Today, we’re breaking down the 2010s business casual revival. In Anatomy Of An Aesthetic, Her Campus dissects the latest style trends to tell you where they came from, why they matter, and how to DIY.
It might be time to stow away those sweats you’ve been wearing since March 2020, because 2010s business casual is back, baby.
You’ll probably remember that as a decade, the 2010s were ruled by the rise of the girl boss archetype. She ruled the office and called the shots. As she did, she wore high-waisted polyester pants, chunky statement jewelry, and pointy stiletto heels (according to a 2014 interview with Nasty Gal founder and original #GirlBoss Sophia Amuroso, at least). She was also short-lived. The turn of the decade saw the girl boss deemed uncool and, actually, not that feminist. So if you’re skeptical that Hillary Clinton’s pant suits are the right fit for this era of fashion, that’s understandable. But hear me out, because this trend is perfect for the 2020s, despite its name.
The resurgence of office-wear like suits and dressier trousers, peep-toe shoes, and bodycon dresses feels like an offshoot of last autumn’s leisure clothing vs. runway-ready style quandary, or an attempt to do both at once. For instance, blazers aren’t as buttoned-up now (pun totally intended). Instead of sticking to such a traditional fabric or structured shape, October 2021 saw the leather blazer trend hitting Instagram explore pages everywhere, and Who What Wear has predicted that a collarless, slouchier version of this corporate staple will be huge throughout 2022. In other words, we might actually be taking the “comfy over chic” attitude from the early pandemic days with us, even as we dress ourselves up for the great outdoors.
Speaking of, the monochromatic suit set trend (seen above on a 2011 Rihanna) could be considered a fancier cousin of the matching sweat suit from 2020. Even your biz-cas shoes are going to skew more 2020s function than 2010s style: According to Vogue, you’ll want to keep those stiletto pumps (worn by 2010s pop culture icons like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep) in the past, in favor of flatter options like a loafer or kitten heel. Your loafers can even do double-duty for you, if you’re planning to include the twee aesthetic in your closet, too.
Still not convinced? How about the comeback of the tiny vest trend, worn by celebs like Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa? I know what you’re thinking — vests are for guys who wear fedoras. But hear me out: Whether you opt for something structured, a knit sweater vest, or a more daring leather one, you can wear it as a shirt with nothing underneath, as Kendall Jenner did. Ta-da! Vests are sexy now. The beauty of this aesthetic is that most of us won’t actually be wearing it into the office, meaning we can avoid those stringent dress codes and play around with strategically showing skin.
Alright, enough talking. It’s time to go shopping and upgrade your wardrobe to be 2010s office-ready, with a twist. If you want to try out the 2010s business casual look for yourself, get started with these chic pieces.
- Oversized blazer
Rather than wearing a tight jacket that’s going to constrict your movement, try out a breathable, oversized blazer in a fun color. You can dress it up, with accent jewelry and a tapered pant, or dress it down, by putting it on over bike shorts like the model shown here.
- Tiny vest
Test out the shest (shirt vest) look for yourself with a racerback vest like this, which will show a little more skin with its racerback style. Pair it with a mini skirt for an extra-flirty look.
- Wide-leg dress pants
The beauty of a wide-leg pant is that it feels super comfy, while looking elegant and dressy enough to be perfect for a night out. Don’t be afraid of going vibrant here — if you want to achieve a monochrome look, you can match the pants color to your top, or keep everything else neutral so your bottoms take center stage.
- Thick neutral belt
A thicker belt will pull your whole look together (and hold up your trousers). Be careful, though — you’ll want to stick to a simple, solid color one that will keep your outfit streamlined rather than busy.
- Mini skirt
As Vogue pointed out, super short skirt suits have made a splash on the runway this year, but you don’t have to go quite that short if you’re not comfortable. Either way, pencil skirts have long been an office-wear essential, and the bodycon/bandage silhouette was huge in the 2010s, according to L’Officiel. You can easily mix and match different tops with your pencil mini skirt, too — it’s a versatile must-have.
- Kitten heel
Gone are the days of suffering in too-high heels, and thank the fashion gods for that. A kitten heel is much more manageable, while still giving you enough height to feel like a baddie. A slingback strap design will further prevent old-school stuffiness by showing off a bit of ankle.
- Monochrome short suit set
In this case, the “casual” in business casual means shorts. You may not think of shorts as office-appropriate, but they get an upgrade when color-matched with a long-sleeved blazer and belt. If the belt’s not your style, you could choose a tie waist instead, since it will feel a little less restricting.
- Crossbody bag
A simple crossbody bag with little touches of gold or silver is both practical and cute. If your outfit’s already colorful, you’ll probably want to stick to something more neutral, but don’t be afraid to experiment!
- Statement necklaces
While you might opt for minimalism throughout the rest of your outfit, accessories are one place you can have a bit more fun. Rather than donning one giant, chunky necklace, try layering different chain types and pendants to create a more laidback, unique look.
Want comfort and style? A loafer is your new BFF. You can elevate this shoe with a shinier finish, or decorative add-ons like tassels, that will take this look from stuffy to chic.
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