It’s been a long time since we’ve needed to smarten up: those working from home have likely been wearing jersey for four straight months, and when pubs opened, a sundress and canvas trainers were our go-to. But now, as lockdown eases and, from August 1st, some of us begin to head back to our workplaces, we’re in need of something elevated to show office-face.
The last time we were properly getting dressed for work, it was a completely different season, so trench coats, trouser suits, ankle boots and fine knits were in high rotation. Now that we’re in high summer, your working wardrobe will need a mini overhaul to ensure you’re not left sweltering on the bus, or, shivering at your desk thanks to over-enthusiastic air conditioning.
Handily, there are only 6 pieces you need to be back-to-work ready.
A linen shirt
Short sleeved shirt, £80, Jigsaw; Slim fit pink shirt, £82, J.Crew; Short sleeve khaki shirt, £19.90, Uniqlo
Sitting in a warm office on a hot day may well be a distant memory, but as it’s set to hit up to 26 degrees this week, it’d be wise to have some smart, summer staples in rotation.
A linen shirt is one such wonder: a tailored option is perfect for work when paired with a wrap skirt or cropped trousers, and will keep you cool. Pale blue is a classic, but if you’re after something different this season, look to J.Crew’s Pepto-pink version which will look great with chinos, or Jigsaw’s khaki number that would work with a denim A-line skirt.
A sturdy but summery bag
Basket bag, £453, Folklore; Raffia Raisin bag, £405, Elleme; Shopper, £35.99, Mango
The last time you schlepped to work it was probably with a wintry black leather tote in tow, but the summer months call for a lighter, brighter – but equally practical – option. What with, gloves, masks and hand sanitisers now a daily necessity, you’ll be needing a roomier bag, too.
Raffia is the most stylish summer option, though be sure to look for versions with a leather trim to ensure it’s long-lasting. Should you want something less cumbersome, look to a fabric tote.
An oversized blazer
Linen blazer, £150, Arket; Checked blazer, £59, Topshop; Lilac linen blazer, £157.50, Sandro
Even though the mercury is predicted to soar over the next week or so, we know better than to leave home in the morning in a slip of a dress without a just-in-case jacket, and a blazer is work-friendly option.
Use it to add a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral look, or aim to clash your prints for striking ensemble. An oversized fit ensures it works over everything from T-shirts and shirts, to long sleeved dresses, and it won’t be wasted come autumn when you can fit warmer knits underneath it.
A stylish mask
Gingham mask, £12, Florence Bridge; Mint face mask, £7, Accessorize; Floral mask, £9.50, Leisuretime Gifts at Etsy
While a medical-blue mask has likely been your go-to accessory over lockdown, a host of stylish options have since cropped up so you needn’t limit your repertoire.
Should you be relying on public transport, a mask is mandatory but that doesn’t mean to say it needs to be boring. Choose a block pastel shade and coordinate to your outfit, or opt for a statement print like ditsy florals or gingham.
Flat leather sandals, £55.99, Zara; Chunky black sandals, £110, Dune London; Arizona suede sandals, £165, Birkenstock
Dad sandals – think thick velcro straps, sturdy soles, foamy insoles and an ‘ugly’ block shape – are having a real moment. In comparison to its flatter, rigid cousin, the leather slider, the dad sandal is much more comfortable to walk in so will serve you well on your return to the commute.
There are lots of colourful options around at the moment, but we’d counsel you to keep it slick by opting for neutral shades.
A poplin dress
Cream cotton dress, £59.99, H&M; Striped shirt dress, £320, Cefinn; Iris & Ink Alexis dress, £130, The Outnet
Should your workplace allow for a casual dress code, a smock should be your first port of call. Roomy, chic and lightweight, it’s the easiest way to nail summer dressing in the city.
If you need to opt for a more tailored shape for a corporate office, a shirt dress with sleeves is a chic alternative. Cefinn’s come complete with matching tie waists, but if you’re keen on the smock vibe, H&M’s ivory option with a pretty Broderie Anglaise trim is a winner.
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