Business Attire: How to Dress for Going Back to the Office
After years of working from home (yes, it really has been years), we’re heading back to the office. For some of us, this is great news. We’re ready to ditch video calls and get back to in-person #collaboration and #synergy.
For others, wearing something other than pajamas feels downright unnatural at this point. But there’s good news for the comfortable sweater-wearers and the “I’m working in my gym clothes because I’m definitely going to work out today” people. The office wardrobe has changed.
And get this: it’s all about comfort.
If you’re digging through your closet and finding nothing but dusty old blazers, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the business attire you should explore if you want to go back to the office in style…and comfort.
In Office, Made Comfortable
Business attire doesn’t mean uncomfortable fitted suits, dull-colored items, and rigid shoes. Looking smart doesn’t equate to feeling stuffy (this sentence is best read in Victor Melling’s voice). Instead, business attire is about expressing your personality and feeling comfortable, but with a professional finish.
For example, this look (A) features a button-down shirt, but it’s short-sleeved to allow for more arm movement (important when you’re typing all day or gesturing wildly during presentations). The color is also a vibrant blue, with a subtle dash pattern that adds some texture. Paired with the matte gray, tailored pants, the shirt pops even more and is counterbalanced by the casual white sneakers. As a bonus, this look also features a game called “Is that guy really holding a phone with an antenna?”
Meanwhile, this outfit (B) opts for a classic checked shirt tucked into navy pants with a blue canvas belt that gives a structured silhouette. Finished with a pair of black sunglasses, the look is laid back but with a professional edge. However, don’t think you have to always tuck in your shirt. This type of office style (C) keeps the shirt untucked, but just remember that this look is best suited to long-sleeved shirts.
If you’re a guy who likes a solid color palette, then this look (D) is for you. The light blue shirt and slightly darker blue pants are definitely trending, and the tones here are neutral enough for the office but are still a color-blocking statement. Alternatively, you could mirror this outfit (E) and pair chic black pants with a fun patterned shirt, keeping the colors close to one another for a cohesive appearance.
Why It’s Important to Dress Well
What we wear isn’t just about conforming to a dress code. Our clothes have a direct impact on how we feel both physically and mentally—they have a deeper meaning that can change our mood, how we interact with others, and if we feel like we belong. There’s even a term called “enclothed cognition” where we associate an article of clothing with a concept. For example, a lab coat conjures up images of science and intelligence.
It’s the same in an office. When we wear clothes that we’re proud of, that have a crisp, clean appearance, we embody that confidence and feel more alert and more productive. Studies even show that how we dress affects our performance.
Likewise, how we present ourselves can invite others to speak to us, to trust working with us, and to reflect our energy. Naturally, there’s a vanity element with how we dress, where we hope to look attractive, but clothes are more profound than that. They’re connected to our confidence and how open we are toward others. When coming back to the office after so long working at home, it’s key to show colleagues that you’re ready to collaborate.
Tips to Dress Well
We’re a far cry from the days of only suits and ties in the office—thank the business gods. Today’s style is more casual and allows for more statement looks. But here’s the thing: sloppy isn’t a good statement. Your clothes should be well-fitted, clean, and consciously put together. You don’t have to spend hours selecting an outfit (although if you love doing that, you sound like someone who should come work for us), but you do need to know what colors, patterns, and cuts suit your shape, height, and skin tone.
A button-down shirt is a failsafe article for the office. Whether short-sleeved, long-sleeved, tucked or untucked, pair it with simple, tailored pants and you should be office-ready. If you’re branching out into new styles, start small. Try a different color, a new brand (*cough* Mizzen+Main *cough*), or a small accessory that you wouldn’t typically wear.
Look, at the end of the day, your style is just that—yours. If you’re wearing something that brings out your best attributes and provides you with the right mix of comfort and confidence, you’re nailing it.
If your office is traditional, try a subtle rebellion to introduce a more casual attitude to dress. Undo your top button, leave the tie at home—little actions may prompt leadership to reassess its rules around business attire.
For more style tips and fashion-forward thinking, take a look at our back in office collection—you may end up more excited to return to in-person work than you expected.