This is the first sign of a post-pandemic work uniform

Early returns to offices mean that people’s dressing habits will have to change a bit after more than a year of no one seeing more than our heads and torsos. Certain workwear fashion trends have already started emerging and you should be aware of them.

Keeping it loose

Bankers in New York City are still flocking together in their fleeced vests, but women are adopting something a little different — baggy suits are making its way into the mainstream, according to The Wall Street Journal.

At this point in the pandemic, Americans are getting ready to pack up the loungewear in exchange for the work clothes. Mass vaccination rollouts mean heading back to the physical work place is within the horizon; the work-from-home routine you’ve carved out over the last year will soon be replaced with rushed morning showers, busy commutes, and dressing up for work again.

The comfy sweats and athleisure during the pandemic could find its way into the office — but not quite. As workwear has shifted over the years into accommodating workers with comfort, how the workplace adapts to pandemic style remains a mystery.

In an effort to transition from the cozy attires of at-home, designers are finally listening to what women want to wear by adopting the signature style of the pandemic and turning it into a more work-focused look.

Designers realize that, after a year in loungewear, women are loath to abandon comfort. So this spring, brands from Stella McCartney and the Row to Brunello Cucinelli and Max Mara strategically proposed louche suits so relaxed, they might as well be PJs. “An oversize suit is…the perfect transition from what we’ve been forced to wear in the last year,” said New York stylist Emma Jade Morrison. “They’re just as easy to wear as a sweatsuit.” Treat them unpreciously, she urges: Try one with a T-shirt and sneakers for errands or a brisk walk (as her client model Emily Ratajkowski does).

The blend of comfort and style isn’t exactly new. The report said that baggy suits were a thing in the mid-19th century, and were often used as for leisure activities, like “Saturday woodland walks, hunting, fishing and even sprawling on the beach.” Dubbed an informal garment, baggy suits are getting a makeover and spruced up a bit due to the pandemic as many people seek more comfort while they work.

They also have versatility outside the office. One women interviewed in the piece said that she wears one of her loose suits with Air Jordans and a sweatshirt, while another can bike to work in the attire.

Here’s how to wear it:

Carolina Cucinelli, the co-president of Italian luxury label Brunello Cucinelli, conceded that an oversize suit could intimidate the uninitiated. But she encourages them to think outside of the box. Avoid stodgy formality by choosing a cheerful color like peach, an unexpected cargo trouser (like the Cucinelli ones below) or by using a bright sneaker and hoodie to “break up” the suit’s perceived stuffiness. Accessorize irreverently, counsels Ms. Morrison, especially when it comes to footwear. “Anything that has a bit of humor behind it works really well,” she said. Converse sneakers, beat-up loafers, chunky sandals and clogs all supply adequate flippancy. But don’t overthink it, Ms. Morrison cautioned. “Just throw it on. The less you style it, the more natural and inherently comfortable it’s going to look.” And feel, for that matter. You won’t even miss those sweats.

It certainly seems that business casual is going to be a bit more lenient in a post-pandemic work-world. One HR expert told Ladders recently that employers will have to adapt to the changes employees want — like a hybrid work schedule — and that includes dress codes. However, don’t expect something drastic like wearing gym shorts to work for the investors meeting.

“Despite the shifts in the workplace due to COVID-19, dressing professionally still holds much value in the workforce, giving people credibility and showing they fit in with the work environment. By dressing appropriately for meetings, whether it be in the office or via Zoom video calls, you project a professional image and understanding of the business culture. Dressing professionally gives people credibility,” they said.