C-Suite Advisory

How to manage to return back to the office after an extensive WFH period

When it comes to dressing for work in 2021, there are a myriad of scenarios to plan for the slow shift away from working from home and the regression of our introvert selves being just two. As offices begin to tentatively reopen, and our social and work calendar starts to fill up, our thoughts have inevitably turned back to our work wardrobes.

While some of us were itching to return to our office as fast as humanly possible, many others are feeling quite anxious about it. After spending so much time working from home and developing a new routine and way to work, the thought of swapping out your stretchy pants and 3-day old unwashed tee for appropriate office wear might be quite a daunting thought.

So, what do I wear now?

Some may be looking at their closet in shock, staring at the suits and shirts lining its walls, thinking how foreign these items have become.  It may even feel uncomfortable and strange to put these garments back on again. However, just like riding a bike, even if it has been years between cycles, once you hop back on the corporate dress wagon you will forget you ever hopped off. It might even be an empowering feeling getting back into your corporate wear – don’t be surprised if you feel an extra bounce in your step! This change in energy and attitude is power dressing in its greatest form.  Just like superman or superwoman, once you throw on that cape (or in this case, business suit or shirt) you will feel like you can conquer the world.

In fact, one of the most concerning impacts of COVID-19 has been the steady rise in mental health issues. With the loss of in-person interactions and the feeling of confinement after constantly being at home, many have lost the passion and excitement that comes as a part of dressing up for an occasion. The excitement of slipping on a new pair of heels or freshly pressed crisp business shirt in preparation for the day ahead really sets the tone and is an additional tool to help you tackle your hectic schedule. So, whilst the thought of dressing back up for work in the office may be a scary a one, your inner self will thank you for it.

It may also be helpful to spend some time preparing and thinking about what your return to office look needs to represent. For some, this is the realisation that they are no longer required to be super formal in their dress, and that smart casual attire is actually a far better fit with company and brand expectations.

Here are a few Tips and Tricks to help you create your back to work wardrobe:

For the Gents:

  • Style your navy suit blazer with a pair of khaki or taupe chinos
  • Wear your crisp blue shirt with your suit pants and roll up the sleeves.
  • Style your checked shirt and tie with a chino and sports jacket

For the Ladies:

  • A Blazer, blouse and jeans may work in your space
  • A shirt dress with heels for those more formal days
  • Or your Skinny suit pant with a shirt tucked in, ballet flats and sleeves rolled.

The world has changed and so have the old rules. This wardrobe reset is a great way to refresh and rethink your look in line with the image you would like to represent. This doesn’t mean a complete wardrobe overhaul, nor the need for a shopping spree. In most instances you can restyle your existing corporate items to take on a more casual flair that ensures you are comfortable for your transition back into the office while still looking like you can take on whatever is thrown your way.

Written by Pamela Jabbour. Have you read?
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Pamela Jabbour
Pamela Jabbour is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group - Uniform designer and manufacturer to some of Australia’s leading brands such as Dan Murphy’s and Fantastic Furniture. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, Total Image dresses over 300,000 Australians per day in their work wardrobe. Pamela Jabbour is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.