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What New Yorkers Should Expect From Back-to-Office Styles This Fall

By Stacey LastoeSep 28 2021
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Clueless yellow plaid. Paisley ties. Rich textures, bold patterns, and head-to-toe outfits.

Fashion industry insiders predict dashing looks this fall. As many New Yorkers prepare to return to the office for the first time in 18-odd months, it’s not exactly business as usual. Countless Zoom meetings and video conferencing calls are slowly giving way to in-person meetings, business lunches, and post-work happy hours, all of which are contributing to the invigorating zeal around fall fashion.

Leggings and sweats might have sufficed in a remote work environment, but that may be a limited option as many companies transition to hybrid schedules and in-person meetings replace Zoom calls — at least a couple days out of the workweek. It’s bound to feel fun and fresh to dress for the office again after months of rolling out of bed and logging on remotely.

Freemans Sporting Club
Freemans Sporting Club

“I think we're excited to dress up again a little, but without sacrificing the comforts of working from home,” says Nikko Lencek-Inagaki, director of design and merchandising at Freemans Sporting Club. The menswear line is opening a pop-up retail location in Rockefeller Center just in time for the back-to-office shopping rush.

From Freemans to Jill Lindsey to Maje — just a few stores included in Rockefeller Center’s blockbuster array of clothing retailers — there’s a clear and convincing case for getting stoked about dressing to impress. There’s also an argument in favor of shopping IRL. Online shopping is convenient, but unless your apartment has great lighting, good full-length mirrors, and fashion-savvy roommates, it may not make the ideal setting for making wise clothing purchases this season.

What the Experts Are Saying About Fall Trends

Maje, a Paris brand for “the girl on the go,” is all about fun dresses this fall. Christina Mason, the manager of the Rockefeller Center location, says there’s a palpable excitement around shopping right now. Along with interest in the iconic pieces that Mason says Maje works into the clothing line season after season with variations on fabric and color, “​​We are also seeing that the people [who] work locally here are loving our dresses because you can transition them from the office; take the blazer [or] sweater off, and then you're ready to go out for the night.”

Along with the yellow plaid pattern that the 1995 cult classic Clueless epitomized, Maje shoppers can expect other bold prints and richly textured pieces, such as a hunter green cashmere dress.

Jill Lindsey
Jill Lindsey

As to what’s in vogue for the return to the office? Brocade dresses, tons of color, big shoulders, and dressy, fashion-forward pieces with hardware. Wearing jewelry and other accessories — “making outfits” — is very much in, says Jill Lindsey, whose eponymous brand is one of the latest retailers to set up shop in the midtown destination. While the independent retailer (the first in Rockefeller Center) always carries a number of black and navy-colored pieces of clothing, Lindsey says she learned the hard way that “black is the slowest color to sell,” among her customers. That’s slated to be more true than ever this year.

Luxurious fabrics appear to be having their heyday. Lencek-Inagaki says he’s been “seeing guys circling around to soft, luxury classics like camel hair coats, cotton/silk velvet holiday jackets, and hardy Harris Tweed sport coats (which look fantastic on a date with a fisherman turtleneck and jeans).”

Although Lindsey thinks “everyone is kind of tired of wearing comfortable clothes,” and wants “something a little bit more structured or colorful,” she explains this doesn’t have to come at the expense of actually feeling comfortable in the attire draping your body.

“So if it's a structured piece, maybe the fabric is very comfortable,” Lindsey says, adding that if it’s a pair of pants, “it accentuates in the right places.” Sometimes structure is in the details as with Peruvian designer Saya, a “really wonderful, sustainable brand,” says Lindsey, “that adds nice touches like beading or pocket trim to clothing items.”

How to Make Your Office Look Go From Day to Night

One of the pieces Mason is particularly enthusiastic about is a “really cute staple dress, black with a little white collar.” It’s a classic — with a welcome twist. But, while dressing up may be de rigueur this fall, dresses are not mandatory.


Maje’s denim pants come in three different washes at the moment, and the brand also has a distressed jean with an open knee, suggesting that rigid business dress codes are on their way out for some companies. Pair fitted denim jeans with black leather boots and perhaps a retro, green-printed top, and you’re ready for both a day at the office and for happy hour after the workday has ended.

And, of course, over at Freemans Sporting Club, pants are anything but an afterthought. The brand sells an impressive selection of ready-to-wear items, but it is first and foremost a custom tailor, explains Drew Chambers, who works with Armscye, the marketing agency representing Freemans. They believe fervently in the power of an impeccably tailored suit, which Lencek-Inagaki says “need not be an uncomfortable, serious, or sweaty burden.” He continued, “A good custom suit is an armature that's purpose-built so your body looks and feels great. It's delegating at its best; you just put it on.”

At the end of the day, the old adage rings true: You’ve got to look good to feel good. As you experience those first-day-of-school vibes if you’re returning to the office this fall, make sure you’re doing it in style in the city that reimagines fashion season after season.

Shop the latest autumn and officewear trends at Maje (610 Fifth Avenue, open Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm), Jill Lindsey (30 Rockefeller Plaza, open Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 11am-7pm), and Freemans Sporting Club (30 Rockefeller Plaza, open Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm).

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