36 Outfit Ideas for What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic

I know it’s been a while since most restrictions have been lifted in the UK, but it’s back to the office for many people.

And whether you are going back to the office because you WANT to, or because you’re being TOLD to (I’m not getting into a debate about how compared to those without remote-work access, access to remote work increases employee well-being, productivity, innovation, and inclusion*, but there you go), it seems to be a thing that we’ve all forgotten how to dress for the office.

Or, how to dress for the office post-pandemic (and by that I mean now that ‘normal life’ is resuming to a certain extent, even though we are still living with the virus).

However, I think I have a solution: with a few simple pieces and basic structure, it may be easier to nail a post-pandemic working wardrobe than you think.

Above all, I think it’s COLOUR and a little FUN that should be the main ingredients. Who wants to dress in all navy or black when the world is struggling like it is…?

*London School of Economics, ‘Remote work can boost productivity and curb burnout

 

[6 minute read]

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Now I may not have any experience of working in an office since the pandemic, but a few people have asked me to share my ideas about what to wear to work now.

Have dress codes changed? (You tell me.) Have lockdown zoom calls and now forcing ourselves to get out of our pyjamas made things more relaxed now we are – to a greater or lesser extent – back at our actual place of work where [horror of horrors] real-life people are?!

 

Full disclosure: I haven’t worked in an office for nearly nine years.

So I WILL admit this post is mostly speculation on my part. However, I’ve been quite observant when it comes to people talking about what to wear to the office (and “the office” includes WFH) the past couple of years. Although I don’t miss my old job, I do miss the fact that I was forced (you know what I mean) to get dressed UP every morning. I guess it’s one of the reasons I started the blog in the first place: to record what I wore each day which was, initially, mainly what I wore to the office.

And without wanting to reminisce about the “good old days” of blogging daily outfits (which seem so long ago now…), this is how I think working wardrobes could be structured in the 2020s. I’m not going for anything too corporate and of course I’m excluding ideas for places that require a uniform, but I’m doing this for an office or workplace which doesn’t particularly have any sort of formal dress code. A place where a bikini top and short shorts would be highly inappropriate (unless you’re a lifeguard at a local pool in a hot country I guess), but at least some sense of decorum is.

All the outfits I’ve featured are from my archives and can be adapted to suit your style. You’ll notice I’m sometimes wearing a hat as I tend to feel naked without one, but I’m not suggesting you wear a hat to work. These are all for inspiration so pick and choose the bits you like.

I’ve divided the outfits into sections via key pieces. Your own workplace may be more – or less – relaxed for what I’ve suggested here. I’m imagining what I’d wear if I were to go back to a job in an office. It’s a fairly relaxed one, but one where I’d have to meet with clients, attend team meetings, represent my company on a regular basis, etc.

As it was for me in my office days, I’ve allowed myself a little creativity. Lots of colour, prints and accessories. A dash of fun. Hopefully you’ll allow yourself that too ; -)

Your turn: got any working wardrobe tips for us? Which of my back to the office looks inspires you the most? Has your office dress code changed/become more relaxed? Comment below…

 

Stay safe, XOXO

Catherine signature

 

1. Accessories

Probably the quickest, easiest way to zhuj up any outfit.

I’ve amassed a great collection of accessories over the years, and to some extent accessories don’t date very much (a lot less quickly than on-trend clothing does, anyway). If you have a collection of belts, scarves, bags, jewellery and other things like collars and neckties in a variety of colours you’ll find you can wear the same basic outfit in a multitude of ways all by switching up the accessories.

I’ve talked before about how accessories can breathe life into an old outfit (also meaning you can rewear the same clothes again and again and thus helping your wardrobe habits become more sustainable), and it’s true.

Here are a few of the way I’ve added accessories to my outfits, which wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as effective without the key accessory:

Some of my favourites are scarves, belts and detachable collars (or neckties). My collections of all three – not to mention my jewellery – are made up of items in every colour under the sun. Or rather, every one of “my” colours: orange, red, yellow, pink, gold, coral and of course the neutrals like olive, brown, tan, black and grey. If you prefer cool colours, do the same but swap the oranges and reds for blues, mints, teals and purples.

Search Etsy or eBay for vintage or preloved – don’t just look for what’s on-trend. A vintage scarf in your favourite colours will go with all your outfits forevermore (as I always say, vintage doesn’t date – it’s already dated…!)

Accessories mean your “standard” officewear can be boosted at the drop of a hat. Add a statement chunky necklace or Chanel-inspired necktie to elevate your plain cashmere sweater or shirt. Pair with loose, comfy wide-leg trousers and smart trainers (loafers if you prefer) that peek out from underneath those long pant legs and you’ve got a super smart but super comfy outfit for the office.

 

You might like these accessories for your office workwear…

Necklaces

Scarves

Belts

Bags

Neckties & collars

 

 

2. Blazers

Some women are blazer-obsessed {cough}, and quite rightly so – they work with just about anything (the blazers, not the women)…!

I don’t think it really matters WHAT you’re wearing (jeans, maxi dress, jumpsuit, tailored trousers), a blazer will make it look smart without necessarily looking corporate. I have mostly neutral blazers in navy, camel, grey Prince of Wales check and I think a black one, and then a few in my favourite colours of emerald green, red, orange and pale pink which work with just about everything in my wardrobe (see a few examples below).

Blazers are SO versatile – how many other pieces of clothing will elevate any outfit to make it both suitable for work AND for the weekend? Depending on where on the casual ⇒ creative ⇒ corporate scale your workplace (and any subsequent dress code) is, you can, within reason, make your base outfit almost anything you like and then just add a blazer over the top… voilà: you’re smart enough for work.

 

You might like these blazers for the office…

 

 

3. Dresses and jumpsuits

Who doesn’t love the ease of dressing that comes with a dress or a jumpsuit? Just add shoes and go, basically.

Whether you want to go for a plain or a print (or even a small, subtle print), dresses and jumpsuits are foolproof for work. (Except, maybe, when you’ve added a sweater and coat over the top of your difficult-to-get-on-and-off jumpsuit and you need a wee like, NOW. Then you’ll begin to question your life decisions. Believe me, I’ve been there.)

In winter, add boots, an optional roll neck for layering and a belt in coordinating colours to dress up your chosen one-piece. In summer, all you really need is shoes (and a belt adds that extra something but you may want to stay cooler round the middle) – in warm weather I tend to swap belts and layering for lots of jewellery instead. Fabulous necklaces (see no.1 accessories above!) tend to get hidden in winter but summer is the time to go for it jewellery-wise.

 

You might like these dresses and jumpsuits for the office…

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4. Shirts and sweaters

No matter how plain your bottom half, a brightly-coloured or bold print shirt or sweater will forever look good, especially with tailored trousers or skirts.

It’s probably my most common go-to on a day I want to dress one stage up from jeans: people tend to see the top half of you more than the bottom half (think Zoom calls and meetings!), so it makes sense to wear colours and prints on your top half.

Shirts, blouses and sweaters: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Shirts, blouses and sweaters: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion

I’m really rather into my vintage shirts at the moment (the patterns are unrivalled) and most of my sweaters are in bright colours. The two black exceptions (above) have either texture or detailing. If black HAS to be your go-to, I can’t recommend collars, necklaces, scarves or other jewellery enough.

 

You might like these shirts and sweaters for the office…

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5. Smart trainers, loafers and brogues

More acceptable due to the pandemic perhaps, but they don’t need to be your dirty walking-the-dog-in trainers. Loafers and brogues will always be your work best friend: smart, comfy and almost never date. I’m still wearing brogues I’ve had for over 12 years.

Trainers, loafers and brogues: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Trainers, loafers and brogues: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Trainers, loafers and brogues: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Trainers, loafers and brogues: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion

I so rarely wear heels now I don’t think I’d wear them if I went back to work in an office, despite me wearing them regularly when I did. The choice of fashion trainers (not the sports ones, in other words) these days is bigger than ever, and I don’t doubt the pandemic resulting in so many people WFH has made shoe retailers realise that fashion trainers are big business.

People want COMFORT, it’s that simple.

My favourite look is, undoubtedly, a pair of flatform trainers poking out from underneath a pair of loose wide-legged trousers. Adds height to your legs (if, like me, you want that) and doesn’t kill your feet. And as mentioned, brogues and loafers just never date. You’ll get so much more wear out of them (than you will heels) and your back and feet will thank you later in life.

 

You might like these smart trainers, loafers and brogues for the office…

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6. Longline blazers and duster coats

A forever-favourite of mine, a longline piece of outerwear is like a stylish safety net for me.

Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion
Longline blazer: Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion

This is absolutely what I go for every time I’m feeling like I want to cover up a bit. Or even just stay a bit warmer. Whether it’s more of a coatigan or a literal longline blazer, it’s the ultimate outerwear cover-up.

It also should, I imagine, do the job of a coat in a cold air-conditioned office [all the Brits reading this are going Air-conditioned office? What sort of crazy-ass luxury is that?!] or even one that’s just cold in winter. For 11 years I worked in an office that was freezing in winter and boiling in summer. A longline blazer or duster coat was always how I got around the problem of wanting to wear my coat to keep me warm, but not wanting to look like I’d just walked in from outside.

Nothing helped in the summer though…!

 

You might like these longline blazers and duster coats for the office…

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36 Workwear Ideas, What to Wear to the Office Post-Pandemic | Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 40 Style and Fashion

Linking up to… Monday: Stylish Monday, Inspire Me MondayMy Glittery Heart, On Mondays We Link Up || Tuesday: Style With a Smile, Trend Spin/Walking in Memphis in High Heels, Turning Heads Tuesday, Spread the Kindness, Confident Twosday, Happy Now Blog Link Up || Wednesday: WowOnWednesday || Thursday: Chic & Stylish, Ageless Style Linkup (third Thursday of the month), || Friday: Neverending Style, Fancy Friday, On the Edge, Fabulous Friday’s Link Up

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Catherine

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