Office wear trends in 2022

When Arielle Patrick, Director of Communications at Ariel Investments, started working from home in early 2020, she discovered an appreciation for commodities.

“Before the pandemic, I aimed to wear a different outfit every day,” she says. “Now I don’t have the time to make sartorial decisions because the work is ten times more demanding than it ever was. I guess you could call it “decision fatigue”.

With the lingering complications of the pandemic and its variants, the return to work promises to be different for everyone. Some are back at their desks, others are settling in for the latest era of working from home, and others are juggling a combination of the two. Like Patrick, many agree that 2022 is time for a professional wardrobe reset.

“The pandemic has removed the pressure to always look a certain way, all the time,” says digital art strategist JiaJia Fei, who divides her time between her New York apartment and a Dumbo co-working space. “Now dressing is fun again because we do it more selectively. As a result, I’ve taken so many opportunities to purge my wardrobe of the things I don’t wear anymore or bring myself joy to really edit and distill my clothes to the basics. I always enjoy the ritual of getting ready for work the rare times I have face-to-face meetings, and I will do my best to dress as if I were going to an event in my pre-pandemic life.

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In these days of non-virtual obligations, Fei opts for colorful costumes, and she’s not alone. There is a pent-up appetite for embellishment, bold shapes, and striking designs that resonate with buyers in general. Retailers ended the holiday season with “gains of between 8 and 10%”, according to the trade newspaper Daily women’s clothing.

“People have become more confident in dressing more comfortably and more expressively,” says Katherine Greenberg, vice president of womenswear at Neiman Marcus.

The concept of work wear has not been questioned as much as other types of fashion throughout history. The last time professional wardrobes experienced a major upheaval was in the 1850s, when women began to adopt bespoke elements inspired by traditional men’s costumes on a more traditional level.

“When these first American women walked into offices in the mid-19th century wearing their versions of a tailored suit, it was sort of a revolutionary statement as they adopted the uniform of male power and authority.” , explains historian Valerie Steele, museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The pandemic prompted another reassessment of what constitutes proper office attire and, to some extent, accelerated changes that were already underway.

“Before this pandemic we saw people wanting more comfortable clothes and people saying, ‘Well, we really should be allowed to wear jeans at work. We should be allowed to wear flats in some offices, ”Steele adds. “So with the pandemic people wore more and more comfortable sweatshirts, t-shirts, sneakers, to the office once a week and they didn’t meet many people. Now some people are really happy because it’s a chance to get dressed.

Color is no longer just for street style stars. The new office uniform emphasizes self-expression.

Christian VierigGetty Images

Steele is among them. As she traded in her black structured pants and blouses for clothes that didn’t need to go to the dry cleaners during most of the pandemic, she is eager to return to what she calls “maintenance clothes.” raised “.

At Neiman Marcus, Greenberg has seen an increase in demand for brands like Gabriela Hearst, Punto, Lafayette 148 and Veronica Beard as well as casual little day dresses from Trina Turk, Milly, Misa Los Angeles and Cinq à Sept.

Gabriela Hearst Stephanie double-breasted wool blazer

Gabriela Hearst

$ 1,990.00

“Right now our customers are looking for a more relaxed, relevant and versatile wardrobe,” adds Greenberg. “Separate pieces have become more popular because they give women more choices, either to coordinate a matching ensemble or to dress up or down pieces. Knitting continues to be a stylish way to dress more casual looks with denim or leather. And we expect office attire to be more casual than before the pandemic. The collections we love have more options than ever before.

For Fei, this means reclaiming his visual identity in a professional setting. If dressing up makes you feel more like yourself, then why not? Being at ease is intrinsically linked to trust. “Who am I impressing on Zoom these days? Fei jokes. While others celebrate the dress and take special care to ensure that there is a clear separation between the office and home life.

“I sometimes go to the physical office when I have an important meeting,” explains Patrick. “It almost looks like a disguise to put on a costume. Sometimes I feel like I’m pretending to be my old self.

In 2022, putting on a suit at work may no longer want to dress up. In uncertain times in the workplace, a more grown-up wardrobe for the day can be an approach to feeling more comfortable and, well, home there. It might be a hopeful thought, but isn’t that the point of fashion, anyway? Aunt Mame thought so, and today’s more adventurous dressers think so. They’re the ones who swap slumps for structure, sweatshirts for sequins, and swap Zoom tops for ripped outfits from head to toe. Emilie in Paris. Maybe it’s time for the rest of us to follow their lead.

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