In fact, in can be fun.
For decades, women heading into offices — both creative and more traditional — have found that their closets have to be separated into two. There’s the fun fashion: what you wear to weekend brunch, a wedding, or for a night out. And then, there’s the 9-to-5 uniform, a drab collection of blazers, pencil skirts, and trousers — practical, but not all that inspiring for those who find joy in putting together an outfit. But the tyranny of snoozy workwear is finally at an end, in no small thanks to a range of unexpected and stylish workwear brands on the scene. These labels are looking to fill the space between what you have to wear, and what you actually want to put on.
Due in no small part to time spent out of the office over the past two years, much of the formality found in workwear has come under scrutiny. “After working from home and acclimating to loungewear for a couple of years, I think a work wardrobe will be a little more comfy as more people return to the office,” says stylist Sissy Chacon. “Think suiting, tailored trousers but in natural fibers.” For those who are able to go so far as to wear jeans and T-shirts at the office, touches of polish — a button-down worn over a tank top, or a sharp heel worn with more casual separates — help to put a more professional spin on the same pieces you might wear comfortably on the weekend. “For too long, women’s workwear has been constricting or lacking key functional elements like pockets,” says Sali Christeson, founder and CEO of Argent. “As office dress codes shift, we’re seeing a hybrid style emerge and the line between workwear and what women are wearing in their day-to-day lives blurring.”
For Dianna Cohen, founder of Crown Affair, dressing for work is all about versatility. “My go-to work look is mixing a blazer or jacket and simple T-shirt with a favorite pair of denim,” she explains. “If I’m running around visiting stores or going to casual meetings, I wear Adidas Sambas. For a more formal look I’ll wear Manolo flats or BB heels if a heel is needed.” The ability to take the same polished staples and easily style them to fit your business needs, casual or formal, is part of the appeal of a new era of forward-thinking workwear brands.
Ahead, find eight workwear brands that are putting women’s wants and needs first when it comes to dressing for the office.
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“We’re seeing our customers gravitate towards versatile pieces like blazers in unexpected and bold hues, including olive and magenta, to showcase their personal style,” says Christeson. The brand’s collection of styles stays true to the core workwear aesthetic, fitting even for more formal offices, but offers playful twists and comfortable fabrics to take things above and beyond.
Not only is Another Tomorrow helping to refine and reinvent elegant workwear, but the brand’s commitment to ethical and sustainable production makes it one worthy of investing in. If your style falls on the minimalist side, or you’re looking to build up a collection of refined basics, start here.
Chacon was first drawn to Los Angeles-based Dal the Label for “the impeccable tailoring and refined fabrics.” The relaxed take on more formal workwear staples is particularly exciting and versatile.
South Korean label Le 17 Septembre was founded by former blogger Eunhye Shin in 2013 and is now carried by in-the-know retailers like Net-a-Porter and Ssense. The brand’s timeless staples are simple, but are created with a focus on craftsmanship that makes them particularly appealing.
First launched in 1987, Scanlan Theodore has emerged as a workwear label to know now. The pieces are sleek and contemporary — fit for a formal office without feeling too stuffy. Unexpected colors and luxe design details make the Australian brand an easy one to pair with casual pieces on your days off too.
“I love the women’s tees from Buck Mason,” says Cohen. “I’ll wear that with a blazer from Theory, Stella McCartney, or a fun custom jacket like these silk ones from Côme Éditions.” She also recommends the elevated basics brand for one-and-done options like a simple jumpsuit or a shirtdress.
If you’re eager to build your workwear collection, but are looking for more affordable options, Chacon recommends Australian label Diish for its stylish options that are listed for under $200. The pieces are trend-adjacent, cool and modern, without being too of-the-moment.
Sharp tailoring gets a colorful punch thanks to the work of designer Sergio Hudson. His pieces are designed to accentuate and celebrate women’s bodies while making formal work pieces into something flashy and fun. The message: Workwear can be powerful without being overly serious.