The Gen Z Workplace Trend Millennials Fully Endorse (But Boomers? Not as Much)

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Millennials and boomers are constantly rolling their eyes at Gen Z and their quirky trends. What, with their love for Crocs and their loathing of side parts, the nine to 24 demographic is just childish to the older generations. And now that the younger generation is entering the workforce, we expect them to heavily disrupt the status quo and introduce trends they deem to be less cheugy. However, it seems millennials are actually on board with one specific trend Gen Z is ushering in and that’s...loungewear and streetwear as office-appropriate attire. Boomers on the other hand, might need little more convincing.

According to AfterPay’s Bi-Annual Trend Report, Gen Z, who largely entered the workforce remotely, are slowly but surely making their way into the office IRL, and they’re bringing with them the comfortable clothing they got accustomed to while working from home. Though this bunch has never been keen on following any of the formalities millennials and Gen X have stuck with—for instance, their whole take on email sign offs—they’re definitely waving goodbye to office looks from J. Crew or Ann Taylor that millennials embraced and going for even more casual office garb like jeans and hoodie a la Mark-Zuckerberg-chic. And business casual, who? When it comes to Gen X and boomer pencil skirts, blazers and silk blouse combos, Gen Z is like, “I don’t know her.” Instead, they’re showing up in a relaxed fit of loungewear with the oversized shapes of streetwear. In fact, AfterPay reports that sales for plissé sets—oversized loungewear sets made with lightweight, flowy plissé fabric—have already climbed by 14 percent, compared to last year, and we can expect them to continue as more and more of these youngins enter the workforce.

So how do millennials, gen X and boomers feel about their ultra-casual coworkers?

Millennials ushered in smart casual dressing when they entered the workforce—combining formal business wear (button-downs, blouses) with casual pieces (jeans, chinos). So it’s not a huge surprise that they are welcoming the change with open arms. “I used to wear the Sloan Slim Fit pants from Banana Republic every day before the pandemic,” said Angelica Hama, a 32-year-old auditor from New York City. “We have a hybrid work model at my job, and I’m almost exclusively in paper bag waist everything for the three days I have to be in the office.” Other millennials, while they were never beholden to stringent work clothes, are totally behind the movement. “We never had a super strict dress code at my job anyway,” says Christina Rivers, a 28-year-old PR manager, also based in NYC. “So as long as your laidback outfit still looks somewhat put together, I can’t knock it.”

And because we’re all about fairness and transparency around here, we also polled the PureWow offices. The result? A resounding thumbs up in favor of rocking your most comfy ‘fits into the office. (Bonus points if your go-to pants are palazzos).

Admittedly, when we polled boomers on the topic, we fully expected this tradition-loving generation to be all about suits and ties. However, they too have warmed up to the idea of wearing loungewear and streetwear in the workplace. “I work with a team of mostly 20-something-year-olds, and I’m personally not bothered by the looseness of the clothing,” says Theresa Smith, a 57-year-old teacher in Texas. “The colors can be a bit much, but the [silhouette] by itself isn’t a problem.” OK, so while Ms. Smith isn’t necessarily a fan of your gen Z yellow and millennial pink get-ups, rocking your dad jeans is A-OK with her.

7 Items for Your Gen-Z Inspired Workplace Attire

1. Good American Always Fits Plisse Set

Bold colors are all the rage right now, and they’re only that much more striking when you wear them in a monochromatic ensemble.

Buy the pants $100

Size range: 00 to 8

2. Lululemon Stretch High Rise Pant

Perfect for when you want to take casual Friday to the next level, these linen pants from Lululemon make a great substitute for those tailored slacks of yore.

Size range: 0 to 20

3. Mango Cotton Basic Polo Shirt

Because having a nice white shirt is a must for every working woman. Say goodbye to your restrictive button-down and go with this flowy alternative instead.

Size range: XXS to XXL

4. H&m Shirt Dress

No matter how understanding your boss is, they’ll never allow you to come into the office rocking your bathrobe, so opt for the next best thing—a loose-fitting, oversized shirt dress with buttons (because you’re the consummate professional, still.)

Size range: XS to XXL

5. Pacsun Eco Light Blue Dad Jeans

A Gen Z staple even the most hardcore lover of skinny jeans can give a shot.

Size range: 23 to 32

6. Adidas Stan Smith

This classic sneaker topped our list of the best white sneakers—and with good reason. They are easy to dress up or down, and they go with just about any outfit.

7. Sam Edelman Linnie

Because you can’t wear your house slippers to work, go for some trendy mules instead.

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Resident Hufflepuff, Beyonce historian, self-proclaimed tea sommelier

Steph is a native of Zimbabwe who is both enamored and genuinely baffled by the concept of silent letters. From 2020 to 2022, she served as Associate Editor at PureWow covering...