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5 Ways to Revamp Your Work Wardrobe, According to Rent the Runway’s Style Director

Bid adieu to those boring pre-pandemic suits. The future of workwear—and Y2K fashion—is much more fun.
By Ellen Daly |
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Courtesy of Rent the Runway

Two weeks ago, I had no idea what to wear for my first day at D Magazine. I’d only worked remote internships, and I dreaded surrendering the bold prints and bright colors I don in my day-to-day life for solids and neutrals. To be cautious, I bought some basics—black slacks, closed-toe flats, one of those puffy white shirts they sell at LOFT—but was delighted to discover an in-office chicness I hadn’t anticipated. Women wore little dresses! Heels! The opposite was okay, too—others wore jeans and tank tops. I felt freed from my new, drab wardrobe, but what was I supposed to wear now?

Office-wear is changing, Rent the Runway Style Director Blaire Walsh says. After working from home for years, everyone’s anxious to play dress-up, to express themselves through personal style in a way they just can’t through a Zoom frame. But conversations with colleagues have assured me that I’m not alone in my uncertainty as to what’s office-appropriate, or how to make workwear more fun. 

With Rent the Runway’s third Dallas sample sale running through June 26 over in West Village, I sat down with Walsh to discuss the matter. Here are her staple suggestions to revamp your work wardrobe this summer.

The Wrap Dress

I think wrap dresses deserve some sort of award for being the comfiest way to look effortlessly elegant while still office appropriate. “Wrap dresses have become a new office go-to for many women,” Walsh says. They’re always beautiful, always flattering, and always ease the office-to-dinner-reservation transition with the utmost grace. Seriously, there’s probably not a more worthwhile wardrobe staple for a working woman than this.

The Statement Suit

I love a two-piece set. I mean, c’mon, what’s better than an outfit where the top and bottom are clearly designed to go together? Plus, nowadays, the black blazer’s out, and the bold blazer’s taken her throne. Demand for blazers in “nontraditional” patterns, fabrics, and colors is up 167 percent on Rent the Runway’s site, Walsh says. Of course, these blazers don’t have to be worn with their matching pant. “You can break it up and pair it with your denim, with a traditional pencil skirt, or even with a Bermuda short,” Walsh says.

The Bold Button-Up

Button-ups are an age-old way to spice up your work wardrobe, Walsh says, an enthusiast of the style. My team calls me the ‘button-up queen.’” And because they are available in so many fun colors and prints, why not fill your closet with your favorites? The styling options are just about endless: You can wear them with jeans, slacks, shorts, pencil skirts—whatever you fancy. “I even found one with a built-in bra top,” Walsh says. “It’s great for the workday, but then on the weekend you can open it up and wear it with little jean shorts.”

The Trench Dress

The trench dress might be the simplest way to achieve the refinement of a royal this summer. “Meghan Markle always wears a trench dress,” Walsh says. How could we blame her? Equally suitable for the office or a dinner out, the piece is certainly versatile and always stylish. Now available in a variety of colors and cuts, look for fun variants, like an off-the-shoulder cut or a scalloped waistline. Or stick to the basics with a traditional trench cut.

The Fashion Feat: Y2K at Work

My day-to-day style is pretty Y2K-influenced, and I had no idea how to make that work in the office (how could I highlight my favorite accessory—my midriff?!). Walsh, however, gave me hope. “It’s tough,” she says. “Crop tops are everywhere this season.” The antidote? “Balance it out. If you wear, for example, a tube top, pair it with something high-waisted and tailored, then maybe drape a blazer or cardigan over.”

And if Y2K fashion can be office-appropriate, the sky’s the limit on workwear. Just remember: It’s all about balance.

Find these styles and more at Rent the Runway’s Dallas Sample Sale, open through June 26. 3699 McKinney Ave., ste. 103B. Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.

Author

Ellen Daly

Ellen Daly

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