How do I dress for office work?

Animation: The cut

My first day ever at the Cut, I showed up at the office wearing a dress that I thought projected authority and good taste. It consisted of a pleated Comme des Garçons skirt with black and white polka dots that reached the ankles and Manolo Blahnik sandals in black satin with bows. I had bought both of these second hand items with money I probably didn’t have and had worn them prior to my previous job at Condé Nast, where they went largely unnoticed, which in that context was a good thing.

“Aw, that’s so cute you dressed up for your first day!” one of my new colleagues cooed when we were introduced. I was mortified. Clearly, I would have misread the room.

Over the next several years, I dressed relatively casually for the office. So coincidentally, in fact, my work uniform from home wasn’t all that different during the pandemic, apart from the days when I wear sweaters or pajamas. He’s back in the office again rather anticlimactic, from a fashion point of view; I put on the same jeans and sweaters I used to and run out the door. I admit there was a moment when I asked myself: Do I need to try something new? Perhaps this was an opportunity for reinvention. A restyling! But in the end, I decided it was too much work.

This is just my personal experience, of course. The way we work and our relationship with it has changed dramatically in recent years, so it would make sense to change office dress codes as well. This is a question that many of you have asked. The One Cut reader wrote: “I’m back in the office after two years of working in sweat – help!” You want to be comfortable but professional. You want to be able to commute, but not on the subway. Many of you have started new jobs remotely and don’t want to make the same mistake I did when meeting everyone in person for the first time. Or you are starting in a company with a different culture than your previous one.

I hear you, but I’m afraid I can’t offer a lot of specific advice because no job is the same, even within the same company. What you wear to work depends on what you do and who you are as a person. I am a fashion writer who sits in front of the computer all day, but I also happen to want to dress like the head of a pasta empire.

So I take the liberty of asking a different question: What do you want to get out of the office? Maybe you just want to get in and out, or maybe you want to indulge a certain side of your personality. For me, my goal when I enter work is to interact with my colleagues and I have learned that one of the best and easiest ways to do this is to compliment them. This is not difficult; they are all very elegant. But because interactions in the office are so fleeting – a brush in the kitchen or on the way to the bathroom – sometimes all you have time for is a “Love yours. [blank]! ” and comments only the first thing that catches the eye. What I’m trying to say is: dress in a way that allows your colleagues to compliment you more easily. Everyone wins and who knows, maybe your interaction will turn into a longer conversation, for example, about your trip to the West where you got those crazy cowboy boots.

Accessories are the fastest way to a compliment, in my experience. They are low risk for both parties, and if you wear them often enough, they start to become yours what, which can also be useful in an office environment. (I’m working on becoming a person with red lipstick, for example. Oh, that’s Emilia, her THEwears red lipstick.) A colorful hair clip is a good place to start, or perhaps a chunky gold necklace. Funky blue light glasses are also very 2022. One thing we learned from masks during the pandemic is how much you can telegraph on yourself with a very small object.

Here are some things I’ve been complimenting my colleagues for recently and maybe you can try too.

Chessboard claw clip

This checkered print hair clip wearing our feature editor always catches my eye. He said he saw it in our Christmas gift guide, so we’re influencing each other here. I appreciate the touch of 90s playfulness it brings to the office.

Calle Laura Lombardi Gold Necklace

If you are someone like me who wears a lot of monochromatic, jewelry can help add some style. I recently saw our photo director wearing a chunky gold necklace and I wanted one for myself.

Ganni mesh turtleneck

Two of my colleagues wore printed mesh turtlenecks on their first day back to the office, so that means it’s basically a trend. They are ideal if you have to go somewhere for a drink after work.

APC denim shirt

Wearing jeans to work can seem too casual at times. But a denim shirt? Now that’s it fashionable.

Lucchese Carson cowboy boots

One of my colleagues was inspired by the Commission’s recent lookbook, which showed that New Yorkers can also wear cowboy boots. Between them and denim shirts, the office is truly the Wild Wild West.

Hanifa Zoe Boot

If you’re not the cowboy boot type, my colleague on the fashion team also says these boots are comfortable enough to be worn all day and out after work at night.

Theory boy's jacket in soft twill

Everyone is always looking for the perfect work blazer. I recently complimented one of my Vulture colleagues on this because he was extraordinarily oversized. He warned me that Theory was making a sale. Teamwork!

House of Sunny Day Tripper cardigan

This cardigan has been laying on the back of someone’s desk near the photo department for some time now, so if you’re the owner and reading this: love your sweater! Cardigans are a comfortable alternative to blazers, and as this person has demonstrated, they can be left at your desk when the AC is too stiff.

The Butler M54 integral sneaker

I appreciate when people wear “dress shoes” or “dress pants” to the office instead of jeans and trainers. My colleague at Strategist waltzed in one day wearing these and looked ready to get things done. I was impressed, even more so when he told me they were tailored to his feet. OK boss!

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