If deciding what to wear to work is making you late on a daily basis then it’s time for an office wear overhaul. Sure, every workplace is different and while it isn’t necessarily the place for a fashion parade the days of wearing ill-fitting stuffy suits are well and truly over.
Creating the ultimate 9-to-5 wardrobe requires a combination of smartness, comfort, style and personal flair but not necessarily in that order. It’s about finding what works for you. Give your office repertoire a much needed boost with our round-up of the perfect mix of work styling essentials; from shirts to shoes and bags to trousers, these investment buys are seriously hard-working and all you need to look polished at the office.
1. Whistles Multi Stripe Rib Knit: £95, Whistles
A lightweight knit is an office wardrobe essential but we say don’t go for the usual dull hues. After all, there’s no rule against injecting a little colour into the workplace. Whistles is one of those brands that seems to have every corner of a woman’s wardrobe sussed and this chic ribbed jumper is a prime example. Made from 100% wool, it’s unbelievably soft and surprisingly breathable making it a great trans-seasonal item. The colourful stripes of two-tone pink, forest green, navy and caramel make for an interesting combination that can be paired with most things. We like the idea of wearing this tucked into a midi skirt or tailored trousers, or denim at the weekend.
2. Next Pyjama Shirt: £36, Next
The pyjama trend has sky rocketed this year and it’s not going away anytime soon, so why not invest in a piece that promises to see you through the changing seasons? Wearing a shirt to work doesn’t have to mean stuffy, plain fabric and this option from Next proves that. Soft to the touch and cut slightly boxy, this is an absolute dream to wear and while the oriental print might seem a little out-there, the soft blue/grey colouring and delicate florals keeps things tempered. The signature pyjama-style black piping means this looks great paired with a pair of black culottes or, if your workplace allows, some high-waisted jeans and a belt.
3. Cos Pleated Wrap Skirt: £89, Cos
A black skirt is fundamental to any well-dressed wardrobe but just because it’s a staple piece, it doesn’t mean it should be boring. Opt for something that has understated flair like this pleated wrap skirt from Cos, a brand known to put a modern, minimalist twist on classics. The crisp, wide pleats have a school-skirt vibe, then the wrap-over style elevates it into a fashion-forward piece. The D-ring fabric belt sits comfortably at the smallest part of your waist, while two inside buttons give you flexibility on fit. It also finishes below the knee for a little workplace modesty. This skirt looks great with everything from brogues to heels. We think you could also take it through to the weekend with a pair of chunky black boots.
4. Grenson Clara loafers: £220, Selfridges
A pair of heels might look polished but they’re not always work appropriate or the most comfortable of footwear options. Instead, opt for a shoe that will elevate your look, without having to teeter on stiletto heels all day, with these retro tasselled loafers from British brand Grenson. Crafted from calf leather with a lightweight wedge sole they are a dream to wear; they provide great support to your foot, a little extra height and give outfits a modern boost. Both comfy and versatile, these round toe loafers can be worn with almost anything and are suitable for all day wear. They’re also available in a range of styles from high shine black or burgundy to charcoal grey suede.
5. H&M Oversized Cotton Shirt: £29.99, H&M
For a modern take on classic shirting, stick with white but don’t be afraid to play with proportions. This oversized shirt is cut with a boxy, comfortably loose silhouette for ultimate borrowed-from-the-boys style. It’s made from an airy cotton weave with dropped shoulders and wide sleeves, making for a super-comfy wear while retaining an air of tidiness. If the idea of going all-out oversized is a little daunting, try tucking it into a pair of tailored trousers, otherwise we like it styled with a half-tuck and a pair of wide-leg bottoms.
6. Reiss Harmony Relaxed Fit Coat: £285, Reiss
If it is a coat you’re after, there’s nothing we don’t love about this high-end high street option from Reiss. Outerwear is definitely something worth investing in and for that reason it’s often best to choose a colour that can be paired with most things, in this case it’s ‘night navy’; a chic alternative to black. The 100 per cent wool outer is super-soft and we like its matching silky lining and effortless, relaxed silhouette. There are peak lapels, two oversized patch pockets and a concealed button front, its design offers a failsafe combination of comfort and understated style. Also available in oatmeal.
7. Topshop Crop Wide Leg Trouser: £42, Topshop
The black trouser is the ultimate staple piece in any work wardrobe but this doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice style points. Instead, opt for an on-trend cropped length that’s cut with a wide leg for a look that combines smartness with off-duty cool. We love this wide-leg pair from Topshop that sit high on the waist and finish at the most flattering part of your ankle for an elongated silhouette. They’re also designed with a single crisp pressed crease that lengthens the legs. With wide legs it’s important to keep the look sleek, so pair these with a tucked in sheer blouse that will show off the elegant satin waist band detail. Team with flat mules or carry them through to the weekend with white tennis shoes.
8. Mango Buckle Bag: £35.99, Mango
Finding a bag that will carry all of your workday essentials without skimping on style is no mean feat but luckily Mango has the perfect solution. This brown croc-effect bag is just the right size to stow your office must-haves without getting in the way and, it’s super chic. The clean-lined design is a timeless silhouette that bridges the gap between classic and modern, making it ideal for the office, while the decorative gold-tone buckle adds a touch of flair. Inside, you’ll find a contrasting burgundy lining and a small internal pocket for your mobile phone. It also comes with two different size straps; carry it with the shorter length or go hands free with a cross-body on your busy commute. Also available in black.
9. River Island Pink Suede Slingback Court: £55, River Island
While traditional court shoes can be uncomfortable, fashion’s latest obsession with the block heel has made adding a little height to your look all the easier. If you’re the kind of person that prefers to keep things simple up top then add a little pizazz with a colourful pair of shoes. In the shade of the season, these delicate rose pink sling backs from River Island are ideal for round-the-clock wear, making a comfortable choice for day-to-night dressing. Crafted from suede with a feminine round toe and a 6cm heel, they’re surprisingly comfy to wear and the sling back provides extra support for minimal slippage. These heels are a great way to add a playful twist to simple outfits while still looking polished, looking just as good paired with formal skirts as they do jeans.
10. Asos Jumpsuit with Wrap and Self Tie: £50, Asos
Let’s face it, some days the lure of ten more minutes in bed can often get the better of us leaving little time to pull together an outfit, but that’s where the jumpsuit comes in. It’s an instant work wear winner. This option from Asos comes in a gorgeous emerald green that offers a chic alternative to black, while remaining office friendly. Designed with a wrap front and straight-cut silhouette, it’s extremely flattering to the figure. We also love the fact that it cinches at the centre with a tie to accentuate the waistline. Team yours with simple heeled courts.
If you’re looking for a piece that will inject your work wardrobe with some serious style points then Whistle’s stripy jumper is a worthy investment. It’s an option that will instantly transform your look into a fashion-forward ensemble. For items that promise both style and longevity though, Grenson’s Clara shoes and Cos’ pleated skirt will see you through the changing seasons in style. We also love Reiss’ fuss-free coat for the colder months.
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