Here’s how to get your hybrid work looks right. Photos courtesy of Neiman Marcus
With hybrid work schedules becoming the norm and people slowly creeping back into the office, the way we dress for work has been forever altered.
For a large percentage of the workforce, desks being packed up for what was going to be a two-week isolation period coincided with three-piece suits being shoved to the backs of closets, unnecessary for the foreseeable future. A very long two weeks (meaning three years) later, with hybrid work schedules in full swing, we are beginning to see trickles of traditional corporate activity: office days, in-person interviews, and the resumption of networking events.
“I think the flexibility to be able to pull yourself together and still be professional is important.”
–Rob Schaefer, Senior Group Manager, Neiman Marcus
But just as the business world has changed and adapted, so has office fashion — along with the notion of what constitutes appropriate office wear. Rob Schaefer, senior group manager of jewelry, beauty, handbags, and shoes at Neiman Marcus Westchester, has watched this landscape shift firsthand. Schaefer offers up his professional opinion on what’s hot, what’s not, and what you should never wear during a Zoom meeting (we’re looking at you, baseball caps).
Don’t Be Afraid to Incorporate Color
Runways across the world are showing trends of every colorway you can imagine. While you may not have to strut your stuff to the copy machine, adding little pops of color can positively affect your mood. “Something our clients resonate with, especially what you’re seeing on the runway, is just being inspirational,” Schaefer explains. “Color provides that inspiration, that happiness that gets somebody out of bed and able to get dressed and feel good going to work.” Adding an accent color is also the quickest way to freshen up a wardrobe. Not quite ready to be so bold? Schaefer recommends pairing that pop underneath a gray or black jacket.
Have a Structured Blazer Ready to Go
There is one piece of clothing that has stood the test of time: the blazer. Having a solid rotation in your closet is an investment that’s worth your money, says Schaefer. And these are not your parents’ jackets, shoulder pads and all, as emerging designers are jumping on this trend while they can. “It doesn’t always have to be a notched collar; it could be a jewel neck or a three-quarter sleeve; it could have a ruffled shoulder or mixed-media buttons.” Blazers with jeans or cropped pants are your new every-day go-to combo. Key brands to seek out include Nanushka and Brunello Cucinelli.
Casual Doesn’t Mean Sloppy
There is no shame in the hidden-sweatpants Zoom game, provided your on-camera self is polished. Being too comfortable at home is a habit that it may be time to break, especially for those new to the workforce. “I think working remotely shouldn’t be confused with working from home,” says Schaefer. While he says we’ve grown up a lot since the initial work-from-home time frame, it’s important to remember that we’re still in front of clients and colleagues on Zoom meetings. While that waist-up look can be a more casual one, taking pride in one’s appearance, like doing your hair and makeup or being clean-shaven (or groomed if you have facial hair) leads to a more intentional workday. Oh, and absolutely no baseball caps in business meetings.
Finding Flexibility in the Aftermath
What’s become comforting for many is that businesses are accepting a perpetual “casual Friday.”
“I think the flexibility to be able to pull yourself together and still be professional is important. It doesn’t mean that I’m looked at any less because I’m not wearing a suit to the office every day,” explains Schaefer. What’s being seen now on runways is a deviation from that uber-structure. Peserico is a favorite brand of Schaefer’s for the way it blurs the line between business casual and a night on the town.
Additionally, the textiles in play now are less of the stiff variety (known to anyone who’s been in a department store dressing room) and more natural fibers. “I think now more than ever, luxury comes in so many shapes and forms, and it’s not a price point,” Schaefer explains about navigating clothes racks during this transitional period. “We really do see the value of just being yourself in doing whatever feels like fashion.”