Ask a Fashion Editor: How to Inject Youthful Flair Into Your Work Wardrobe
In this edition of ask a fashion editor, we recommend some key pieces for those looking to inject a youthful flare into their work wardrobe. Photo: Solidcolours/Getty Images
Have a style dilemma or query? Send us your fashion-related question via Facebook and Zoomer’s Fashion Director-at-Large Derick Chetty will select one to answer in his column.
QUESTION: I’m 62, still enjoy my work as a graphic artist but have much younger co-workers … would like to know how to dress with a youthful flair. What key pieces should I include in my work wardrobe? —Stephanie L., Nova Scotia
ANSWER: Great question. It’s a style conundrum many people face in their profession as they advance in age while colleagues and bosses seemingly get younger. While you might be the embodiment of seasoned experience at your job, it’s understandable you also want to look like you fit in and be engaged in the camaraderie of your work environment. Even with current WFH status, you want to project an astute vibrant self-image on those high-definition Zoom calls with clients, co-workers and management and not be viewed as the the old guard – literally and figuratively.
Among the many roles fashion plays in our lives, it is also a visual language. Regardless of one’s age, our choice of clothing can signal a sense of membership to a particular style tribe or even an affiliation to certain careers. Because you work in a creative field, you should take advantage of the bolder fashion choices and experimentation allowed in your profession, unlike the more restrictive dress codes employed in the corporate world.
But while we might all covet the style cues of the young, don’t dismiss the sage style wisdom that comes with age. Seasoned fashionistas are a wealth of inspiration. Case in point: this fall, uber-cool Parisienne streetwear label, A.P.C. (Atelier de Production et de Creation), known for putting a cool spin on wardrobe classics, recruited the legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve to design a capsule collection for their youthful brand. The 76-year-old, a muse to the late great couturier Yves Saint Laurent and widely considered a paragon of formidable chic, took inspiration from some of her movies (her star-making turn in the 1967 movie Belle du Jour, still inspires young designers today). Focusing on cut and fabrics for the capsule collection, she ensures her A.P.C. designs will be treasured over time.
Since I don’t have a sense of your personal style or preferences, I’m going to offer examples in various clothing categories for injecting a youthful sensibility into your manner of dressing. Hopefully, you will find one that is appealing and can be easily adopted to your existing work wardrobe.
THE BLOUSE One of the major trends this fall is an item from the wardrobe of the affluent bourgeoisie French woman of the 1970s: a soft blouse with a pussy-bow neckline or ruffled front. The print, colour and texture is tailored-made for your next meeting on Zoom and is also a great alternative to ubiquitous sweaters.
Styling tip Instead of wearing it with suitings or tailored slacks like those French women in the 1970s, take a cue from today’s youth and pair with denim.
Nappa leather and neoprene Flexure Runner sneaker, $180, ecco.com
THE SNEAKER Nothing injects a youthful vigour to your wardrobe quite like a pair of sneakers. Once exclusively rooted in the sports domain, this casual shoe in the past few years has successfully crossed over to red carpets, weddings and office cubicles. It is truly the most modern 24-7 footwear. But when it comes to choosing a sneaker for your day job, leave the flashy technicolour and performance traits for your gym gear and opt for sophisticated neutrals and simple designs.
Styling tip Wear with dresses and skirts.
Knit hoodie, $60, zara.com
THE HOODIE Incorporate this athletic staple in your work wardrobe, but look for luxury materials such as cashmere or fine knits. Also look for design details such as bell sleeves and the absence of cuffed hems which help elevate and separate the office hoodie from the more sporty and casual counterparts.
Styling tip As tempting as it might be to pair it with the matching pant (save that look for weekends), wear it with a tailored pant or tweed skirt for the office and accessorize with a long pendant necklace.
Pleated skirt, $60, Uniqlo.com
THE SKIRT Classic items are always a good wardrobe investment but sometimes unexpected twists to the design gives it a modern sensibility. The pointed hem on this knife-pleated skirt makes it more memorable than matronly – and bonus points for the elasticized waistband, which gives it extra comfort and ease.
Styling tip Pair this soft skirt with a chunky or heavy knit sweater.
High Rise Vegan Leather Pintuck Leggings, $129, bananarepublic.ca
THE PANT Leggings were one of the most popular items in the last decade, which helped to helped ignite the athleisure trend – and it’s not going away anytime soon, having successfully won most young women over with their comfort and versatility. To make them acceptable workwear, look for luxe fabrications, such as leather or suede – both real and faux. This pair with a pin-tuck detail in front gives it more of a trouser feel, and the high waist provides added protection from the dreaded muffin-top look.
Style tip Wear with a long tunic top that reaches at least to the bottom of your hips or mid-thigh to make them acceptable in the office.
Leather wrap dress, $790, cosstores.com
THE DRESS You might be spoiled for choices when it comes to buying a dress, but opt for the less obvious choice: a wrap dress in leather. It’s a material that traditionally evokes images of youthful rebellion but, cut as a feminine dress, it is also modern with a touch of edgy hipness. While pricey, it’s a worthy investment because the soft supple material ensures you can wear it year-round.
Styling tip During winter months, wear a fine-gauge turtle neck sweater underneath.