Releasing office dress codes feels like true liberation. Now I feel am the rebel wearing a matching jacket with trousers
It’s been difficult for me to understand why I suddenly want to wear suits, despite never being a suit-wearer. Over the years I have worn trousers, shirts, dresses, blazers, skirts, sweaters, and just about any other type of clothing to work. Except for the fact that I have never worn a matching jacket, trousers or jacket and skirt.
I wouldn’t have worn a suit to work if I didn’t have a chef’s white, scrubs or hard hat. A suit was like a school uniform. If you must wear it, you do. But if it is not required, it is not something you can wear for fun. It would be strange. For my university interviews, my mum bought me a skirt-suit – plum color, nubbly wool – from Hobbs. It is still a part of me that I remember, as I waited nervously in stuffy corridors to act calm and competent adulthood.
I hadn’t bought a suit until 2021. It felt like I was reliving my adult life, but this year it was like going back to work. After months of typing words on a laptop at home for months, the office theatre with its strip lights, printer sounds, and hydraulic chairs that wheeze up, down, felt like a slow-motion, lo-fi fairground. The colleagues are more likely to give constructive feedback and interact with each other than the dog who enjoys a pat on his head and a snack. The cacophony of getting a canteen cup of coffee is much more entertaining than the slipper shuffle to get the kettle.
A suit is the ultimate cosplay for going to work, and I feel that a suit suits my needs, so I have started wearing a trouser-suit. It’s not a suit. I just have a pair of tailored, flecked wool trousers from Jigsaw. They are almost identical in colour to my unstructured Cos jacket. Combining the two was like taking baby steps to wear a suit. It’s almost like letting air out of swimming armbands slowly.
Just when you think they are going out of fashion, suits are back in style. Marks & Spencer announced that it will eliminate men’s suits in half its larger stores as a response to our casualisation.
I’m seeing more suits on fashion shows, both on the catwalk and in the front row, than ever before. On the London catwalks, there were many trouser suits. Paris was filled with cute miniskirt suits. It is now possible to have a suit that is not rigidly associated with one type of office discipline and it being optional. This gives the suit a new lease on life.
The big news is that I have discovered that a suit is an excellent option for smart daywear. Who would have thought? Yes, that’s a good point. It is probably the millions of people who have worn suits to work for decades. Not me. I don’t tend to wear my suit-that-isn’t-a-suit with a traditional shirt, because I quickly feel crumpled, but I’m a scruff. This suit looks great with a buttoned-up polo shirt and a ribbed cardigan. Or, if it’s cooler, a chunky funnel neck knit.
Next, I’m going to make a skirt suit. I am thinking of a short skirt with a jacket that is not too long and possibly double-breasted. Tights and loafers are what I am thinking. I don’t believe I’ve ever desired a more traditional look in my life. I don’t believe I’ve ever felt more like a maverick.