How 20-somethings are breaking the rules when it comes to office attire


Millennials, known for their love of avocado toast and borderline obsession with social media, are shaking up what it means to be an adult in a whole new way: through office attire.

Guy Voglino,‎ vice president of men's retail global merchandising at Brooks Brothers (the oldest men's clothier in the U.S.), tells CNBC Make It that young people entering the workplace today are dressing more for a lifestyle fit and comfortability than previous generations.

Unlike other generations who picked outfits for a 9-to-5 work day, Voglino says millennial workers are planning for a 9-to-9: They're "dressing to go from the office to dinner or a date. They're dressing for a very active lifestyle."

Voglino notes that although someone in accounting will dress differently than a person working in the creative sector, young professionals across the board are making their own rules. "It's not about a uniform," he tells CNBC Make It.

One of the newest trends he's seeing is sneakers paired with suits, which have long been worn with more formal shoes. However, Voglino says this trend works as long as you're picking the proper shoe.

"You're not wearing your regular gym sneakers," he says. "You're wearing a nice sneaker and still thinking the [shoe choice] through."

Another big trend? Stretch in clothing. Voglino notes that women have been wearing stretch in workplace attire for some time but men are now coming around to it.

"Before it was pure wool or pure cotton," says Voglino. Now you're finding denim with stretch and even chinos with stretch. "Stretch is now well-received for men because it brings comfort to what they're wearing," says the fashion expert.

Young male professionals are also adding their own spin on the standard blue suit. A bright blue suit is the new trendy color, rather than the navy blue that was all the rage before, says Voglino.

Graham Denholm/Getty Images for the VRC

But as much as styles change, some items remain just as popular or even make a comeback. The ever-reliable navy blue blazer or jacket is still a closet staple, says Voglino. There's also a renewed movement for men to dress up and wear suits when required.

Notably, he says, young professionals are changing how they buy suits.

The style maven says buying suit separates is becoming more popular, instead of a full one-piece suit bought together. The reason: It gives professionals the chance to mix-and-match and allows for a better fit, he says.

He adds that a few years ago suits were always worn with a tie, but nowadays you'll see people wearing a suit without a tie and pairing the look with a more casual shoe. "People are really interested in portraying their own style," says Voglino.

Trimmer looks, which were popular in the 50s and 60s, are also back in vogue: Think narrow lapels and shorter jackets. But for trousers, plain flat front pants, instead of pleated, are now what's popular, Voglino says.

As for women, many are still responding well to the pantsuit outfit, which can be seen on the likes of Hillary Clinton and Amal Clooney.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign rally at Arizona State University on November 2, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona.
Getty Images

Although these work looks are becoming popularized by younger professionals, Voglino notes that people of all ages are wearing them. "It's more about a younger attitude than it is about age," he says.

He adds that the most important thing for young people to keep in mind when it comes to workplace wear is to always dress appropriately. "Dress for success and dress to be taken seriously," says Voglino.

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See also:

The dos and don'ts of office attire, according to 2 professional stylists

3 ways to dress for success at work, according to a Wall Street stylist

3 reasons why millennials want to work for Google and Amazon so badly

Easy ways to make your casual clothes appropriate for the office
Easy ways to make your casual clothes appropriate for the office