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The debate about what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

January 5, 2020

Whether we love to wear wide leg pants, dress shirts, or skinny jeans to work, we wonder about our wardrobe picks and what workwear clothing always stays fashionable.

 

Last year was the inaugural year for York’s famous York Fashion Week. The event saw over 3000 attendees take in more than 53 fashion-related events at Fashion City York. After of the second York Fashion week, which was scheduled from March 25-31st 2019, there’s excitement brewing about what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, and what designs from years gone by could make a revival.

what workwear clothing always stays fashionable - Man wearing tweed suit in the 1940s

Man wearing tweed suit in the 1940s

 

A Look Back at what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

From pin-stripe suits to pencil skirts, and from double-breasted jackets to satin blouses, workwear clothing for men and women has evolved over the ages.  At one point in its evolution, straight cuts were in vogue, and then at another time in vintage workwear history, the wide leg look was in fashion. We’ve seen dress shirts, short skirts and midi’s all become staple office wear at some time or the other over the last several decades.

 

Interestingly, throughout the evolution and transition of workwear trends, views about what workwear clothing always stays fashionable have evolved too. Primarily, fashion followed the profession that you were in. So, while tailored suits and ties were considered “fashionable” by bankers and the “financial types”, Shirt-sleeves and Tees would be more visible on architects and shopping mall staff.

what workwear clothing always stays fashionable-Young Women and Man walking on the beach in 1940, Queensland, Australia

Young Women and Man walking on the beach in 1940, Queensland, Australia

Generational shift in what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

But it’s also a generational shift in the workforce that’s partly responsible for specific clothing staying fashionable at certain times. From Generation Silent (1925-1945), through the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), through Gen X’ers (1965-1981) and now the Gen Y’ers and Millennial’s, there’s been marked influence on what workwear clothing always stays fashionable. For instance, while wide leg trousers might catch the eye of Baby Boomers and their predecessors, Millennial workers might prefer tighter-fit trousers and tops.

 

And then there’s the ethno-cultural aspect of workwear influences too. Those factors might also explain why some office workers would be comfortable wearing wide leg jeans to work, while others stick to straight-cut pants as their preferred workwear of choice.

 

So, the debate over what workwear clothing always stays fashionable is a bit of an oxymoron – somewhat like “contemporary vintage”! Why? Because the term “fashionable” is usually linked to something that’s current. So, how could something “always” stay current – which is by definition a temporary state?

 

Well, fashion events like the New York Fashion Week are always an eye opener.  It’s events like these that serve to highlight the fact that fashion trends of the past, like wide leg dress pants and jeans, have been fashionable throughout the decades since they first hit the runways, and are still very fashionable today!

Depiction of Coco Chanel

Depiction of Coco Chanel

The Little Black Dress that always stay fashionable

If you’re a woman that works, and are wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, then the Little Black Dress (LBD) should probably be your first choice. These timeless creations have become the working girls ‘must have’ wardrobe piece ever since Coco Chanel created it in the 1920s. LBDs have been featured ever since, not just at work-related events, but also on the Red Carpet and Hollywood blockbuster movie sets.

 

At York Fashion Week 2018, leading fashion brands like LK Bennett, Browns, Copper & White, Antonia Houston Couture and Rose & Flo inspired visitors and event attendees on whys to always stay fashionable. Anyone wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable would have gone back from the event fully inspired by fashion ideas and timeless tips and tricks.

 

Dates for the 2019 York Fashion Week have now been released. So, if you want to get some timeless workwear ideas, then mark March 25th to March 31st 2019 down on your schedule. You’re bound to get some great LBD ideas too.

 

In fact, LBD creations are so ageless, that contemporary versions of it will also be featured at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) on September 6th, 2019. It’s then that the LBD Movement will be unveiling a specially curated selection of their favourite black dresses and gowns.

1958 balenciaga babydoll dress

1958 balenciaga babydoll dress

Superstars

So, if you are thinking about what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, then runway models and celebrities from various walks of life will be able to inspire you. At this presentation of the LBD Movement, you’ll see superstars like Jeana Turner, Laura Kirkpatrick, Kasey Cohen, Isis King, and many others. Their appearance at the New York Fashion Week goes to underscore that, regardless of where you work or what you do, women in black dresses can always stay fashionable!

 

So, if you are looking for inspiration on what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, especially when it comes to workwear dresses, then Nordstrom Rack may offer you some choices. Their Short Sleeve Tie Front Dress is a perfect little number that fits the bill to the tee. Like many designs featured at past and recent York Fashion Week presentations and NYFW events, this one is created from knitted fabric, it features a self-tie at the waist, and can effortlessly be slipped on over the head for a quick work-ready look.

 

If you are wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, but that could also be worn for extra-formal work events, like a career-making professional dinner, or an extra-special award ceremony, then Nordstrom Rack’s Front Knot Linen Dress might be just what your wardrobe needs. This piece features a scoop neck with adjustable spaghetti straps and a back zipper.

 

If you don’t have the time or patience to wait until the next York Fashion Week for workwear inspiration, then Banana Republic may be able to offer you some great ideas. Their Trench Dress is the epitome of what workwear clothing always stays fashionable – regardless of changes in the work environment or fashion trends.

Lars Jacob, Elisabeth Hultner & Greger Planstedt, Place Raadhuspladsen, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1970

Lars Jacob, Elisabeth Hultner & Greger Planstedt, Place Raadhuspladsen, Copenhagen, Denmark,1970

The Wide Leg Revolution in what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

If you’re into wearing trousers and pants for work, and wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, then perhaps you should take a closer look at the almost ageless wide leg jeans, dress pants and trouser collections from leading brand designers.

 

Back in the day, when they first burst onto the scene, jeans were primarily meant as after-work or casual wear. But that’s no longer the case. As they evolved from Straight leg and Skinny, to Boyfriend and Baggy, the wide leg cut is still popular among the working masses. Don’t believe us? Well, just ask leading model Sabina Socol, who swears by her wide leg jeans and pants.

Street style atNew York Fashion Week September 2016

New York Fashion Week September 2016

Fashion venues

Fashion venues, like the New York Fashion Week, recently paid tribute to trousers with legs that were wider than the normal cut. And if you thought denim was purely an after-work thing, AW18’s denim-based cuffed, wide leg trouser was on display by Hellesy – proving that wider cut legs are fine for workwear too!

 

Model Anne-Laure Mais is yet another spokesperson for the wide leg trouser revolution. She’s on record confirming that these are simply her “favourite summer pants”. But for work-conscious fashionistas, Mais had some more insight into why the wide leg revolution has caught on as much as it has today. The cut is not only versatile and comfortable to wear, but you can blend it with so many pieces from your wardrobe, that creating an ideal workwear look with wide leg jeans or pants is a no brainer!

 

And for anyone wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, leading women designers, like Victoria Beckham, may have something to say about that too! Her idea of what women like to wear includes checked shirts, pleated skirts – and yes, wide leg trousers! A nice pair of boot-cuts, tastefully worn with a vintagey bomber jacket and a pair of comfortable runners, would make an ideal office ensemble. You could easily accessorise that wide leg look with a shoulder bag or a clutch purse – and you’re all set for a comfortable day at work!

 

If your work environment is “ultra-formal”, then you might be wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable in those environments? Well, why not think top-to-toe black!

Cecilia Suarez in black suit, Mexico city, 2012

Cecilia Suarez in black suit

Black suits in what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

Nothing says “professional” like the ageless black suit. It is the time-honoured working outfit for both men and women. There have been any number of black office outfit ideas presented over the years at NYFW and the inaugural York Fashion Week. But simplicity is always the key to pulling off anything as sombre as a purely black outfit.

 

Consider separates as the base from which to start off. Black wide leg trousers, paired with a well-cut black satin jacket, that accentuates your waist, would make an excellent foundation to build upon. You could wear your jacket over a silk white shirt, or a cream coloured buttoned-up top. Wide leg dress pants, paired with a midnight blouse, could also compliment your office look. An elegant business handbag would serve as a great complimentary accessory.

 

Wide leg trousers could also go well with heels or flats, but keep them to a reasonable height, because the wide pants naturally give the illusion of a taller woman. Adding height through heels/flats isn’t recommended with that height-inspiring optical illusion already in play!

A woman wearing a pencil skirt, a wide belt and lace-up boot

A woman wearing a pencil skirt, a wide belt and lace-up boot

Pencilling-In Work dates

And while wide leg pants and trousers have remained fashionable workwear all through the years, women have never really drifted too far from yet another classic of working women from years gone by: The indominable pencil skirt.

 

For skirt-loving women wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, a closer look at Christian Dior’s Pencil Skirt from his 1945 H-Line collection will tell all! Sitting just above the knee, and slightly tapered at the hemline, this piece of workwear literally changed how women in the workforce – and on the streets – walked!

 

Attendees at fashion events like the York Fashion Week here in the UK, and even at New York Fashion Week, will likely see how models in pencil skirts have improvised their gait to illustrate the best features of their bodies. And like the wide leg dress pants of yore, pencil skirts have now become a staple in any working woman’s closet.

what workwear clothing always stays fashionable - Model in 1950s red satin blouse and tartan pencil skirt

Model in 1950s red satin blouse and tartan pencil skirt

Boden and what workwear clothing always stays fashionable

Boden’s Hampshire Ponte Pencil Skirt is a perfect example of how effortlessly a well-designed Pencil Skirt can be fused into a work wardrobe. Fully lined, and ending just below the knee, the Ponte Pencil Skirt can easily be worn in any working environment, whether it’s at a customer-facing retail shop or a back-office position.

 

Anyone wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, will also be thinking about pairing their Pencil Skirt appropriately – and Boden’s has the perfect pair to go with its skirt – the Ultra-Stretchy Ponte Blazer. And just like most wide leg office wear trousers, the stretchable blazer is so comfortable that you could very easily extend it to beyond office wear.

 

If you prefer pencil skirts, but are looking for way below-the-knee fashion for work, and are wondering what workwear clothing always stays fashionable, Prada, Fendi and Gucci have something for you too. Their version of the timeless pencil skirt is not unlike many designs you might see at the York Fashion Week, and it reaches well below the knees – just above the ankles in fact. This is a different spin from the wiggly Marilyn Monroe-look, and departs slightly from the midi-length skirts that were popular just a few years back.

 

Another version of the ageless Pencil Skirt comes from ASOS, in the form of its high waist longerline pencil skirt. For anyone debating what workwear clothing always stays fashionable yet “conservative” for most office environments, this one from ASOS is the perfect fit.

 

What You Wear Isn’t Who You Are – Any Longer!

The focus on what workwear clothing always stays fashionable has shifted tremendously over the past half-decade or so. The typical saying “What you wear to work says a lot about who you are!” isn’t very apropos today. With generational shifts in how the workplace operates, the focus on office wardrobes no longer applies as strongly as it used to before. For instance, if you are tele-commuting or working from home, whether you wear wide leg pants, or cut-off shorts, or distressed jeans while working, no one really cares.

Vogue Fashion Display in the window of Bainbridge & Co in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1940s.

Vogue Fashion Display in the window of Bainbridge & Co in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1940s.

What workwear clothing always stays fashionable classics

However, some classics like the LBD, the black jacket with wide leg dress pants, the pin-striped suit, the pencil-skirt or the A-line skirt, became fashionable when they arrived on the fashion scene, and are still fashionable as workwear even today. These are timeless pieces of men’s and women’s work wardrobe that never seem to be out of fashion.

 

The debate about what workwear clothing always stays fashionable is further fuelled by fashion designers that often go back in time to re-create contemporary versions of past hits. The runways at the York Fashion Week 2018 amply showed that designs of the past can still be appropriate and relevant for office goers and workers across the spectrum.

 

Other global events, such as the New York Fashion Week have also helped to revive some workwear from yesteryear, and bring them back into contemporary relevance. It’s events like these that help working men and women adopt their personalised working wardrobes to their own personalities. Clothes do not define who you are at work any longer. But they can certainly help define how good (or otherwise) you feel about yourself at work.

 

Best of all, with the second York Fashion Week set to kick off in early 2019, we’re sure to see a lot more vintage fashion, including wide leg trousers and skirts, become fashionable workwear once again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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