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THE CONTEMPORARY CODES OF BUSINESS ATTIRE

 
with Jo Ellison

It’s an old tale: summer begins to end as the sight of September approaches, marking the start of the new season. Despite the familiar post-vacation blues, this is a moment filled with returns of pleasant comforts: a well-known routine, the sounds of the coffee maker, the spark of refreshed creativity and, of course, the powerful influence of trusted office wear.

A well-versed personality on the matter is London-based Jo Ellison, celebrated Editor of the Financial Times’ HTSI magazine and connoisseur of all things fashion, culture and lifestyle. As we revisit the business wardrobe for A/W 2022, we invited Ellison to guest edit our collection and take us on a personal journey through modern office clothing. Naturally, the result is a wisdom-filled account of the contemporary codes of business attire.

‘I think I always loved magazines, always loved newspapers, always loved the idea of the media as a forum for debate. I aspired to work in it because it seemed exciting and different and challenging. And I love storytelling and reading. So it didn’t need a huge amount of advertising to persuade me that it was a really exciting thing.’

‘Every day usually starts the night before. I have a look at my diary and I see what the schedule looks like – whether I'm going to the gym, how many meetings I've got. I quite often will have a meeting outside of the office, it might be a lunch appointment. And then very often, as is the way I think for lots of people who live in big cities, I'll have an event in the evening which will require a quite formal outfit and a little bit of consideration. I'm just not the sort of person who likes to change multiple times through the day, or carry like a whole bag of alternative clothes around to change into. So, I really need to be able to wear something in the morning, and that might be from 6:45 AM that can really take me through to like 9 PM, 11:00 PM, which is a challenge, I think.’

’When thinking about the business uniform I’ve always been reluctant to accept that it should ape the men's outfit. I don't think women should wear some kind of weird version of what men wear but what I've learned from 10,000 years of professional life is that, actually, the men's wardrobe works really well because it does the hard work. Men do go to a business dinner and wear the same suit they put on first thing in the morning. Tailoring is the kind of thing that can carry you right through the day. And I think that's why it's so seductive and why it continues to exist and be so strong. And it's not surprising to me that women, professional women, will gravitate towards tailoring, because they know it's gonna go the distance.’

‘There are definitely things that I feel more comfortable in than I do in others, and I think these are the pieces and styles you kind of find through time. For me, it's probably an oversized fit, like a mannish cut. I've always admired those women in history who had utilitarian sense of design and really simple aesthetic. As I’ve got older, I've probably become similarly strict with my own wardrobe. I just want things that work.’

’Key garments for me are very simple. Round-neck, long-sleeve tops, especially in autumn. I like well-cut trousers, quite wide, ideally in neutral colors. I like a blouse, a good blouse or a shirt, I think is a kind of real perennial, although I have to say I do wear them a bit less in the winter because I find they're just too cold. And you need a great blazer. You just know when you put on a great blazer because there's something about the way it makes you feel. I like the idea that a piece of clothing is gonna not need looking after all day, because it needs to look after you.

 

The business wardrobe
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