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The changing face of workwear

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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If ever there was a shift in workwear attitudes, it is now. The classic suit, a uniform of the corporate workplace, of convention, formality, and of the three-button shirt and tie variety, is practically a museum piece.

In a shift to staying-at-home style, brands are having to update classic tailoring and formal workwear with the more relaxed codes of loungewear, comfort dressing and the professional-yet-relaxed attire known as business casual.

Company dress requirements have long loosened the obligatory neck tie and jacket, but none has impacted corporate dressing more than the current crisis, which has prevented commuters from working in offices and transformed working wardrobes to what is practical and comfortable.

Clothing for multi end uses

The home is now both office and place of all round dwelling: we eat, sleep, work, teach our kids, socialize (a little) and exercise from home. This hasn’t removed a desire to have smart clothes, but rather highlighted the change to functional and multiple end uses.

As economies around the world re-open and businesses slowly see their employees return to work, tailoring brands designed to reflect the changing habits will spring to the fore. Blazers that can be worn on their own without a need for matching trousers; fabrics that are comfortable without being restrictive; items that aren’t over-designed but appeal for their timeless quality. Versatility is mixing casual and formal, like wool trousers with a drawstring or elasticated waist.

For many work mode and home mode remain blurred, which is a reason companies like Birkenstock have seen an uptick in sales during the pandemic. Nobody needs to put on a pair of heels if they’re just walking to the garden gate. Similarly, unstructured, breathable and tactile fabrics are preferable for easy dressing over stiff, strict and structured fashion. As athleisurewear continues to dominate wardrobe choices, what is truly essential has taken on a new meaning.

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Image via Birkenstock