt   

A crisp colourful cotton shirt will elevate even the most monotonous of outfits
A crisp colourful cotton shirt will elevate even the most monotonous of outfits

White shirts are out, and colourful shirts are in. Forget the fitted iterations you used to spend all day feeling uncomfortable in, for fashion has fallen for a looser, more oversized shirt which makes for a simpler outfit component.

The way the fashion set are styling theirs (which come almost always by way of minimalist maven The Frankie Shop) is perfect for back-to-work attire: throw an XXL colourful shirt over a ribbed tank top, wide-leg trousers and chunky shoes, et voila. A desk-to-dusk look that’s never looked fresher, or felt better. 

Wear your pyjamas – no, really

Sleeper's souped-up pyjamas are a no-brainer comfort-first office outfit
Sleeper's souped-up pyjamas are a no-brainer comfort-first office outfit

Okay, maybe not your threadbare supermarket PJs that you’ve held onto for the last decade, but there is a fleet of elevated pyjamas that are making daytime dressing a whole lot easier – and more comfortable, too.

The purveyor of the office-ready pyjama is Sleeper, whose feather-trimmed PJs have become a go-to among the fashion cognoscenti. Styling them couldn’t be easier: throw them on with a pair of box fresh white trainers for your commute, and then swap out the sneaks for a chic micro mule for meetings with your boss or drinks after work. Despite their perennially comfortable appeal, pyjamas have never looked quite so stylish. 

Sport an It knit dress 

A throw-on-and-go knitted dress is a foolproof fashion choice
A throw-on-and-go knitted dress is a foolproof fashion choice

For those who love a dress (see: all of us), you’ll rejoice at the fact that It knits have graduated to become dresses in the fashion sphere, and they’re the comfortable throw-on-and-go dress that’s crying out to be debuted at your office.

If you prefer to push the fashion boat out with your work attire, wear yours with fashion’s footwear choice du jour, clogs (yes, really); or, if you like your fashion boat exactly where you can see it, in the harbour, then keep it simple with a pair of sleek trainers.  

Embrace a two-piece suit

Two-piece suits are big news, and perfect for heading back to work
Two-piece suits are big news, and perfect for heading back to work

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ganni’s two-piece suits flooded the streets of the recent Copenhagen Fashion Week, but it’s not just influencers and It-girls that have the monopoly on them. In fact, a two-piece suit, when worn with a pair of trainers or kitten heels, is the perfect accoutrement to your back-to-work life.

Keep it oversized and XXL for the fashion-forward way to work the trend, or wear each piece as separates for a pared-back take. The key is to pair it with plenty of attitude, a chic tote bag, and there you have it: an office outfit that means business. 

Chunky loafers are your friend – get to know them 

Chunky loafers are both comfortable and cool
Chunky loafers are both comfortable and cool

Work shoes needn’t be heinous nor uncomfortable, especially when chunky loafers have made such a splash in the fashion sphere as of late. These are shoes that tick the style box without compromising on that all-important comfort.

Throw them on with anything – yes, anything – you wear to the office, but for serious back-to-work fashion points, pair them with a slip dress, wide-leg trousers or, indeed, the aforementioned suit and knitted frock. Comfortable and cool: what could be better?  

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Images: courtesy of Getty Images.