Can you help me time warp into the business fashion present?
January 27, 2023 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I was out of the work world and parenting a kid for the past 2.5 years and it appears that all my lady-type business casual clothing is completely outdated. Where can I go to catch up on current trends? What are professional fashion-current lady-types wearing now?

All I've been able to parse out is that there seems to be a revival of 60s beatnik style ankle pants and that 80s style puffed sleeves are in? This makes me even more confused because that feels like a pretty big jump for a 2.5 year span. How did we get here?
posted by donut_princess to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Hmmm, all your clothes that were completely in style three years ago are now completely outdated? That doesn't sound quite right to me. Are you seeing this based on Instagram and TikTok or other social media, or actually at work? I don't think people are dressing all that differently, except perhaps more casually.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:19 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]

I like InStyle for an overview of trends.
posted by rpfields at 6:26 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

There's always corporette
posted by gingerbeer at 7:32 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I want to validate that, yes, indeed there was a time warp of sorts when it comes to fashion including business casual. I used to be so aware of slang and trends. Then I was abroad for a year, then the pandemic happened and I was living in nature, then working remotely. Later I started teaching Gen Z teens and was shocked at how much style changed in such a short period of time.

The pandemic played a role as well as style transitioning from being focused on Millennials to Gen Zers. There have been some insightful articles in the New York Times. I also like this random comedy video that shows some extreme differences. This podcast episode is about Gen Z decor trends but gave me insight into fashion, too.

My current go-to is to incorporate a mixture of old and new trends, like my old skinny jeans (a hug you can wear!) mixed with Chelsea boots (comfy and fun!), a ruffly green silk blouse covered with tiny red mushrooms (tucked in, who am I!?) and a (gasp) middle part. I can only speak to my job but we can wear jeans and sneakers every day if we want; for years and years I was expected to dress ridiculously formally while I taught kids. Tbh I struggle to understand and adjust to these fashion changes, in part because I don't like to buy clothing, but I'm getting there. And damn people of all ages looooooove that mushroom shirt!
posted by smorgasbord at 7:35 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

What industry are you in? Finance vs creative roles can look pretty different. Your age may also play a part in what trends are appropriate.
posted by greta simone at 7:35 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also, your observations are spot-on: one outfit I occasionally wear is the 60s style bell bottom jeans with a black shirt with 80s puffy sleeves. I simultaneously love it and want to die of cringe because I look like an overaged model in an outdated French textbook published in the 80s but with old pictures. (The 90s teen I had been would not have approved of the awkward throwback.) Ironically, the 90s are also popular but way better than I remembered fashion actually being when I look at old photos.
posted by smorgasbord at 7:43 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]

Fashion has absolutely changed; for me the biggest thing is finding ways to incorporate oversized pieces without looking cartoonish. (I'm 5' tall, so I have to be really careful about this!)

So far my formula is to pair one oversized piece with something more form fitting. So I'll wear skinny jeans with an oversized/"boyfriend" blazer. Or wide leg jeans with a form fitting, tucked in top.

The other way to update a look is with chunkier shoes - platform sneakers or boots with a heavy lug sole instead of the more delicate ballet flats, ankle booties, etc from a few years ago. Loafers are still in but again with a chunky sole rather than a slim one.

It's ok to pick and choose which new trends you want to incorporate and which you don't. Personally I cannot and will not ever wear ruffles because that has never felt like my style. And although I may buy wide leg pants, they're still high waisted because that works better for my proportions.

The TikTok creator beingjulia has a series about updating milennial outfits where she shows how to modify looks in a way that feels more classic and less trend-chasing. She's not insulting about it, and is clear that if a look is still working for you there is nothing wrong with wearing it.
posted by misskaz at 6:29 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]

I was reading this article apparently Aritzia is trendy? The pants you mention are detailed within.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:27 AM on January 28

I feel as if it is definitely true that trends have gone from being driven by millennials to Gen Z. But there's a large disconnect where a lot of what is trendy absolutely does not transfer to an appropriate corporate wardrobe, and the trend cycle right now has an obscene turnover because we see fashion content play out mostly on TikTok which thrives on new content. A lot of what is trendy online is simply for online and isn't true street style like it used to be. And because nothing actually ever changes, fashion still revolves around thin white bodies so you've got to look pretty hard for content creators who don't have waists slimmer than their hips.

Having said that, I feel like I am seeing certain things reverberate out into work and street style. Overall, stuff is more casual, relaxed, comfortable, and less structured. The same form-fitting dress silhouettes exist, but they're more likely to be made of stretch fabrics. It's sort of old news now I guess but the more mild cottage-core-esque trends found a home in my organisation. Flowy dresses, linen, gingham prints, princess sleeves, that sort of thing. Maximalism is pretty big (heh) but obviously not suitable for most offices so you see it play out with bolder colours and patterns and clothing structure. Definitely wide-leg high-waisted pants, but I see a lot of straight-leg, cigarette-style pants too. One of my work outfits is a mock neck jersey with straight-leg ankle-length pants and my doc chelseas, or loafers (or mary janes) with cute socks. Blending feminine with masculine is very present right now, e.g. the form-fitting base with the oversize blazer look. The high-waisted midi skirt, usually a bit 90s inspired, is a work staple for me right now as well. I can wear it with pantyhose underneath and any of the above-mentioned footwear, or bare legs depending on the weather. Sweater vests either tucked into high-waisted skirts or worn down to hips is a very cute, vaguely polished and relaxed professional look. Same with a looser fit, flowy short-sleeve button-up shirt into high-waisted skirts or pants (think the coastal grandma stuff that was in for about 5 minutes a couple of months ago).

I know people have big feelings about Pinterest but it's actually pretty good for outfit inspiration. It won't be up-to-the-minute trendy stuff but I don't think that's super important for most people working in corporate environments.
posted by BeeJiddy at 5:40 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

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