7 ways to upgrade your work wardrobe this spring
Spring is a time for clear outs and fresh starts, and where better to begin than your working wardrobe? With four out of five jobs now advertising a smart casual dress code, it’s never been easier to feel like yourself in the office.
Read on for seven easy ways to add some 2023 energy to your 9-5 vibe.
If you buy one item of workwear this year, make it a pair of power trousers — the bigger and baggier the better. Pleated front, wide-legged trousers are booming online: the style was the top search on the M&S website last week. “Oversized is everything! Go bold in Bottega green, or pure and simple with Prada and style with a neutral over - sized knit or blazer,” says Natalie Dickson, head of women’s luxury at Flannels. COS does a high fashion-style green pair for less. They are part of a general relaxation in office attire. “The trousers are wider, the jackets are roomier — it all feels very relaxed but elegant at the same time,” says Oliver Spencer, founder and creative director of menswear label Favourbrook.
COS, high waisted trousers, £79, cos.com
Reformation, Mason Pant, £200, thereformation.com
Still By Hand, Pleated relaxed-fit wide-leg wool-blend trousers, £190, selfridges.com
Ripped knee, acid wash jeans belong in very few workplaces, but there’s some seriously smart denim on offer this season that’s slick enough even for Canary Wharf. Dark washes and polished, fray-free fits are key. “Throughout the SS23 shows we saw a variety of denim wardrobing styled in an elevated way,” says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matches Fashion. Their in-house brand Raey’s denim maxi skirt has fast become a fashion editor’s favourite (it’s being restocked soon), and works well for the office with heeled boots, a roll neck and blazer. Alternatively, Massimo Dutti has excellent indigo denim suiting while Aligne and Cos have shirt and trouser co-ords that semaphore soft power.
Massimo Dutti, blazer, £149, massimodutti.com, skirt, £69.95, massimodutti.com
COS, pink denim shirt, £79, cos.com, pink denim wide legged trousers, £48, cos.com
Zara Studio, denim jacket, £119, zara.com
Ah, the eternal dilemma: finding a bag that’s capacious enough to lug about a laptop but doesn’t ruin your fit for after work drinks. This season’s coolest arm candy comes logo-less and distinctly understated, with the chic, oversized tote “a 2023 wardrobe essential,” says Dickson. “It’s the perfect grab-and-go option that’s both functional and stylish.” Celine’s calfskin Cabas Phantom (£1,850) is one you’ll have for decades, or for something weekend wardrobe friendly DeMellier’s New York style (£395) or Little Liffner’s sculptural Tulip tote (£460). Whistle’s minimal Amara leather tote meanwhile has something of the Celine about it for £199.
Celine, Cabas Phantom, £1,850, celine.com
& Other Stories, embossed leather tote, £145, stories.com
DeMellier, The New York bag, £465, demellierlondon.com
Earn your stripes
A crisp shirt is an integral part of any formal wardrobe, and the best of the bunch this spring come unapologetically striped. “History would indicate that in a time of economic downturn we turn to staple uniforms for our clothing, and the striped shirt has consistently been leading that trend,” says Pip Durell, founder of London shirt label With Nothing Underneath, whose blue and white poplin stripe shirt (£95) is currently its bestseller after plain white. “I can safely say the striped shirt is in high demand!” At John Lewis the Kinstriped shirt is a bestseller for women, while classic styles for men on the high street are led by Gant, for the more relaxed, or Charles Tyrwhitt who offer a sharper fit.
Gant, striped shirt, £90, gant.co.uk
With Nothing Underneath, The Boyfriend, £95, withnothingunderneath.com
John Lewis, Kin stripe shirt, 65, johnlewis.com
Silver was seen on the runways at Altuzarra , Alaïa and Chanel, and the metallic shade is most definitely trending for spring. While we wouldn’t dream of suggesting you bowl into a board meet - ing in tin foil trousers, silver slingbacks are an easy way to add a fashion forward flex to your work wardrobe, and they’re more versatile than you might first think. The street style set is firmly sold on Prada’s rubber-soled pointy pair (£890) but the high street is awash with options — try Maje, Zara, Reformation and Aeyde — that don’t require a pay rise.
Aeyde, Uma Silver Nappa, £245, aeyde.com
Zara, Ballerina block heels, £45.99, zara.com
Prada, Brushed leather slingback pumps, £890, prada.com
Shoulder pad suiting
Despite murmurs of a great unbuttoning taking place post-Covid, statement tailoring remains one of the strongest sectors at London’s department stores. Selfridges have upped their menswear suiting offering by 75 per cent for SS23, while big padded shoulders have taken the womenswear market by storm — led by Saint Laurent and, more affordably, at Anine Bing and Joseph. “We are seeing people starting to wear suits and structured separates again for work, even in environments where very few people are required to,” says Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, creative director at tailor Edward Sexton. “People are having more fun with their tailoring.” The best oversized styles for boys come courtesy of Zara, Studio Nicholson and COS.
Anine Bing, khaki blazer, £600, aninebing.com
The Frankie Shop, Bea single-breasted stretch-crepe blazer jacket, £295, selfridges.com
Zara, double breasted linen blazer, £109, zara.com
Pop of purple
Designers leant into lilac at the SS23 shows, led by Elie Saab, Emporio Armani and Molly Goddard. Slowly but surely their purple-tinted vision is trickling down to add freshness to the workrobe. “It’s bright, playful and it’s clearly here to stay,” says Queralt Ferrer, design director at John Lewis. For the bold, go monochrome. Sézane offers a balloon sleeved blouse and wide slacks in the shade. Boys too — just look to Benetton’s recent runway which starred a lovely lilac peaked lapelled suit. And for those just seeking a splash, handbags from JW Anderson or French Connection (for styles under £100) are a simple starting point. So too are Swarovski’s octagon cut Millennia stud earrings in purple.
Sézane, Chloé shirt, £100, sezane.com, Lou Lou trousers, £140, sezane.com
Rails, Arlo Shirt in Orchid, £195, shopatanna.com
JW Anderson, Cabas tote bag, £490, jwanderson.com