When shelter-in-place orders went into effect in 2020, many people left their daily commutes, cubicles, and—needless to say—their work wardrobes behind. For more than a year, slacks were replaced with sweatpants, dress shoes and high heels were swapped for slippers, and blazers collected dust in closets worldwide.
Now that restrictions have relaxed and the professional world is embracing a new hybrid working model, it’s unlikely that our sweatpants are going to cut it for board meetings and beyond. That said, the rigid dress codes of yesteryear seem more irrelevant now than ever, and workspaces are embracing a more flexible vibe in terms of workwear.
Depending on your style, and (obviously) your line of work, we’ve rounded up a few independent business options for client-facing meetings, hybrid schedules, and easing back into the world of waistbands.
To cover your face
Depending on your office policy (and your vaccination status), you may be required to wear a mask at the office. Instead of sporting a common mask, support a woman-owned business and opt for Edited / Projects' variety of bandanas. The EP Bandana has an abstract minimalist design while Two-Tone Bandana adds a tie-dye pop of color and paisley print for added personality.
“I decided to first launch with bandanas given it was a personal favorite accessory of mine and due to timing, it was something I saw a major need for,” says founder Erika Djerf who, after 11+ years in the fashion industry, saw a missing link between brands and their communities. This inspired the brand to partner with local businesses, artists, and community members.
“Consumers loved the idea of always having a bandana on with the ability to use it as a face covering when needed,” she says.
If returning to the office isn’t jarring enough, going out after work can create stress if you aren’t sure what to wear. Thankfully, Walter Baker offers stylish dresses that are appropriate for the office and cute for date night, too. If the AC is on overdrive in your cubicle (or at the bar), throw on a leather Allison Jacket to keep goosebumps at bay. Speaking of transitions, Baker began his career in finance and worked on Wall Street before making a change to fashion. His first signature label was called WALTER (in the early '90s), and today Walter Baker has famous fans including Katy Perry and Rihanna.
Jumpsuits in a hurry
While some of us have been sticking to a regimented, work-friendly sleep schedule, many are rolling out of bed and turning on our computers just in time for the first meeting of the day (hey, no judgement here!). Given that time might be tight between morning rituals and commuting, an Alyson Eastman Crema Jumpsuit with a crop pant and leather belt will keep you looking sharp—especially if you didn’t have the patience or energy to match a top and bottom in the early hours.
“Jumpsuits are wonderful because you can throw them on and accessorize and you are out the door,” says founder and namesake Alyson Eastman. “You can wear them in so many ways, dressing them up with a heel or boots and also dressing it down for a more casual look with your favorite sneaker or loafer.”
In short: it's a look that can be repeated in many different ways. Speaking of sustainability, the brand only uses fair-wage factories in Italy and New York, producing limited quantities to ensure less waste.
“I started designing with leather because, in my opinion, it is one of the most sustainable materials you can use when sourced correctly, she says. “We source all of our materials from food-source leather so it is a byproduct of the food industry.”
If you’re striking a balance between working from the office and working from home, Campo Collection Pajama Sets will be your go-to for days spent on the couch (ahem—your at-home desk). With styles for men and women, the matching tops and bottoms are made for comfort, but they also look professional up top with styles ranging from collared shirts to ribboned tops to v-necks. Now you can take important Zoom meetings with the camera on, without having to change clothes (or getting out of bed for that matter). While you may be slow-moving in the morning, it’s important to know that the label is committed to a “slow fashion” sustainable design practice (ethically sourced and produced locally). Another fun fact: the brand’s founder, Cinthia Boni Cordioli, was born in São Paulo, and the company’s name means “field” in Portuguese.
Offsite bonding attire
With the return of office hours comes inevitable, inescapable, and “fun” team bonding sessions. (Okay, okay—sometimes it can be fun to hang with your co-workers.) These excursions, whether they include drinks at a dive bar, a hike, or a corporate field day, require something a bit more casual (but not too casual. Hint: leave the sweats at home).
Enter: The Golden Cod, founded by wife-and-husband team Robbin and Jeff Mangano in August 2020. Paying homage to New England’s fishing industry, it offers unisex crewnecks, unisex t-shirts, and totes, too (just in case you have to carry a laptop around for those work-related emergencies). On another heartwarming note, the Scituate, MA-based couple chooses local artists to make their products and a portion of their proceeds benefit the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association.
No pants, no problem
Made by women for women, Mother Oxford shirts and shirt dresses are built to sustain spills, messes, and more. Perfect for anyone looking to sport a professional look (whether they’re a mom or not), The Shirtdress extends a classic style that doesn’t require pants. No pants = less time getting ready in the morning and no concerns about what fits and what doesn’t after months of joggers and elastic waistbands. Fittingly, founder Lydia Kutko defines motherhood on her own terms and her favorite quote is one by Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Cheers to that.
Gone are the days of carrying around large bags or briefcases. If you’re going to the office—and leaving your computer and work materials there—transfer your essentials into a fanny pack. Masai Crossbody Slingbag has an adjustable belt and two zip compartments that can hold your keys, wallet, phone, and office ID, while showing off your unique style and personality. After all, joy dressing is about expression and making you smile! With a love for Hawaii, owner and designer Mikaela Papon incorporates colors, patterns, and elements inspired by the islands. We already feel empowered by the Brooklyn-based mom who enjoys traveling and looks good doing it!
The days of going barefoot during the workday may be behind us. That said, there are upsides to wearing cozy, comfortable, knit socks (besides showing respect to your coworkers). Province of Canada's Everyday Sock is available in five colors and for every sock purchased, a pair is donated to a Canadian homeless shelter. Not only will you be keeping warm, you’ll be doing something altruistic, too. Founders Julie Brown and Jeremy Watt met in Montreal in 2005. After getting married, the couple decided to quit their jobs and launch a brand that solely sold Canadian products. Operating since 2014, the company has evolved into offerings for the home, kids, and adults (including socks for a good cause).
Indoor and outdoor eyewear
While staring at a screen isn’t ideal, if you have the opportunity to work on your laptop outside: take it! Between new glasses and new sunglass styles, DIFF Eyewear has a range of frame shapes and colors to choose from. Not only will you impress coworkers with your chic shades designed in Southern California, but you can also share fun facts: the three brand founders (Zach Gordan, Chad Jernigan, and Chad Dime) started off as business competitors who ultimately decided to collaborate. Not to mention, they’ve donated 1.5 million pairs of reading glasses to individuals in need. How’s that for team spirit and charity?
A softer side
In 2017, Sabrina Zohar’s mother was diagnosed with six brain aneurysms. During her recovery treatments, she yearned for something soft to wear, which inspired the creation of Software. The Brooklyn-based brand makes bright, cheerful, and sustainable tanks, tees, joggers, pullovers. and more for men and women. For casual Fridays, sick days, or anything in between, items like the Unisex Hoodie Marigold Tie Dye offer a hug of buttery soft fabric.