There’s a vibe of dislocation right now, as people start to go back to their work attire. After entire industries reconfigured themselves around working from home, spinning back into your nine-to-five staples seems bizarre – as if you’re putting on a costume.
For a start, your old clothes either don’t fit (thanks to lockdown, our bodies have merged seamlessly with the sofa) or they do, but they still seem ridiculously tight. I mean, it’s hard to feel as if any clothes that don’t have the wiggle-room of sweatpants or an XL sweatshirt are “fitting correctly” any more.
This shift in what constitutes men’s workwear has been a long time coming. The rise of dress-down Friday and the seeping of athleisure into our everyday wear have knocked the suit off its pedestal. The closure of shops such as Brooks Brothers – home of the 00s preppy look (think the male cast members of Gossip Girl) – signalled the end of an era, too.
As we get used to the feel of a waistband that doesn’t expand, hard-soled shoes and tops with buttons, maybe the best alternative to a suit is going halfway. Historically, it’s been called the broken suit, which sounds quite negative for something that’s forward-looking and gives you many sartorial options.
Today the main star I’m wearing is the Oxford shirt, named for the academic institution with all its brainiac, elite connotations. But the shirt’s understated charms are universal. And despite my pairing it with woolly trousers and beautifully serious Grensons, it’s more versatile than you would think. Channelling Paul Newman in Ivy League glory, early Bob Dylan when he’s still looking like a cool philosophy student, or Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name (when paired with short shorts), the Oxford shirt is your new favourite go-to office wardrobe staple.
• Priya wears shirt, £25, weekday.com. Trousers and shoes, his own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson