Twice a year, everybody who’s anybody in the fashion world descends on the UK’s capital for a full week of incredible designs. But as much as we may aspire to wear the clothes we see on the catwalks, many of us worry that the designs we love aren’t exactly appropriate office wear.
Fortunately, however, it doesn’t have to be that way! It’s easy to keep your business outfits on trend with the help of catwalks; the key is finding the balance.
Helen Harker, Design Manager at Simon Jersey, says that taking a little inspiration from the catwalks is an ideal way to brighten up your office wear:
“Whilst the fashion week runways shows are always great to watch, many people don’t think that they can take the latest trends and transfer them into their workwear wardrobe in a manner that aligns with their employer’s expectations.
“But the truth is that elements of the designs that emerge can always be incorporated into our outfits; the important thing is that you remain professional and comfortable. Workwear fashion doesn’t have to be bland!”
We have scoured the trend reports from London Fashion Week to bring you the top 10 trends, along with real suggestions, to make sure you have a fashionable workwear wardrobe this season.
Savile Row Woman
While it’s true that some designs never go out of style, this season saw the re-emergence of classic designs on the catwalk. Eighties-inspired workwear is in, with smart fitted blazers, cropped trousers and pencil skirts being seen across several designers. Pinstripes were everywhere, from navy to grey, with the option of being dressed up or down.
Designers from Burberry to Mulberry seem to have fallen back in love with this time-honoured piece, and are re-inventing them for the modern times. Slouchy jackets and trousers were popular, but a nod to the incredible suits of Savile Row saw fitted jackets taking to the runway. Lean and vertical lines are certainly making a comeback in workwear in the Autumn/Winter season.
In late 2016, Vogue stated, somewhat controversially, that low-cut necklines were to become a thing of the past. And it appears that designers have heeded the word of the fashion Bible and incorporated this into their new collections. In their Spring/Summer collections, the bigger designers took inspiration from Victorian necklines, ruffles and all, but these aren’t particularly workwear friendly.
Fortunately, this year yielded much more practical designs with the re-invention of the humble turtleneck, or polo neck – the ideal smart, yet fashionable, workwear choice. Long-sleeved or short, polo necks leave everything to the imagination and pair perfectly with a pencil skirt or fitted trousers.
Snug vs slack
Earlier in the season shapes were a big deal on the runways of New York; designers opted for exaggerated and slouchy outlines – the ‘anti-fit’. But London appeared to be divided on the issue. Whilst Jasper Conran opted for breezy designs that flowed easily, others like Ports went down the path of body-snug. In the latter, of course, silhouettes were a common sight, and are easy to replicate in workwear. Fitted dresses allow you to get this catwalk-approved look instantly.
Despite debate over fitted vs baggy, slim fit trousers appear to be firmly out of the window, particularly for men. Whilst you may not want to take your workwear to the same extent of some collections – which saw full-length trousers practically sweep the floor – adding slacks to your wardrobe is an easy way to go. Pair with a fitted shirt and slim jacket to perfectly complement the more relaxed look.
There’s something so quintessentially British about chunky knitwear and cable jumpers, and Autumn/Winter 2017 is shaping up to have plenty of both. Just like with the Savile Row suits, designers paid homage to the 80s with bold patterns and an oversized fit. It’s the perfect choice if you’re going for a business casual look; throw on a knitted jumper or cardigan over a pencil skirt or tailored trousers and you’re office-ready in no time.
The classic camel coat
The camel coat is a piece of clothing that never seems to fade away; it goes with everything from black cigarette pants for the office to weekend boyfriend jeans, and transitions seamlessly from day to night. It’s perfect for the over-the-shoulder toss, which emits sophistication and a casual vibe all at the same time
But this year, Michael Kors has reinvented this staple item to make this look even easier to achieve. Positioned underneath the standard sleeves, specially designed slits have been cut to create a look that’s tremendously Parisian. However, if you’d rather stick to the classic style – and we can’t blame you – it’s certainly an investment that’ll stand the test of time and dozens of occasions.
As can be expected, monochrome pairings usually rule the runway in the Autumn/Winter shows, but this year London defied traditions. Although we think there’s nothing wrong with black and white, and all the shades of grey in between, we’re fully behind the notion of adding a pop of colour to your wardrobe. Colour-blocking is a strong place to start; adding a brighter blazer with black trousers or a skirt, and progressing to a bold print shirt.
British weather is known for being incredibly unpredictable; the sun can be shining at the start of the day and it’ll be raining before the sun sets. But you’ll be keeping warm in the colder months of 2017, thanks to Anya Hindmarch. The latter showcased thick knits coupled with smart shorts, oversized coats and capes with furry collars – everything you need to survive the winter. Rich colours were all the rage here, with gorgeous pinks and blues coupled with the warmer tones of mustard yellow and brown.
A trip to the country
The creative director of Mulberry, Johnny Coca, cited the British aristocracy as one of the main points of inspiration for one of their shows. Strutting down the catwalks were asymmetric skirts, quilted capes clearly resembling those worn by equestrian enthusiasts, along with blouses with knotted scarves and cuffs.
Oversized tweed jackets and other classics made their appearance – it’s time to dig out your vintage tweed waistcoat – along with chunky knit socks and heeled boots and loafers. Vintage jewellery is a must, especially when paired with classic colours such as yellow, blue, ginger and a deep oxblood red.
Escaping shirt tails
A final look that makes an easy transition into the workplace, Burberry presented oversized white shirts, with the tails poking out, visible beneath a cropped or more slim-fitting jumper. A crisp white shirt is a go-to office-suitable look that can be easily dressed up or down. Opt for a smarter piece of knitwear if you’re dressing to impress, or a statement printed sweatshirt for a look more suited to casual Fridays.
For more information on what’s acceptable to wear in the workplace see here.
Feeling inspired? Our full business wear range has everything you need to ensure you stay professional but catwalk ready for any occasion.