Local stylists offer insight into the new wave of office fashion.
Fashion is a way of expressing your personality. For many, it can be a way of distinguishing yourself from one person to the next. “I think it is a way for us to showcase ourselves in a way that we want to show up in the world,” says Jodi Mayers, a Twin Cities wardrobe consultant and stylist. “Our wardrobe is like the cover of a book: you don’t always know the goodness inside, but you are hoping that the cover is interesting enough that people will want to dig in.”
Mayers adds that clothing “builds confidence [and] can add a little pep to your step in a world where things can feel very out of control sometimes … Your style is something that can be fluid and transform and adjust over time.”
However, the effects of COVID-19 put a damper on how people were able to showcase their personalities through clothing, particularly in the work world. Trading in dresses and trousers for sweats and leggings, the world went from polished office fashion to “comfort plus” in the blink of an eye. (A phenomenon that Mayers refers to as the “Zoom mullet effect”—business on the top and leisure on the bottom.)
Redefining Business Casual
With the world finally opening back up, Mayers notes that offices have started to redefine what it means to dress business casual—a phrase that now offers plenty of room for interpretation. There is now more flexibility in showcasing your style in a way that best suits your lifestyle, allowing people to combine style with comfort. “People are experiencing fatigue around athleisure-wear and are searching for ways to feel themselves again in clothing,” Mayers says. “People are at a point where they are excited to dress up again.”
In this new wave of office fashion, Mayers says we will see a lot more people leaning stronger on the casual side of business casual, with a juxtaposition between casual-meets-office through button-ups with jeans or sneakers with skirts. She also predicts that individuals will continue to have fun experimenting with their personality in clothes now that they can outwardly showcase it.
Dress for the Job (or Day) You Want
Nicole Jennings, Edina resident, stylist and owner of Minneapolis boutique Queen Anna House of Fashion, uses clothing to empower and inspire women to take their energy out into the world and do good. “If you look good, you can do good,” she says. In a time following
a global pandemic, she recognizes the challenges that come with shifting back to what was once our “normal”—in fashion and in life.
When getting ready in the morning, Jennings personally uses fashion to align her intentions with her surroundings—helping her outer self align with her inner intentions for a day. She encourages her clients to do the same, presenting themselves to the world based on how they want to feel. But how exactly do you bring your body into alignment with what you want out of your day? It’s simple, according to Jennings: Wear the outfit that will make you feel ready to seize the day.
Creating a Versatile Capsule Wardrobe
Jennings says the most attainable way to consistently dress to reflect your intentions is to create a capsule wardrobe. And what is a capsule wardrobe? It’s a small collection of classic clothing and accessories, including tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes and jewelry, that can easily be mixed and matched and dressed up or down in a variety of different ways. This approach creates an easy uniform for the wearer and provides the ability to create a multitude of interchangeable options without stress. It also results in a timeless wardrobe built to withstand a lifetime—no fast fashion or succumbing to temporary trends necessary.
“I err on the side of timeless because I don’t personally do fast fashion,” Jennings says. “If I’m going to invest in something, I want it to not just be good for the month but for the longterm.” With that, she encourages clients to invest in items that are timeless when building a capsule wardrobe.
Jennings suggests some pieces to consider for this capsule (whether it is men or women’s wear), including jeans, blazers, collared shirts, T-shirts, sweaters and staple shoes like loafers, flats, boots or classic sneakers. “Timeless elements come first, and functionality [closely] follows,” Jennings says.
To be highly functional, Jennings says it’s important to create your capsule with items that can easily be mixed and matched. This can be done through clothing silhouettes, which repeat or are complementary, and through an intentional color scheme. Jennings says that neutrals like black and white with a pop of one color or several shades of similar colors will result in a collection that can be worn together without second-guessing if they match.
When choosing pieces, Mayers says you should consider the following four characteristics for each piece: comfort, convenience, versatility and polish. She notes that she’s seeing a lot of comfortable, casual clothing but with a more tailored, structured shape to elevate the look.
With this type of capsule wardrobe, you’ll be ready for any occasion—from going into the office to grabbing happy hour, hitting up the farmers market or going on a date.
Even though this approach focuses on creating a foundation for your wardrobe, Mayers and Jennings say it is also important to understand that there are still ways to incorporate your unique personality. This could be through a variety of accessories, such as shoes, jewelry, bags or hats, as well as through textures, materials and colors in seasonally inspired wardrobe capsules.
Stylist: Jodi Mayers & Style Partners
Model: Shelly Loberg, vice president of Edina Chamber of Commerce and Explore Edina
Clothing: Bumbershute at 50th & France
Location: Room & Board
Hair: Christina Jackson, Drybar Edina
Makeup: Makeup by Aleah
All photoshoot contributors are also partners for Style Edina, Explore Edina’s annual fall fashion show.