Dressing for success doesn’t quit just because we are working from home.
Aug 17, 2020
Working from home has largely become our new normal and while something of a dream for some, this modality of work can also be a challenge for many. Gone are intimate conversations with colleagues around the water cooler, lunchtime strolls spent catching up on the weekends’ activities, and face-to-face meetings. And woefully, gone too are many of our opportunities for getting dressed up and showing off that new look. Being home alone, it’s tempting to stay in pyjamas or sweats all day, but that’s a little uninspired, no?
In fact, there’s even science behind considered work attire: according to some studies, the way you dress for work impacts your level of productivity, affects how your colleagues view you and, most importantly, draws a clear line between your work and home life. “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment,” explains Dr. Karen Pine, fashion psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. “A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it's 'professional work attire' or 'relaxing weekend wear', so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
With that said, it’s time to start adding a little more flair to your work-from-home wear. Besides, if you’re going to throw on something above the waist for that Zoom meeting, you might as well go all the way.
THE PANT SUIT
If there is one workwear staple to commit to even at home, it’s the pant suit. But, forget the stiff, corporate connotations: the new power suit (think bold colors, intricate patterns, unexpected detailing and impeccable craftsmanship) works for everyone. It’s an attention-grabber, one whose strong lines and rich colors are striking enough to jolt the wearer to attention and spur their productivity. Right now, we’re embracing the textured, green stripes of Studio 189’s handwoven green Double-Breasted Blazer and Andy Pants, as well as the brand’s black and white iteration. Pair them with a plain tee in a contrasting color and sneakers for a not so buttoned up look. If you’re really looking to take your at-home uniform up a notch, Emmy Kasbit’s Ojongo Suit Set is the one to choose. Its shades of lavender are as playful as its unexpected flap detail, while its sharp cuts and elegant tailoring are nothing short of masterful.
THE COMFY TEE
With the advent of the sports-luxe trend, the line between loungewear and dressier clothing is becoming increasingly blurred. Sweats aren’t the style blunder they were once considered. Instead they’ve become a street style fixture. And while staying at home calls for comfort, that doesn’t mean remaining in the shirt you slept in all day. Consider Orange Culture’s Owanbe T-Shirt; wrought from mint green, dry lace, the boat-neck style, loose fit is simple and oh-so-easy to wear. There’s also the brand’s Funbi Tunic. Developed in collaboration with Nigerian visual artist Eloghosa Osunde, the short-sleeved, satin garment’s vibrant yellow shade is just the thing to liven up an otherwise dull workday at home. Alternatively, keep things simple in IAMISIGO’s Patched Front T-Shirt, a classic white crew neck whose upcycled black PVC embellishment is a nod to the brand’s mod aesthetic.
No matter your style, the classic button-down is a timeless wardrobe staple. Even if it comes complete with ruching, ruffles, or other bells and whistles, it still manages to maintain its uncomplicated and laid-back styling qualities. This is an item that rarely misses the mark when it comes to looking professional, but, depending on how you style it, can also be the epitome of casual. Far from stuffy or cliché, Mozambican design brand Taibo Bacar’s Black Mandevo Shirt is crafted from a delicate chiffon, artisanally made by local communities, and makes use of nature-inspired prints. If you’re seeking an injection of fun, cue the Orange Culture Half Ojiji Hybrid Shirt. Crafted from hand-dyed pink cotton and Adire chiffon using resist-dyeing techniques, its energetic colors and intriguing quirks (the front of the shirt is asymmetrical) will surely add a little renewed energy to your at-home work routine. Simply partner it with a pair of jeans in a light wash and a pair of leather, slip on sandals for a relaxed air that’s casual enough while still unmistakably polished.
Part shirt, part dress, the shirtdress is the double-duty item that combines the ease of the button-down with the grace of a sundress. The perfect blend of femininity and androgyny, its structured yet fluid quality means that it can be easily dressed up or down. The shirtdresses of Studio 189 are the perfect example of this duality. Featuring classic button fronts and collared necklines, their elaborate patterns reflect traditional West African design, while their soft, cotton form means that they’re as comfortable and airy as they are beautiful. Meanwhile, Zanzibari designer Doreen Mashika’s shirtdresses feature traditional Kanga prints as well as an adjustable waist belt, creating a silhouette that is classically feminine and full. We suggest adding just a simple, slip-on shoe (whether it be an ankle boot, a sneaker, or a sandal) for a chic yet undemanding look.
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re never going to leave the house. Besides, it’s probably in your best interest to hit pause at midday and take an afternoon stroll around your neighbourhood (mask on, please!) for a little fresh air and a caffeine hit. Before you head out, make sure to grab a jacket; besides providing protection from the elements, it’s also an easy way to add a layer of refinement to even the most casual of getups. As far as lightweight options, a classic blazer always serves as the chicest solution. Throw on one of Emmy Kasbit’s Tribal Lace Blazers over a pair of distressed jeans or fitted trousers for a refined look that works whether you’re off or on-duty. If baby pinks and blues are not for you, may we suggest the striking yet feminine tailoring of Kahindo’s Pleated Duster Jacket? Available in a sunny marigold shade, it’s the sort of piece to throw over anything from jeans and a tee, to a casual summer midi dress.
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