Contrary to the fact ‘90s style – in all its sharp shouldered glory – is one of the biggest trends in high fashion right now, high stakes workwear has never looked softer. 

Forget classic Working Girl movie wardrobe power suits and black pencil skirts – the boldest looks to rule the boardroom are chic, fluid and incorporate fashion-forward elements that mean a swift shoe swap and slick of bright lipstick is all it takes to transition from office to night out.

So what exactly are style-centric women wearing to work this season? We asked Nimmi Premaratne, womenswear designer for Country Road, which recently launched a new collection of work/life office attire filled with luxe tailored pieces, for the trend lowdown.

The best news? You don’t need to be office-bound to take advantage. All of these looks work just as well for creative fields and smart casual weekend soirees too. After all – style is style, whatever the arena. Just ask Amal Clooney.

Nimmi Premaratne in her own satin trench from the new Country Road workwear collection

TREND 1 Fluid fabrics This means soft silks, satins and high quality (non-crush) polyesters, rather than starched shirts and thick polyester or ponte. “It’s all about accentuating the languid form and really considering the woman and giving her that soft fluidity and making her feel really luxe,” says Premaratne. 

Veronica Beard, Sierra Ruched Dress in Light Blue, $654. SHOP NOW

WEAR WITH: Oroton, Getty Flapover Tote, $795. SHOP NOW

Trend 2 Matching pieces There’s nothing new about the concept of a black or navy suit for work, but what we’re talking about here is matching separates, tapping into the same trend (generally involving bold prints) that’s cropped up on ready-to-wear runways the past two seasons. “It doesn’t have to be totally matchy-matchy, but it does make it easier to look polished and it’s beautiful,” says Premaratne. 

DVF, Oversized Shirt in Borel Stripe French Blue, $460. SHOP NOW

DVF, Full-Length Soft Pant in French Blue, $418. SHOP NOW 

Wear with: Calvin Klein, Flared Satchel with Chain in Pink, $922. SHOP NOW

Trend 3 Gold hardware High fashion with a touch of cool factor. “The gold detailed military trend done by labels like Chloe on the runways was a really strong theme, so I wanted to introduce it into the collection to give it that element of fashion.” Add it through shoes, buttons, belts and jewellery.

Camilla and Marc, Claudel Blazer in Ecru, $750. SHOP NOW

wear with: Swarovski, Crystal Dust Hooped Pierced Earrings in Gold Tone, $89. SHOP NOW 

Trend 6 Puddle pants Probably the edgiest look to transition from runway to real life office looks, extra-long wide culottes are ideal when made in the fluid fabrics mentioned above and teamed with matching pieces. “Puddle pants – and yes, that is the actual fashion industry term – are named that way not because they fall into puddles, but because [the hem] drapes like a puddle on the ground,” says Premaratne. “Uber long is definitely what’s on trend. I’ve actually got a size larger on so I can wear mine low [on my hips] and a little more boyish.”

Country Road, Satin Wide Legged Pant in Cognac, $139. SHOP NOW

Trend 3 Rich natural hues “There will always be space for the basic blacks, creams and nudes, but this season there’s also the rich blues and cognac, which feel far more luxe and are really on pointe,” says Premaratne. Better still, wear them together in the same fabric to striking effect. 

Theory, Nibel Crepe Blazer in Navy, $221. SHOP NOW 

Wear WITH: Swarovski, Alegria crystal bezel watch in blue, $499. SHOP NOW

Trend 4: The new trench “The right tailored trench coat can easily be worn to a presentation, then out to dinner later and over jeans on a weekend,” says Premaratne. The trick is to find a slim flit in fluid rather than stiff or waterproof fabric. “Popping on a satin trench automatically makes you feel dressed up. And on a practical level in places like Melbourne or Sydney, you’ve got a jacket if it suddenly rains or turns cold.” 

Prada, Two-tone silk-faille trench coat, $3050. SHOP NOW xCR_FebWorkLife_03_0272
Country Road AW17 Work/Life Collection  Credit: supplied

Cover image: Courtesy Camilla and Marc (Black and navy blazer, White blazer). SHOP HERE