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Remember workwear? 6 fashion editors on what they’re looking forward to wearing to the office

Step away from the athleisure and take joy in clothes again. As we prepare to return to the office, Jade Beer asks six fashion editors for their tips on transitioning back to 9-5 dressing

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14 May 2021

Chloe Street, Fashion editor, The Evening Standard

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I’m looking forward to wearing suits again, dressed down with a t-shirt, trainers and a chunky gold chain. Raey, Totême and Eudon Choi all do beautiful tailoring while Aussie label Oroton have great summery options made from linen and recycled materials.

For blazers I love Racil,Blazé Milano and Arket. I’ll be introducing a tailored waistcoat from The Frankie Shop or Zara with a boyfriend shirt from London label With Nothing Underneath. Vince is great for silk shirts and trousers that make perfect desk-to-dinner outfits. For anyone that works in a more formal office, Cefinn and Misha Nonoo are both great for building a corporate-but-not-dull capsule wardrobe — everything is timeless and designed to be mixed and matched.

Charlie Teasdale, Style director, Esquire

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People. Fashion. Power. Delivered weekly.

You don’t need much to update a working wardrobe. It could be one adaptable blazer, unstructured and unlined, not too dressed up. Private White has an excellent comfortable short blazer in its spring/summer collection. Italian brand Canali has excellent shackets: a blazer that feels like a shirt, and doesn’t feel stuffy. I’m a fan of the British workwear brands. Go to Albam for quietly statement-making pieces or Universal Works for utility suiting.

The more you spend on shoes, the longer they’ll last and the better they will hold their form and finish. I’d suggest Church’s, Crocket & Jones, and GH Bass & Co is more affordable. The Clarks Wallabee is an excellent shoe that looks like a loafer but feels like a trainer.

Lockdown has given me the perspective to stop reinventing my style. It’s easier and more satisfying to stay in my lane, which is bookish New Yorker from the Nineties. I love denim and good shoes, overshirts with blazers and a baseball cap. Think a young Chandler Bing or a sporty American dad.

Teo van den Broeke, Style and grooming director, British GQ

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The linchpin of my wardrobe is Uniqlo’s crew neck Merino wool jumper in midnight blue. I buy a new one every six months. They’re machine washable, don’t lose colour or shape and incredibly high quality for £30. It will always look elegant.

Menswear brands have invested heavily in casual suits with the comfort of jersey and pyjama wear but cut to be flattering and forgiving with some stretch. I’d pair it with a plain t-shirt. CDLP, a Swedish underwear brand, do excellent lyocell t-shirts that are breathable and last. Sunspel is also great. I have five of their blue lighter cotton t-shirts that I’ve worn consistently for eight years and they’re still in great shape.

Look to Marks & Spencer for modular two-piece suits — one with a shacket in a semi-suiting fabric, a more traditional blazer and a bomber — elements that work casually and for the office and are affordable. Boss has done the same thing but in a more elevated wool. It’s smart and easy.

I’ve shopped for more casual pieces from SMR Days; I’ve got an amazing Dunhill white chef’s jacket in a twill cotton and white jeans from Arket. Uniqlo is fantastic for cotton Oxford shirts and CDLP for basic black work socks that never wear through. Investment pieces like a really expensive pair of Gucci loafers, Prada shoes or a Dior saddle bag should elevate an outfit — they’re the extras you buy later. Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta did an incredible pair of towelling loafers I am desperate to have. They’re the perfect balance between comfort and high style. Kim Jones at Dior always nails the must-have accessory and this time its shearling, monogrammed slip-on slippers. I love the elevated comfort.

Tilly Wheating, Junior Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country

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Office dressing has changed so much. You shouldn’t have a work look and an-every-other-day look; instead, combine the two, embrace your style. For me that’s romantic florals, with added preppy.

I have about twenty big, floaty dresses I wear regularly from Ganni or Batsheva, anything with a puff sleeve that’s not too structured and easy to throw on. I bought a couple of the broderie anglaise dresses from the Simone Rocha for H&M collection. Columbian designer Kika Vargas does fabulous voluminous midi dresses with romantic ruffles and tiers, it’s my heaven. I love La Veste for zoom-easy, pretty blouses. I have a pink Gingham one with a huge collar and red contrasting trim.

For spring I’m swapping my heavier knit cardigans and cashmere jumpers for vintage knitted vests with pretty embroidery and interesting buttons. It’s an instant update to slip on over a dress. Try Scottish brand &Daughter for simple oversized cardigans or a thin knit that works with a chic pair of trousers. Molly Goddard is great for fun, colourful knitwear too. This season accessories will boom. Arket is a go-to for simple, chic designs and I love Get A Grip or Margaux Studios for hair clips and beaded jewellery.

Georgia Medley, Fashion and accessories editor, Elle

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I can’t wait to wear great shoes again. Prada have a beautiful pair of pointed kitten heels made from a soft scuba material and in great colours like fluorescent orange and pistachio green. I also love Versace’s platforms with statement gold buckles. If you’re not ready for that, JW Anderson has elevated the slipper — a great way to look fashionable at work.

Raey is a great workwear brand that does the perfect oversized white shirt. It plays around with the cut, the size of the cuffs, the sleeves and the collars. They’re also one of my favourites for staple knits, good cut trousers, denim and loungewear. Bottega Veneta did lots of layering of knitwear for this season, full of colour and great for the office. My Roksanda trousers are perfect for the return to work. They’re sky blue, high-waisted, pleated at the front, turned up at the bottom. I’ve got a similar pair in dark beige from & Other Stories. The fabric means I don’t have to iron them in the morning.

Invest in a designer bag, regardless of the season. I’d choose the Prada Cleo, it’s a curved shape, a great trend this season, and in a range of colours like lilac and pistachio.

Olie Arnold Style director, Mr Porter

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The SS21 shows were designed with the pandemic in mind. Tom Ford talked about how this was the first time he really wanted to get dressed again. There was lots of colour and print and it felt really vibrant and fun, a new positivity. And this is exactly how I love to dress for work. A black blouson jacket from Mr P, a navy cashmere long-sleeved polo from The Row, a white t-shirt from Séfr, black pleated wool trousers from Acne Studios and black tasselled loafers from GH Bass & Co.

The jacket and trousers are the same colour and fabric, a mohair wool blend, but from different labels so it gives the impression of a suit without being traditional. The trousers are slightly cropped, with a little white sock for fun. They make me feel ready for the day. Buy less but buy better. Men need to know how to polish a pair of shoes, to use a shoe horn and that knitwear shouldn’t be hung. If you look after clothes, they last years and become part of your identity.

Lauren Cochrane Fashion writer, The Guardian

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Now is the time to have fun with fashion. There will be a lot more permissiveness. A year of office workers being at home has fast-tracked a casualisation of what we wear to work. People have been super comfortable and will want to bring that feeling into the workplace. Look to brands like Mara Hoffman, Rejina Pyo and Jil Sander for joyful workwear.

I bought a shirt from the Wales Bonner collaboration with Adidas. I’d feel ridiculous sitting at home in it as it has a huge collar. I also have a PVC shirt from Stüssy and a bag from Telfar. They are my re-emergence pieces. Ahead of any investment, ask yourself, am I going to wear this 30 times? On the high street I shop for work pieces from Arket. It’s great for shirts and blouses that are not too minimal or too frilly, a good middle ground. Whistles is good at prints. Saul Nash does really great minimal sportswear, ideal for WFH days.

The Ten: The stories behind the fashion classics by Lauren Cochrane is out now.