In today’s ever-changing business environments, deciding what to wear as workwear is no small feat. When a typical daily schedule involves a formal presentation in front of the CEO followed by a casual meeting in a design agency, it can be difficult to choose what to wear to work.
However, as an increasing emphasis is being placed on showing individualism in the office, there are more opportunities than ever to inject a little personality into your weekday wardrobe.
Subverting the status quo is trickiest in a corporate environment. Office wear for women often involves stuffy trouser suits reminiscent of those worn by Hillary Clinton, while men are restricted to jazzing up their office outfits with a pair of colourful socks.
Instead of opting for restrictive two-pieces, women can brighten up a black tuxedo jacket and cigarette pants with jewel-toned heels and a slick of vermillion lipstick. The Sartorialist favourite Caroline Issa provided a template for this look when she sported iridescent pink peep-toe T-bars with a masculine dark-grey suit and an Anya Hindmarch fur coat at AW15's Paris Fashion Week.
For work-appropriate tailoring and crisp lines with an androgynous edge, Prada is the classic choice.
Men can break out of the black and grey mould with subtle prints and patterns. A jacket with a Prince of Wales check and a pair of brown men's brogues, as seen on D&G model David Gandy, will add a traditional yet fashion-forward twist to a corporate ensemble.
The visual nature of the design agency means your daily outfit is a way to display your personal and professional brand. As well as acting as a source of inspiration, your work wear is a way of showcasing your aesthetic to potential clients.
Smart-casual ensembles in understated hues with splashes of colour are ideal for the design agency. Women can try patterned oversized trousers or work dresses in soft silks teamed with structured jackets in monochromes. Alternatively, take inspiration from Marc Jacobs' SS16 ready-to-wear collection and brighten up smart charcoal trousers with a ruffled blouse in a pretty pastel shade.
For men, eschew the traditional tie and think Robert Downey Jr in expertly tailored suits finished off with roguish scarves in a variety of colours.
While design agencies are characterised by a natural quirkiness and creativity, the PR office is an entirely different beast. Your outfits need to adapt to everything from handling client meltdowns to black-tie events.
Become your own brand by adopting work wear in a particular style. Channel Jenna Lyons, Creative Director and President of J.Crew, who projects professionalism but has a penchant for turning trends on their heads with tailored trousers, playful tops and those distinctive thick-rimmed glasses. She mixes androgyny with a soft edge, often utilising ruffles and pearls to give her ensembles a distinctive and instantly recognisable aesthetic.
For men, form-fitting trousers and a low-key top can take you from a day at the office to a night of networking. Yohji Yamamoto T-shirts showcase the brand's urban and witty style with offbeat icons and understated colours.
Avant-Garde Art Studio
At the art studio, aim for a laid-back but highly curated look. Artists often infuse outfits with references to their signature work. Take Tracey Emin, exuding unkempt cool in faded jeans and structured jackets, or Yayoi Kusama, carrying the spots from her enigmatic sculptures into her clothing. Polka dots pepper the Comme des Garçons Play collection and will make a whimsical addition to any artist’s studio.
To add a similarly directional – yet light-hearted – edge to daily work wear, Carven for men is imbued with a sports-luxe style. The juxtaposition of relaxed items such as jumpers and sweatpants in electrifying colours and irreverent graphic prints can be utilised to form the basis for simple but unforgettable outfits.
Jobs in the media often require work clothes for women that exude a sartorially savvy effortlessness. In terms of style icons, Solange Knowles offers a contemporary alternative to the traditional suit with her preference for bold blazers, often worn with matching shorts or trousers. As for designers, Carolina Herrera has led the way with the matchy-matchy ensembles at her SS16 show. The collection featured ladylike lace and jacquard twin sets in cough-drop colours, such as pinky orange and lemon yellow, as well as oversized floral prints.
Men who are pondering what to wear as workwear at a media agency can inject a modern sensibility into a passé desk-side style by pairing a classic suit with streamlined trainers.