Now that school holidays are over it’s time to officially get back into work mode. I wanted to set the tone for the year with a new office look and couldn’t go past classic black and white.
I’ve always been a fan of monochrome outfits, particularly for work because they’re always guaranteed to look polished and professional. Of course working in fashion allows me to play with cuts and silhouettes a little more than a corporate setting and loved that this Bec and Bridge look had a modern sensibility but maintained the sharp, sophisticated feel of a black and white colour palette.
The beauty of these pieces is that while they work beautifully together I can easily pair them with other pieces already in my wardrobe. I can easily dress the skirt down with a tee, while the shirt could go with denim. I love plenty of versatility when it comes to any new additions to my closet.
I decided to stick the the same colour palette with my accessories. So white pumps by Bottega Veneta and simple black sunglasses by Poppy Lissiman were the perfect complementary additions to this ensemble. Now, I’m officially ready to throw myself into a busy new work year!
One of the things I like doing every year is re-evaluating my work wardrobe and seeing what pieces need updating and what gaps there are to fill. Having my own business means I have a little more flexibility in my office attire but I’ve always still approached what I wear in much the same way I did when I was working a full time job at a newspaper and that is to look professional and polished at all times.
If getting dressed for work every day has become a bit of a struggle then you know that it’s time to reassess what you have and think about giving your style a bit of a refresh. Here are a few great places to start when it comes to your office style.
Have the basics
The concept of office basics really depends on what kind of environment you work in. A corporate workplace will have a different dress code to a more relaxed creative environment, but the most important thing is identifying the building blocks of every look. So whether it’s a well tailored suit or jeans and a blazer, you need to ensure that these pieces are front and centre in your closet. Having this in place means you can afford to play around with your looks a little more.
Incorporate new accessories
Accessories are one of the easiest ways in which you can take your look up a notch and inject a little more personality into your work wardrobe. A great pair of earrings, a stylish bangle or a necklace are all simply ways in which you can inject a little new energy into your attire.
Change your work bag
It’s easy to carry the same bag day in and day out but it can also get a little monotonous. Your work bag is one of the easiest places to give your office wardrobe a refresh. This year, why not try something different? If you usually carry a tote, swap to a shoulder bag and vice versa. Push the boundaries as far as your office dress code will allow and have a little fun. After all, it’s the one accessory that you will carry with you every single day so you may as well love it.
Experiment with new silhouettes
Everyone has their go-to pieces for work. I know I have a few that I turn to all the time. However this year why not make a commitment to try new things? If you tend to favour knee length styles opt for a midi instead. If you’re a fan of voluminous pieces try incorporating a few more form fitting items into your wardrobe. A new silhouette can often make your work attire feel new.
Introduce bold accents
It’s easy to get caught up in the wonderful word of wearability that is neutrals but an easy way to refresh your work looks is to incorporate a few bold items into your ensembles. A striking print here or a vibrant shade there can easily lift an outfit and bring it to life. You can also temper this according to your office dress code so it’s easily adaptable.
Good or bad, our office attire is often one of the major things that people use to judge us in the workplace. So it goes without saying that there’s no harm in looking the part with a sleek, polished wardrobe that screams professional.
When I used to work a nine-to-five job I was always looking for ways I could rework my looks without having to splurge on something new all the time, as working as a fashion editor, it was almost written into my job description that I had to look on trend. Even now with a more varied schedule that takes me from my desk to a function to a shoot on any given day, I still try to maintain a certain level of polish whilst still incorporating elements of what’s trending at the moment; and that requires having to think strategically about what’s worth investing in. That said, trust me when I say that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a complete revamp. It’s all about identifying the key pieces that will take your workwear next-level. Here are a few staples that I think can elevate any look whether you work in a corporate environment or a creative space…
It’s pretty much a given that you’ll always have a work bag with you so given how heavily it features in your office wardrobe it pays to go for something that’s chic and classic, with some detail that helps give it a little personality. I find a tote or a structured top handle bag is always a safe bet but you could also try a shoulder bag with a longer strap if you’re not one to carry a lot of things on a day to day basis. Look for extra details such as a gorgeous clasp or handle style, metal hardware or a textured finish. This is one thing I’d recommend looking to buy the best quality you can afford given how often you’re wearing it.
It’s a good idea to have a pair of really amazing work shoes in your collection. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a pair of black pointed pumps. However if you want something a little different you could always try a slingback style for a shoe that’s on trend and guaranteed to get plenty of use.
I’m all for bold accessories but work is one place where it’s a good idea to dial it down a notch. I don’t think you can go wrong with a pair of simple studs or a delicate necklace. If you’re a watch person, a beautiful timepiece is an outfit addition that will feel right at home in the workplace .
I don’t think you need to spend an absolute fortune on your work wardrobe but I would look to invest in the workhorses of your office looks. Pieces like a pair of black pants, a white button down shirt, an A-line or pencil skirt and a wool or cashmere sweater are all things that would be on high rotation so therefore it stands to reason that you’d invest a little more in them to ensure their longevity.
What are some of your favourite ways to elevate your work wardrobe?
Considering that you carry your work bag around almost every single day it pays to get it right. From a cost per wear perspective I’m all about investing in a quality leather bag for the office. Purchasing a piece that’s well crafted and can withstand the wear and tear of having to carry all your essentials around with you—everything from a laptop to your lunch is a worthwhile buy as you’ll have it by your side most days of the week. That said, you don’t have to compromise on style. There are so many gorgeous bags out there that tick the box for both form and function, in varying price points so you’ll definitely find one to suit your budget. To ensure you get maximum wear from your bag choose a classic colour that can work back with myriad outfits—think black, navy, tan or chocolate brown, even burgundy if you want a slightly more fashion forward option. And hey, if you have to head into work every day at least you can have a great piece of arm candy to carry with you!
To get your started on your search, check out a few of my picks below…
When I was working full time I used to always wear high heels to the office. I know when it comes to workwear it can be nice to have a little height in the footwear department to help add some polish to an outfit but I’ve since learned that flats can work equally as well, if not more so. These days when I’m going to office I may have the girls in the morning or in the afternoon so my outfit has to look professional yet be comfortable at the same time. This is where I’ve found having a great flats wardrobe can come in handy. These are some of my dos and don’ts of wearing them to work…
Do experiment with different flats
I’ve found the best flats for the office are ballet flats, brogues and loafers [the closed kind not slides as these can look a little too casual] and flat boots for winter [see in order below]. Try to keep your flats as streamlined and simple as possible to keep them professional.
Do wear flats with dresses
If you tend to favour dresses for the office you’ll be pleased to hear that you can get away with swapping your heels in favour of flats for this particular look. I’ve found that flats look really great with tailored dresses and maintains a classy effect.
Winning combination: Alexa Chung does ballet flats and a dress/ Image via Stockholm Street Style
Do opt for a slim trousers
Wide leg pants are on trend this season but I’ve found that they tend to work better with heels, especially if you’re on the shorter side. However when it comes to slim fitting trousers you can definitely afford to go with flats. A slim silhouette will help elongate your figure and when teamed with flats it looks very Audrey Hepburn-esque.
Don’t forget to flash some ankle
Make sure that if you’re wearing pants that they’re cropped so you are showing some ankle. This length will tend to be a little more flattering when worn with pants.
Do keep your look quite preppy
Flats such as man-style loafers and ballet flats work are a match made in heaven with a preppy-style outfit. Think a collared white shirt and a knee length skirt. It’s a little collegiate, definitely office appropriate and a stylish alternative to traditional corporate wear.
Image: Stockholm Street Style
Don’t forget about the finishing touches
Flats don’t have to be boring. Keep an eye out for interesting finishing touches. Tassels, discreet bows, or a metal horsebit accent are all great ways to take an ordinary flat from so-so to stylish. One of my favourite brogues has a metal toe cap (see pic above) and I find that this helps give them a point of difference.
Do leave socks at home
A lot of flats look better sans socks so make sure to give them a miss. As I said earlier, flashing some ankle is flattering as it helps to emphasise the slimmest part of your leg. Also, socks can look a little too bulky.
Do team flats with opaque stockings
In winter I know going bare legged can be a little chilly so pairing a pair of flat boots with opaque black stockings and a nice dress is a good office appropriate look. I tend to favour stockings in black as opposed to nude as it looks much fresher and more modern.
Tell me – are you a fan of wearing flats to the office?
Your nine-to-five wardrobe doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, office wear can easily become fashion forward with just a few key pieces. I know some workplaces are a little more flexible with their dress codes than others but rest assured even in the most conservative, corporate office these pieces will get the stamp of approval. And the best bit? You can easily transition them to the weekend to get double the wear out of them. And if you’re all about cost per wear like I am, this will help justify a new purchase!
Double breasted blazer
Thanks to Balmain’s popularity this double breasted military style blazer has become quite the wardrobe staple. Update your regular blazer with this style for instant on trend cred. Wear it with a skirt, over a dress or with cigarette pants to work and when it comes to the weekend you can easily pop on a pair of jeans, a tee and ballet flats and you’re set.
Gucci’s loafer-style pumps were everywhere at Fashion Week and they’re the kind of style that can just as easily work in any office. If you’re growing tired of your usual black pumps this is a great style to sub in its place. When you’re heading out for Saturday night drinks you can team them with cropped straight leg jeans, a cami and blazer and you’ve got a killer evening look.
The sleeveless blazer is one of those pieces that once you introduce it into your wardrobe you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Team it with a white shirt or cami and trousers or a skirt for the office and you’ll look polished yet on trend. You can easily wear it to Sunday afternoon brunch by using it as a topper over a dress or tailored shorts and a tee.
Wide leg pants
The key to these pants is to ensure that they’re hemmed so they fit you perfectly – you don’t want to be dragging your pants around as the edges will eventually get damaged and look tatty. Keep your top quite streamlined to complement the voluminous silhouette of the pants. A button down shirt that’s tucked is a smart looking combination with these pants. When it comes to the weekend team it with a striped tee for a relaxed French-inspired look.
Top handle bag
Update your regular tote bag for a chic top handled number. One in black will ensure you get plenty of use out of it but if you’re after something a little different navy and burgundy could work as well. Whilst the bag might look a bit too dressy for ducking up to the supermarket it could still get a night time outing by being paired with a dressy evening ensemble.
When you think about how often you spend in work clothes it makes sense to make sure your office wardrobe makes you look and feel great. However how often do you wake up in the morning, stare into your wardrobe and just think “I have absolutely nothing to wear”? Far too frequently, right? I think the key to a functional office wardrobe is having quality staples such as jackets and skirts, having the right basics to work back with them and having fun with accessories. As long as you’ve got the basics sorted, getting dressed will be simple. So, here’s where to start….
1. Invest in key pieces
It pays to buy the best quality staples you can as you’ll be wearing them all the time. This means investing in things like a blazer, a nice black pant, a pencil skirt and structured dresses (an LBD is especially great for going from the office to after work drinks). Get these pieces in quality fabrics such as wool as it will last longer. Also steer clear of polyester as it has a tendency to go shiny.
2. Have a rotation of tops you love
You don’t have to spend a fortune on tops but make sure they’re still well made. I love having round neck tops in various colours as I can pair them with either pants or a skirt. Also if the budget allows, silk blouses are always an instant way to make a pair of pants or a skirt look instantly pulled together. You can have fun and get tops in great prints such as stripes and polka dots but make sure you’ve also got neutral colours such as white, cream, black and navy.
3. Get quality work shoes
You can’t go wrong with a classic pointed black pump in suede or leather. Also, have a pair of shoes in a neutral colour. These two colours and styles should be able to be worked back with virtually everything. You can afford to go a little bolder with shoes sometimes by incorporating a bold colour or print but make sure the rest of your outfit is quite subdued.
4. Buy a great work bag
I throw everything into my bag so it needs to be big enough to carry all my belongings plus fit an iPad or a small laptop. I think a great quality leather bag is key in a work wardrobe as you’re carrying it everyday. Assess your wardrobe and see what colour will work best with what you own. I don’t think you can go wrong with neutral colours such as black, grey or tan. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but I love having two handles on my handbag – smaller handles so I can carry it on my arm and a longer strap so I can carry it on my shoulder as it’s more versatile. If you’re going out you can always just pop a clutch into your bag to wear later.
5. Have great accessories
A gorgeous statement necklace is a great way to finish off an outfit. The same with belts in various prints or colours. Have a few key accessories that can be worked back with most of your work wardrobe and have them on rotation.
What other style masterclasses would you like to see in future?