Back in fashion at the office: formal suits are out, casual chic is back
Go back to the office with nothing smart to wear? Or worse, are you so used to wearing joggers at home that you don’t want to go back to evening wear with no stretch?
here no need to panic.
When it comes to getting back to the workplace, Northern Irish style guru Cathy Martin, who was director of Belfast Fashion Week for 15 years, says traditional work clothes are being phased out and casual wear are in order. And all because of the pandemic.
“I think there has been a loosening of our attitudes, but also, fortunately, a loosening in the way clothes are actually tailored, designed and made. So it looks like, from what I understand, tailoring isn’t that formal or strict or restrictive, ”she says.
Martin points out that “while there was already a very slow but general trend towards slightly more casual clothing and leisure, I don’t think anyone anticipated this speed and velocity, which has increased due to the pandemic. “
And she adds, “I think the pandemic put us in this work from home position, a lot of people were refusing to come back and sit in stuffy costumes, male and female.”
No one knows this better than Chris Suitor, a tailor at Suitor Brothers on Upper Arthur Street in Belfast.
“Some guys were ordering jackets from us by mail order just for their Zoom calls,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“We have certainly seen a drop in the number of business suits that we are selling,” he said, adding that “since things have reopened we have seen a bit of improvement but this is certainly nothing like pre-Covid ”.
Men returning to the office – especially younger men, Suitor says – want styles that are easier to wear but, of course, still sartorial.
Dressing in good “armor” is essential for feeling confident – and even though styles do change, that will never change.
Suitor, who has been in the bespoke tailoring business for 30 years, says: “We have definitely seen an improvement in our relaxed and elegant style, which is more of our chinos and jackets.
But, echoing Martin, he adds: “It happened before the pandemic. I think the pandemic has just accelerated it. “
For women, Martin recommends a stylish yet breathable jumpsuit.
“I just think women are getting a lot more casual too, so, you know, even blazers and jeans are a little more common in a lot of industries,” she says.
The pandemic has even given the office a splash of color. “I also see a lot of big box stores and even designer brands still adopting bold colors, and I think that’s a really nice antithesis to what we’ve just been through – the pandemic restrictions and locking. “
She adds, “River Island, for example, has some really nice, bright pink suits and pants, and there is definitely an acceptance of individuality in the workplace. So I think if someone chooses to have pink or purple hair or half pink half purple hair, we culturally accept that much better, then before maybe there were stricter rules. .
And the most significant change according to Suitor? He answers in one word: ties.
“It’s probably most of our business that’s gone down completely,” he says. “Even guys who go to work in suits are now generally open-necked.”
He adds, “We were selling hundreds and hundreds of ties every year and that definitely took a huge plunge. “
But when asked if he thinks the trend away from business suits will continue, he said, “We are confident that will change. He will start to come back on our way.
“For now, it’s definitely more chino, jacket and casual shirt than a business suit,” he says. “I think the business suit is still there, but definitely had the pause button pressed. Hope we will return.
“If you’re going to a managerial position, I’d rather the guys wear suits and be pointy rather than wearing chinos, an open-neck shirt and a jacket,” he says.
“It’s just me and my traditional outlook, but I totally understand why guys want to be more comfortable in what they wear – I totally understand, and I’m very happy to facilitate that. . “
Martin has other ideas, however.
“While I do appreciate an LBD (little black dress) every now and then for a business event,” she says, “I also agree that people were asking for a lot more comfort.”
So, has the office style changed for good? “100%,” she says. “I don’t think we’re going to turn back time any time soon.”
And maybe it’s even for a good reason: durability.
“Myself and probably hundreds of thousands of others ended up cleaning our closets when we were locked up,” Martin says. “I think a lot of people realized how many things they had in their closet that they weren’t actually wearing, so we know statistically that it increased the number of donations when the charity stores reopened.
“But I think it also made people realize how many clothes we all have and how many we actually need, which is a lot less.”