In honor of my new job, I’ve come up with list of items that I reach for, without fail, every time I want a chic, office-friendly look. These are staples that I think every woman should have if she works in an environment that requires a more polished look.
Personally, I think this is the most important item, especially if you’re interviewing and unsure of the office’s dress policy. A classic black pant will always be appropriate and can be styled multiple ways. I like a skinny, slightly cropped style, a la Audrey Hepburn. This is a great full-length, slim option and this is a universally flattering straight-leg option. Because there are so many great options at stores like the Gap, I generally buy these at a mid-range price. However, because they’re such a staple, if you find a more expensive pair it’s worth the investment.
Your blouse is where you can have a little fun. Pick a pretty print, a bright color or interesting detail to personalize. Layer them under sweaters in the winter, dresses for a little fun or wear alone with a statement necklace. Here’s a great, cheap, classic pinstripe. A crisp, well-tailored, modestly priced classic. A vintage inspired, bow front blouse. A pretty, semi-sheer option. I generally try and find good deals on well-made blouses. You don’t want them to be super cheap and uncomfortable, but since you’ll need a few don’t spend all your money on one.
Ahh, the LBD. What they say is true, you need one. It’s the easiest way to go from office to evening, just layer a cardigan over it and pack some fancy shoes for the night. Dressed up and dressed down, I promise, you’ll reach for it often. The one I own is a sheath dress like this. Here’s another cute option that also comes in some fun colors. Invest in a perfectly-tailored black dress and then find a similar-cut version in a fun color, at a good price.
Every office I’ve ever worked in is always way too cold, so don’t count this out just because you live in a warm climate. A classic cable knit can work for the office, as well as on the weekends and is great for layering in the winter. This is a blogger favorite, neutral J. Crew option. Here’s a warm, cheaper option. A soft, classic (on sale!) version. A v-neck version in some great colors. Invest in a great quality sweater if you live in a colder climate. If you don’t, just look for one that fits well on its own as well as with a shirt layered underneath. Regardless of the price, never buy a sweater you find itchy… you’ll never wear it.
5. Pencil Skirt
We can thank Mad Men for the rise in popularity of the pencil skirt. However, they’re a great addition to any office wardrobe and so feminine. They’re more versatile than you’d think too! I’ve seen them paired with chambray tops and t-shirts for a dressed-down look that’s anything but stuffy. Here’s a classic wool option. A budget-friendly option. An ultra adorable, flared version. Another classic, with color options. Invest in this, cheap pencil skirts look… well, cheap.
6. Skinny Belt
A skinny belt is an essential element to almost any office outfit. It pulls the whole look together and gives it shape. This is also another item that you can have fun with. There are many colors and prints out there, so it’s easy to personalize. Here’s one for a fun pop of color. An adorable bow-detail belt. A bow skinny belt in black. Surprisingly versatile leopard print. On-trend neon version. Plus-size leopard print. You don’t have to spend too much on a skinny belt, just make sure the it’s not so cheap that it will fall apart after a couple wears.
7. Nude Pumps
A Kate Middleton staple and, really, need I say more? Generally you don’t want to wear flashy shoes at work, especially heels. Nude pumps lengthen your lengths and are the peanut butter to the pencil skirt’s jelly. Here’s a suede version. A pointed toe version. Classic patent leather version. Be willing to invest for comfort and quality. These are classics and will never go out of style.
8. The Blazer
Blazers are everywhere right now and come in a wide variety of colors. However, depending on your office, stick to the classics at work. If you want a fun detail opt for elbow pads over wild colors, they’re more likely to stand the test of time. Here’s a classic, preppy option. A well-tailored, modestly priced black blazer. Another classic with elbow pads. Invest in your classic, well-tailored blazer. Spend less on fun colors. Here’s a fun, blush colored one that is still office appropriate.
9. Classic Bag
Bags are a rather personal thing for women and every job requires you to bring different things to the office. Some will need space for a laptop, some will need space for their shoes (if they walk to work). Keep things subtle and gravitate toward classic colors and quality. The less trendy, the more worth the investment. This tote could probably carry your laptop. A classic satchel. A carry-all with a pop of fun color.
10. Ballet Flats
Sadly, in most offices, it’s not appropriate to sport your most ostentatious heels. Keep office pumps simple and have more fun with ballet flats! Like your belt, this is a chance to add a little bit of fun to your outfit. Invest in classic black flats. Here’s a classic black pair, with a subtle crocodile pattern. A good black pair, with the bow in the back. Also find a pair of comfy, fun flats. Here’s a cheap, cap-toe flat. Gorgeous, neon-accented flats. Fun, metallic detail flats.