Many of us have spent the last two years in zoom meetings looking semi-professional from the waist up and ultra-casual from the waist down. Sweats, pajamas, leggings, and slippers were the virtual dress code, and we all became quite comfortable with our remote rags.
As the world begins to open and hybrid working, in-person meetings, and the old 9-to-5 become a thing once again, we’re left asking ourselves, “What should I wear?” While we were all quite familiar with the pre-March 2020 corporate style that existed before everything changed, as we step out from the comfortable confines of our homes and ease back into office mode, many of us haven’t a clue as to what works for the office in 2022.
When it comes to dressing for the new corporate normal there’s a lot of confusion about what’s acceptable and appropriate. Whether you call it “power caj,” “business comfortable,” or “working leisure, ” career wardrobing has changed dramatically in the last two and a half years and some might say, it’s been a long time coming. Sure, no one wanted lockdown to last forever, but there seems to be a huge consensus that we’d all prefer to keep the dress code as-is indefinitely.
While we’re not saying it’s time to toss sheath dresses, Sex and the City heels, and overly-tailored anything into the donation pile, as less-structured “polished comfort” pairs with pieces that pay a homage to Mad Men-esq clothes once worn to the office, a fashion-meets-function spin has come into focus.
Ease back into office life in a super easy and effortless slip dress like this one from @l2rthelabel.
And it’s not just about comfort, there seems to be a trend toward using clothing as a way of self-expression. While we might be heading back to common spaces, the desire to look uncommon grows.
Sensible pumps have been replaced by funky platforms, basic black dresses have given way to jazzier jumpsuits, and long-overdue-for-a change briefcases have moved over for fun all-in-one totes. Statement pieces say a lot about the way the office worker in 2022 wants to hold on a bit more to our individuality as we make our way back to the confines of the office.
And the proof is extending all the way to the boardroom where there’s been a shift from stiff structured suiting. Execs (with the exception of lawyers and government-worker-types) are throwing graphic tees under blazers, ditching ties, and replacing oxfords with expensive sneakers.
This, my friend, is the new world of work dressing.
How business is responding
Retailers that once peddled traditional “corporate” attire are reimagining their buying strategies to cater to the needs of today’s office workers, tempting their customer base with professional gear that speaks a brand new corporate language.
Still, not everyone headed back to the office is demanding a drastic change in the dress code. According to Linkedin, 47% of female and non-binary full-time workers in the U.S. are looking forward to getting dressed up for work again, while much of that same demographic is comfortable incorporating personal style into their career wardrobe.
The good news is that there's a happy medium in 2022.
Choose Pieces That Spark Joy
Struggling to get even a tiny bit excited about exchanging your home office for your old cubicle? Try channeling your inner Marie Kondo and create a career wardrobe that sparks some much-needed joy.
Fashion is about self-expression, and post-pandemic, your office attire should reflect that. Wear colors and textiles that bring you joy, like a Kermit-the-frog green maxi, exaggerated patterned suiting, wide-leg jeans, an easy-to-throw-on jumpsuit, a playfully patterned denim jacket, or an upcycled embellished tank dress.
For more saucy flair, top your look off with a funky hat, 6” platforms, or ethnically inspired statement accessories.
Comfort is Key
After spending – and becoming accustomed — to working hard surrounded by softer things like fluffy slippers, comfy couches, and perfectly-fitting leggings, comfort is key to making the transition from your home back to the office easier.
During the days of lockdown, athleisure was everything. Incorporating that style into office-appropriate looks is definitely part of the transition.
Jumpsuits and maxi-dresses that can be effortlessly thrown on, dressed up or dressed down, accessorized with fun jewelry and paired with either a heel or flat, depending on your schedule and mood, are key wardrobing essentials.
Take Your Denim to Work Day
We've spent the past 2 years focusing on what looks good on top for online meetings, but as we transition back into the office, more focus is being placed on what we’re wearing from the waist down. Once reserved for weekends and college coeds, a good work wardrobe in 2022 starts with denim.
One step above sweats and leggings, dungarees are a great way to transition back to actual buttons and zippers.
It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of regular ol’ blue jeans + another 10,000 for the washing and dyeing process. Enter the @l2rthelabel world of regenerated and rescued denim, using only remnants and unused material. Every single piece follows a closed-loop process as every scrap of leftover is repurposed into bags or belts.
Break Out the Blazer
Still withstanding the test of corporate time, from brunch to the boardroom, blazers are one of the most versatile items in any career wardrobe. Elevating a pair of jeans and a crisp white tee in an instant, blazers are undoubtedly one of the most essential pieces to have in your back-to-work arsenal.
But in 2022, blazers are taking on a whole new look with unabashed mismatched patterns, bold and daring colors, and fabrications like never before. Brands like L2R are turning these once reserved, wool, and tweed overcoats into one-of-a-kind statement pieces that turn any outfit into a career climbing machine. As silk, studs, and brights take the place of tweed, wool, and browns, the blazer has become the new power piece for Fall 2022.
The Power of Suits
The pandemic made comfort a priority in all aspects of life, and that didn't change with the return to the office. A seamless transition from loungewear, power suits strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and comfort. Available in a range of bright colors, from structured and tailored to oversized and boxy, the power suit is at the top of the list of go-to trends forecasted for the coming fall season.
Having one great power suit that’s perfect for everything from conferences, and speaking engagements to working lunches and weekly in-person stuff meetings is a 2022 wardrobe essential.
The most versatile purchase you can make this year as you head back to the office, power suit pieces can be worn together for a perfectly put-together look or mixed and matched with other wardrobe separates. A wise investment in your career wardrobe for years to come, you can create a multitude of outfits from just one suit.
Pair a power jacket over wide-leg jeans, a crisp white work shirt, and combat boots; throw a denim jacket over a pair of tailored trousers for a career caj look, or add a statement bag and hat to a completely suited outfit to create a bit of personalized pizazz.
Conversation Pieces that Make a Statement
If returning to the office has you tempted to call in sick, a great outfit can make for an awesome cure. Go-to statement pieces that can be tossed over sweats to run errands or head to a quick in-person meeting elevate loungewear to career wear in an instant.
Get back into the after-work routine with fun conversational pieces like this Patchwork Coat (for mom and daughter) by @l2rthelabel
While layering isn't a new concept, piecing together items that once seemed to be from opposite ends of the fashion spectrum to create a somehow cohesive look adds an unexpected twist to career dressing.
Blending different textiles like sheers and opaques or fine knit and chunky knits, mixing the softness and drape of a layered knit with a contrasting tailored broad jacket, mixing proportions of multiple-length tops with below-the-knee skirts, and pairing micro-minis with to-the-ankle shirt dresses catapults fashion out of the pre-2020 style “dark ages” into the new working universe.
Your own individual style is what makes you fashionable and a great denim jacket is an essential piece in every wardrobe! This @l2rthelabel denim jacket is a unique statement piece, made even more special with handmade pearls and details.
Pretty in the Pink
Ditching the little black dress for a hot pink midi is another sign of the back-to-the-office times.
Making their way from traditional spring and summer runways into fall and winter collections in 2022, eye-catching monochromatic pinks are a game-changing indicator that the age-old seasonal color rules were in dire need to be broken. A juxtaposition of the darker colorways, synonymous with autumn and winter, with brighter warm-weather hues, is a trend popping up in everything from accessories, shoes, and jewelry to dresses, outerwear, and layering pieces.
Cut in a lightweight lustrous silk fabric with intricate shapes and patterns, this baby pink dress by l2rthelabel is sharply pleated for beautiful movement and casual career style.
Retro fashion trends are re-emerging in 2022 and statement headwear is forecasted to be everywhere. From bucket hats, jeweled barrettes, and wild print kerchiefs to mismatched headbands and bejeweled caps, it’s easy to elevate any work outfit with great statement headwear.
YOLO is the first word that comes to mind when looking at this beautiful person walking her way through the day in the Opera Coat in Blue Satin-Duchess by @l2rthelabel. Life is to be lived fully and going back to work doesn't mean that mindset has to stop. Keep your creative juices flowing from home to office in unique pieces that complement your simplest errands and your most extravagant adventures.
Prints tell a story about where you've been, where you're going, and how much fun you had while you were there. And bolder is better in 2022 with mixed patterns, animal motifs, and monochromatic print outfits taking a seat at the boardroom table.
“Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: ‘what do I want to do every day for the rest of my life?
Do THAT.” - Gary Vaynerchuk. This maximalist print skirt from L2R takes colors and patterns to an all-new level.
Because very little separation now exists between where you work and where you live, people are taking style into their own hands and making choices based on more than what runways and magazines dictate. Comfort, sustainability, and price are outweighing famous high-end labels in today’s corporate environment.
L2R’s Oversized Green Utility Coat with Animal Print Patchwork brings an unconventional elegance to an everyday essential piece. Cut like an oversized shirt, this layering piece embraces luxe with the combination of fabric and accessories.
And finally…. Bag the brief
Move over leather corporate briefcases and make room for great oversized totes like this one from L2R, a completely unique upcycled piece made entirely from scraps and leftover fabrics.