Tips on what to wear back to the office

Your work wardrobe hasn’t lifted a finger in more than a year and a half, and why should it?  

Since March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic forced office spaces to close, our business suits, dress shoes, ties, fitted dresses and skirts have done nothing more than hover on hangers gathering dust in the closet. 

But now that you’re heading back to your office, do you throw on those same old clothes? (And honestly, do they fit? We’re looking at you, COVID-19 weight gain). 

And friends, it’s not just the abandoned workwear at issue, there is another uncomfortable reality as offices begin to reopen and employees are called back to their desks. 

If we’re honest, we’ve become attached to our work-from-home, anything goes wardrobe. The elastic waistbands, billowy tops, super soft sweats and flip flops now feel like familiar old 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and beyond) friends.

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Must we break off our new relationship with stretchy fabrics and comfy footwear only to pick up where we left off with our stiff, scratchy old workhorse wardrobe over a year and a half ago?

If your robust COVID-19 pounds waistline is screaming “no,” you’ll be relieved to learn that while appearance still matters, subtle cozy changes to professional clothing are the back-to-office trend.   

More than two-thirds of American consumers plan to change their wardrobe from pre-pandemic styles when they return to the office, according to Klarna Bank AB, a retail bank, payments and shopping service, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in May. Nearly half expect to wear more comfortable clothes, though women are more likely to dress up than men.

2. Wear clothes with a tight waistband     It's tempting to change from your night pajamas to your day pajamas. Few other types of clothing are more comfortable. But the comfort is a slippery slope. Pajamas don't show you if you are gaining weight. So put on regular work clothes -- or at least jeans, pants, or skirts that are tight around the waist -- to make sure they still fit. If the clothes get tighter, that may be the wakeup call you need to start exercising or be mindful of what you eat.    ALSO READ: 28 Weight Loss Myths That Pack on Pounds

“You don’t have to dress in a coat and tie to look good,” said Jim Porter with Rodes for Him boutique in Louisville. “Business suits are long gone and they are not coming back. But you still need to look sharp.”

Here’s what the fashion experts say men and women should wear as we head back to the office in 2021. 

Can you ditch the office dress code? 

Back to the office attire will be more casual after the pandemic but also stylish and sharp. The Canali Spring collection exclusively at Rodes For Him

In short, no. Office dress codes aren’t just created to make employees conform. Companies set dress codes to help us come across as professional, capable, believable, and knowledgeable.

“It’s important to keep in mind as you go back into the office that the business where you work wants you to present yourself in the best way possible because you are a part of their image to the public,” said fashion expert Jo Ross. “A polished, neat appearance establishes that.”