Working in an office with a business-casual dress code has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it takes a lot of the guesswork out when you’re only able to wear certain things.
But on the negative side, it doesn’t allow for a ton of creativity. That is, unless you stack your wardrobe with timeless essentials that are easy to mix and match—and always look chic.
A Pencil Skirt You Can Actually Breathe In
The pencil skirt is a total workplace classic, but it’s surprisingly hard to find the perfect one. That’s why it’s beneficial to take this baby to the tailor before wearing it to work. For a little extra money, your skirt will become way more wearable thanks to a little professional TLC. Ask your tailor to fit it snugly around your midsection and a touch looser around your butt and thighs (like the trousers above).
A Sharp Blazer That Improves Your Posture
A blazer is one of those pieces that makes you stand a little taller and feel a little more confident. It’s professional without being stuffy, and it looks great with pretty much everything in your closet.
A White Button-Down for All Occasions
No frills, no nonsense, no problem. That’s pretty much how we feel about our go-to white button-down, which can be paired with a pencil skirt, trousers or casual-Friday jeans (more on those in a bit). Opt for a no-wrinkle version to keep it from looking sloppy come 4:30 p.m.
Black Pumps That Don’t Kill Your Feet
If you have to wear heels to work every day, they’d better be as walkable as possible. That might mean trying on a bunch of pairs before settling on the perfect ones, but in the long run it’s totally worth it. Look for styles with a mid-height heel and a toe that is pointed (to make your legs look longer) but not too pointy (so you won’t be hobbling home in the evening).
A Trench Coat You’ll Wear Forever
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: A trench coat should absolutely have a place in your closet, whether you work in an office or not. Elegant and timeless, it looks just as great over a shift dress as it does with jeans and sneakers.
Dark-Wash Jeans You Can Wear on Casual Fridays
Casual Fridays are a glorious opportunity to relax a little wardrobe-wise, but they’re not an excuse to wear your most distressed boyfriend jeans and a sweatshirt. Look for a pair of dark-wash jeans in a trouser or wide-leg silhouette. They’re clearly more relaxed than a pencil skirt, but not so casual that they look sloppy.
A Cashmere Turtleneck to Layer When It’s Cold
Think of this as the fall/winter version of a silk shell. You can layer it under a blazer, vest or jacket or, unlike a shell top (since there are sleeves), wear it alone with a skirt or pants. The cashmere part is just a suggestion (any turtleneck will do), but we’re all about ramping up the coziness while still being work appropriate.
A STURDY BUT STREAMLINED TOTE TO HOLD ALL YOUR STUFF
Your wallet, keys, phone, Kindle, receipts, notepad and countless other odds and ends…. It all has to fit into a bag that doesn’t look like it’s bursting at the seams. A sturdy tote with a well-defined shape will hold your entire life without making you look like a bag lady.