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6 Ways to Navigate a Shifting Dress Code

Outfit-selection strategies to make going back to the office less overwhelming.

By Madeleine Kim

If you’re returning to the office after a period of working from home, you may be struggling to navigate shifting wardrobe norms. During recent virtual appointments, our stylists have noticed some common questions from women whose offices are beginning to reopen: Do I still need to follow the old dress code even though so much has changed? My team has been dressing way more casually during quarantine—will I look like the odd one out if I don’t show up in jeans and a tee? I want to wear my work clothes, but I don’t want to look too buttoned-up. How can I strike a balance?

There’s plenty to worry about right now. Your outfit is one area where you shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed. Here are six ways to make outfit-selection easier as you adapt to office life in the “After Times.”

 


1.

Simplify Your Color Palette

You’re staring at your closet, mind blank, wondering how the hell you’re going to decide what to wear. We’ve all been there. Make things easier on yourself by taking color out of the equation. When you decide to stick to a black-and-white palette, you automatically pare down your options and make outfit-selection less overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to pair warm-toned whites like alabaster with shades that veer closer to gray. Tie it all together with a lightweight black cardigan and some chic-yet-comfy slingbacks.

 

2.

Style the Outfit Around Your Favorite Top

Not sure where to start? Pick a top that makes you feel confident and build the rest of your outfit around it. Something like the Lulu jacket (worn as a shirt) makes a subtle statement on its own, creating a clear path to a put-together outfit. Just add understated pants, a pair of loafers, and some simple earrings, and you’re ready to go.

3.

Dress Down a Suit with Sneakers and a T-Shirt

If you don’t know how formal to go, opt for something right in the middle. Classic black pants plus a matching blazer equals classic-suit vibes. Incorporate sneakers and a tee to keep the outfit from feeling too buttoned-up. (On the flip side, if you’re worried about looking too casual, you can stash a pair of comfortable pumps in your work bag.)

4.

Balance an Elevated Skirt with a Sweater

You know that gorgeous, draped skirt you bought for a wedding that’s now postponed until 2021? Work it into a power-casual office look by adding a polished summer sweatshirt and some pretty slingbacks. The Chadwick sweater is lightweight enough to pull off a half-tuck, which will keep the Lenox skirt’s beautiful waist details front and center.

 

5.

Casual-ify a Dress with Sneakers

The easiest way to put an outfit together? Choose a one-and-done dress, of course! Opt for a style like the Joslyn, which has design details—a removable fabric belt, a raised cowl neck, and asymmetrical gathering—that speak for themselves. In other words: The styling is done for you. Dress it down with some sneakers, and remove the belt if you want to go extra casual.

 

6.

Make the Jacket Optional

To blazer or not to blazer? If that’s your question, go for an outfit that works either way, so you can change your mind based on the vibe at your office (or, more likely, who’s controlling the thermostat). The Nejvi top in mosaic works beautifully as a standalone statement top, but it’s also tailored enough to fit comfortably under a blazer like the Bennett. The ivory-colored Mejia pant has warm undertones, making it just the thing to tie this summer-ready palette together.

Madeleine Kim

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is a Senior Brand Associate at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

See more of Madeleine's articles

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