The past year and a half saw working from home become the new normal for many. And while some relished in this, it was an exceptional challenge for the more social among us. Gone were face to face chats around the water cooler and lunchtime strolls spent catching up with colleagues, as were any opportunities for putting together and showing off a brand new look. After all, being home alone all day, who could resist the temptation of simply staying in their PJs? But with restrictions easing up in many parts of the world, many of us are prepping for a return to the office and about to bid adieu to dressing only from the waist up for Zoom meetings.
Need a little back-to-work outfit inspiration? Read on to discover the best local designer pieces with which to channel your personal brand of work style.
The Polished Professional
Just like her no-nonsense approach to her work, the Polished Professional is all about fuss-free finesse—and this power pairing by Nigerian designer Emmy Kasbit is the perfect foundation upon which to create a look that means serious business. Whether you’re managing an office, keeping the books in order, or making big decisions from the top, the pencil skirt and tailored shirt combo is a simple and classic workplace-outfit formula, one that looks best with minimal accessorizing. IAMISIGO’s I AM MOUNTAIN earrings provides the slightest touch of sparkle, while Shekudo’s 90s-inspired Oby Mule elevates the ensemble's quiet sophistication. Tie it all together with Thalia Strates' Lenny Messenger Bag for a splash of warm, contrasting cognac and to store everything you need for a productive day at the office.
The Creature of Comfort
Bidding farewell to the work-from-home life has likely been hardest on those who reveled in being able to spend all day in their sweats. But for those for whom comfort and practicality are guiding style principles, all is not lost—particularly when there’s a jumpsuit close by. A fierce, figure-elongating classic, the style is also comfortable, carefree, and ideal for your next in-person meeting or a day spent behind your desk and KikoRomeo’s bright Barah style looks elegantly relaxed paired with Pichulik’s Noor earrings and an oversized tote. Eager to add an element of contemporary cool to your comfort-prioritizing look? Finish it off by stepping into Shekudo’s on-trend Basjia Clog, a chic work shoe compromise for those who’ve become a little too emotionally attached to their indoor slippers.
The Laid-Back Lady
If you’re lucky enough to work in an environment that does not demand you comply with a formal dress code, chances are you’ve long ago embraced a far more casual interpretation of office attire. But don’t for one second think by casual we mean boring because with more and more designers trying their hand at athleisure, laid-back has never looked so good. Take Viviers’ Ombré Tracksuit Trio for example: made up of a boxy roll-neck top, a full-zip jacket, and drawstring pants, it’s given a luxe spin via artisanal craftsmanship and lush fabrics, tastefully pairing with Loza Maléombho’s Black Koh Sandals. Spacious enough to house all your 9-5 essentials, Femi Handbags’ Maxi Maxi Tote in Blue is the ideal workday companion, while Adele Dejak’s gleaming Taji Earrings serve as a subtle yet striking outfit add-on.
The Risk Taker
While the workplace may not traditionally be the ideal place to be taking fashion risks, why try to quell an adventurous spirit? After all, for some, being different, standing out, and taking playful chances are an intrinsic part of their sartorial spirit. With its undulating ruffle chest detail, hand-dyed indigo cotton panels, asymmetrical hemline, and transparent—but still appropriate—tulle base, Nkwo’s Omo Shirt Dress is a statement maker that favors the bold. Wear with a comfortable slide in a vibrant colorway (the Ilamoye style by Shekudo features touches of fringe and tones of orange, green, and white) and allow understated accessory choices like Khokho Collection’s woven Bucket Bag and Patrick Mavros’ Pangolin earrings to temper the ensemble’s drama.
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