Unboring Ways To Wear Work Trousers Anywhere

They’re not just for the office.

by Emma Childs and Jess Ferguson
Originally Published: 
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You certainly don’t need to be told how much the workforce has changed over the past few years. You lived through dark days of wearing sweatsuit after sweatsuit, signing on to Zoom from your living room while your pandemic puppy yips for attention in the background. Now, over three years from when the world changed in all those unprecedented ways, the pendulum has swung completely away from WFH loungewear to favor traditional professional attire once again. Namely, the trend circuit is exploring cool ways to wear work trousers — envision a fashion girl sporting pinstripe slacks to the club or showing up to a lazy Sunday brunch in tailored, front-pleat pants.

Taylor Tomasi Hill, global head of programming at Pinterest, weighs in on 2023’s trouser trend and even equates it to the business casual era of the 2010s. “The biggest difference now is a relaxed fit and modern styling,” she explains. “It’s a soft, wide-leg trouser with a sneaker, not a straight-leg with a peep toe,” Hill describes. Afterpay’s 2022 Bi-Annual Trend Report substantiates Hill’s point and specifically cites Gen Z as the harbingers of the laid-back approach to professional dressing. “Older Gen Zs who have entered the workforce in a virtual world are combining the comforts of loungewear with relaxed, oversized shapes of streetwear to achieve a new young professional look,” the fin-tech company shares with TZR.

What’s more, this unpretentious, more fluid take on workwear invites androgyny and the shirking of traditional gender norms. “As a genderless trend, men and women are adopting the same styles in the form of baggier clothing such as oversized jackets and looser fitting pants with ‘unisex’ items up 154% year-over-year,” Afterpay reports.

Ultimately, however, Hill says the “renewed love of trousers is more likely a gradual evolution of our style choices emerging from the pandemic.” She explains: “Our daily schedules and wardrobes were thrown a curveball and after loungewear became status quo, we’re naturally inclined to want something more structured — to get ‘dressed,’ but in a way that feels fresh.”

Over email with TZR, founder and Creative Director of AERON, Eszter Áron, echoes Hill. “The past stay-at-home years of comfort truly made us value that we have a job,” she says. “Now we really praise the time that we have the chance to work, especially to show up at work.” She continues, saying the newfound appreciation for workwear dressing has an almost nostalgic element, too. “An office is an exciting place to be, and this excitement really calls back memories of [getting dressed] and going to school as a kid,” Áron describes.

Áron admits, however, that it’s not easy for women to find the new go-to suited trousers. “It’s specific; it needs research and time to find the perfect pair. It’s so much easier to throw a blazer on over a pair of jeans,” the AERON founder acknowledges. “Overcoming the challenge of finding the perfect suiting trousers is difficult,” she says, adding that shopping for the ideal pair of tailored trousers is a form of work in and of itself. Luckily, though, both she and Hill have plenty of tips for sourcing your new favorite professional trousers and insight for styling the bottoms in various outfits. All that — and some TZR-curated edits to shop — ahead.

Relaxed, Both In Mood & Silhouette

As Hill explains above, 2023’s approach to business casual emphasizes the casual aspect. She shouts out Co and Everlane’s baggy trousers, saying both brands “have great options with exaggeratedly relaxed shapes that would look great with a white tank and chunky loafers or a lug-sole sandal.”

Zoom Meetings By The Pool

“I’ve been gravitating toward neutral trousers, paired with similar neutral hues for a tonal look,” describes Hill. The insider says a pair of muted trousers — Nili Lotan’s Dillon Pant, in particular — also make for the perfect component to a beachcore-inspired outfit. “[They’re] one of my favorites to wear with an all-white, cropped tee. You could even wear them with a bikini top or rashguard,” offers Hill. “Why not? It’s summer!”

Embrace The Unexpected

Áron encourages you to think outside of the box with your trouser outfits. “Suiting garments come into a new life when styled with knitwear, especially, or when a beautifully constructed piece is cut in a floaty or rustic material, like linen or leather,” the founder describes. Áron adds, too, that bold, dopamine-boosting colors — hot pink, for instance — are another method of reinvigorating your workwear styling.

Casual Yet Confidence-Boosting

“Women are playful today when it comes to dressing up and are confident in mixing elegant styles with casual pieces,” describes Áron, pointing to pairings like loose trousers and a leather bomber jacket as an imaginative approach to styling the tailored piece. She says structured trousers teamed with more laid-back pieces can even create a confidence-boosting effect: “In a comfortable world, suiting also signals being proud of your ambition, signals being in control of your life, and making decisions on your own behalf.”

Corporate, But Make It Cool

“Some offices are still entirely remote, some are back in the office, and some are flex. But ultimately, we’re back in the world: taking meetings, traveling, meeting with teams,” explains Hill. When navigating the sartorial expectations for 2023’s workforce, Hill says to fall back on simplicity. “You want to always feel good in what you’re wearing, and I think we gravitate towards strong dressing and minimalism for those encounters.” She recommends styling a black tuxedo pant with an oversized button-down and sculptural jewelry for an in-office look that’s far from stuffy.

Subversive Styling

Áron once again encourages you to explore a breadth of possibilities when curating your very own cool-girl, workwear trouser outfit. Perhaps you may even go so far as to introduce a pair of pinstripe trousers into your arsenal of going-out staples. A sultry cutout top and skin-tight boots will complete the look.

Summer Suiting

A pro tip from Áron: try a lightweight, two-piece suited look this summer. As the granddaughter of a traditional men’s tailor, she has always been enamored with the art of suiting. “I am fascinated by the precision and architecture that goes into creating the perfect garment,” she says, citing a peek at a garment’s lining or piping as an example. “For me, reversing a tailored piece comes with the same excitement when my husband looks into the engine of a sports car.”

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