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Sublime style as workwear resumes

The new approach is laidback but stylish in an effortless way

Returning to the workplace presents a fresh opportunity to revamp your office image and even your career prospects. Employees, absent for so long from the usual banter and the typical craic of the business dynamics, need to wean their way back into the office environment gradually. The great sense of relief at having got through the pandemic and back to normality is reflected in a relaxed attitude to office dressing.

The thoughts of whacking on a power shouldered jacket, tights and pencil skirts for women is as unappetising as ties, brogues and cufflinks are for men.  Nobody wants the fuss and unnecessary hassle any more.

The new approach is laidback but stylish in an effortless way. There is more emphasis on quality and comfort with looser fitted blouses, jackets and trousers.

The inimitable designer, Louise Kennedy, unveils a sophisticated selection of wardrobe options for those seeking a luxurious yet elegant return to business. Her super-soft sweaters and Capri pants form a capsule two-piece that's wearable and flexible.


The latest office armour is designed with emphasis on comfort and sustainability in mind as we steer clear of fast fashion labels. Natural breathable fabrics and classic labels are the key to a spring wardrobe with looks that will take you from the office to supper-wear. The days of rooting through retail rags on the bedroom floor-drobe have been replaced with a neater, thoughtful wardrobe.

The female executive on a mission could do worse than bagging a few tips from Sarah Snook, the actress who plays scheming Siobhán in the TV series Succession. As the daughter of a high-rolling maverick she balances the books by teaming her cashmere polo necks with high-waisted wide-legged trousers in her unrelenting efforts to become the boss. She clinches the look with accessories like Gucci belts, gold chains, iconic watches and a ruthless husband while she deftly climbs the corporate ladder in a pair of kitten heels. For those of us who have less cash but equal panache, check out Zara for workwear looks with baggy wool trench coats, palazzo pants and fine ribbed polo necks offering style with a good dollop of sense and practicality.

For menswear there is a similar laissez-faire approach at classic stores like Monaghan's in Dublin where superfine cashmere V-necked sweaters are teamed with cotton chino trousers. The organic range of wool shades are designed to last not only the season but another 10 years as well. Down the street in Dublin the perennially popular Best Menswear store also has a retinue of smartly dressed customers who can choose from the wide range of designer chinos, Italian jackets and open-necked shirts from Boss to Tommy Hilfiger.

If you haven't scaled the dizzy heights of office promotions – no need to fret – Penney's new range for men has been transformed and they have raised their standard of workwear fashion in terms of fabrics and design. If you want a relaxed selection of clean, crisp looks that will escort you from the office desk to the outdoor deck at the nearest al fresco bar, Penneys will have you sorted.

New kid on the block

A new kid on the fashion block is a label called Naya with a far-reaching audience in the UK and Europe. Dresses are feminine but comfortable with loose silhouettes that frame the figure without acting like a Hervé Legere body embalmer. Jackets are lightweight, cool in fabric and casual in style. Colours are classic like black, white and charcoal but given a spring update with soft pink, stone, lime and mint. The designs are a fresh contemporary range that are reminiscent of golden days of the Dublin Design Centre when maestros like Mariad Whisker, Helen McAlinden and Mary Grant held sway. The cuts are asymmetric and non-conventional with dipped skirts and pinafores that can be worn over T-shirts in the summer or more formally with cardigans and blouses for business.

The wide cuff trousers have given the skinny legged looks the boot and they have sprinted off the catwalk.

As work travel resumes, many of us will be travelling for business again so all these laidback looks can be easily suit cased as they are in natural materials that don’t crease easily. Post-Covid weeks are too short for ironing as well as stuffing mushrooms and olives. So put the pinstriped suits into the back of your wardrobe and the stiff collared shirts in the hot press as workwear resumes with a relaxed sense of ease.

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times