Take a virtual stroll through your favorite store and you’ll probably see a “wear-to-work section” filled with monochrome colors, tailored pantsuits, classic button-downs, and the like. And while this is generally due to dress codes at many workplaces, we think life is simply too short for boring clothes. Besides, work environments have become increasingly relaxed with dress code policy, leaving more room for you to get a little more playful; bending the rules where possible. The simplest way to do so? Classic workplace styles cut from unexpected fabrics, offered in head-turning hues, and unexpected twists.
One example is the high-waisted smart trouser, which is always a workplace winner. The style’s high, cinched waist makes for a flattering silhouette and requires minimal effort to deliver maximally chic results. But instead of turning to the standard gray or black iterations, we suggest something a little more unconventional. Orange Culture’s Cinch OC Pants and Petal Waist Pants, cut from lustrous raw silk in bold shades, are ideal choices for an edgier, night-out ensemble, but teaming them with a timeless white collared shirt and black lace up brogues is suitably tempered down styling for that big meeting.
If elegance is your office style language of choice, there’s quite a lot to be said for the Studio 189 Crossroads Mermaid Skirt. Impeccably hand-crafted from cotton made in Accra, Ghana, it's a figure-hugging piece that falls into a dramatic fishtail silhouette that wouldn’t look out of place at a cocktail party. But, pair it with a T-shirt tucked in at the waist, and you’ve got a work-ready look that perfectly balances sophistication and ease.
Speaking of ease—you may think wearing a tracksuit to the office is a no-no, but Viviers’ high fashion, ombre styles put an artisanal spin on the streetwear staple, delivering styles that are as comfy as they are stylish. Available as a yellow and gray set, as well as a blue and brown version; they’re perfect for a day spent toiling away behind your computer.
But if you’re limited by a standard issue uniform on a daily basis, turning to unexpected accessories is the key to unlocking a little sartorial freedom. Even the most basic of office attire can be totally transformed with the help of an electrifyingly coloured luxe handbag or OTT statement earring.
Like a slick designer bag, belts can add a low-lift touch of luxury to any ensemble. Plus, if you like to accentuate your waist, a belt that hits right at the midsection is a great way to draw the eye there. Better yet, it’s the perfect accessory to help to break up blocky outerwear or a loose fitting dress that may form part of your workwear arsenal and if you pick the right style, can serve as both a practical and glamorous add-on. With their gold-plated brass vertebrae-shaped buckle, Jiamini’s Manzoni Spine Belts will instantly liven up your look. Available in both a thin and wide iteration, the handcrafted accessories may not be the most obvious choice for a day at the office, but they possess an undeniable element of elevated elegance and regal drama that will convince you to invest in them for your work and off-duty wardrobe.
IN THE BAG
While the functionality of a classic oversized tote may seem unmatched when it comes to workwear—after all, there’s room for your laptop, a wallet, a packed lunch, a notebook, even an extra pair of shoes—there’s just something about a vintage-meets-modern silhouette that communicates a no-nonsense, get-things-done quality. Take for example the creations of Nigerian brand Femi Handbags. It is noticeably more polished than a big tote. Their Aliyah style is an eccentric spin on the classic doctor’s bag, and its smart, solid structure is lent a dose of vibrance by a strip of multi-color Aso-Oke. The La Petite Ameena II style, meanwhile, will swiftly break up the simplicity of your typical white shirt and trousers combo, its striking snakeskin print and gleaming metal detailing rendering it anything but basic. Then there’s the Volcano Oshu Mini Bag by Yeba. Crafted from bright red, genuine Italian leather and rendered in an eye-catching geometric shape, the standout design is sure to bring a little unexpected flair to the work grind.
One great thing about statement earrings is that no matter the wardrobe you have to work with, they’ll always offer the easiest path toward an outfit that’s a little more elevated. And though gold might be the preferred choice for some when it comes to jewelry, silver earrings pack an equally stylish punch. Patrick Mavros’ Vakadzi Drop Earrings With Black Onyx are one such pair. Their unique triangular Ndoro motif and black onyx beads combine traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics, adding just the right amount of sparkle to a minimalist workday look. If it's a playful take on a staple jewelry shape you’re after, Pichulik’s Black Ouroboros Earring is a timeless style that pairs seamlessly with just about anything. A medium-sized hoop handmade from gold-plated custom brass, wrapped in handwoven wax cotton, and dotted with black glass beads, it effortlessly espouses an air of sophistication.
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