I must admit, I don't know the last time I worked in a setting where office wear was required or appropriate. My last job in the traditional sense was at Girl Scouts, where jeans were the norm around the office, and I worked in the schools where I wore what I pleased. However, I always remember the lessons my mom and teachers taught me about dressing professionally when I do personal shopping for a client or help a friend looking to build a work wardrobe.
I'm sure we all know that every work wardrobe needs a suit. Suits are great because you can break the pieces up and wear them separately. However, I’m not much of a suit kind of gal. I'm a true believer in basic separates that can make a work wardrobe fabulous. Here are my favorite basic pieces and how to make them work in your wardrobe.
While I know there are many offices that require the traditional cotton/poplin-style button-down, the button-down can be a great piece to incorporate some personality and style in your work outfits. This mint/teal blouse from American Apparel and leopard vintage beauty found on Etsy are not your typical basic button-down blouse. They can easily be worn in non-work situations, but a cami/tank of some sort under these chiffon blouses are definitely necessary for the office. Blouses are a great way to add color and print in your workwear!!Sleeveless Top
I live and grew up in Texas, where triple-digit temperatures are the norm in the summer months (and winter isn't exactly freezing, either). It seems that this summer everyone is getting a taste of the triple digits, so sleeveless options are a must. Like blouses, these are great for adding color and print. Sleeveless tops like this one from Forever 21's Love21 line has a bit of a peplum, which is very on trend. This is a great way to wear the peplum trend without really going there. It's also okay to incorporate trendy elements into your work wardrobe, but I wouldn't recommend investing too much money on trendy items.Pencil Skirt
Whether you work in an office or not, a pencil skirt is a great basic for any closet. With so many colorful and printed options out, like this textured pencil skirt by THML Clothing, please don't be afraid to add some boldness to your closet with this work wardrobe staple! If you're willing and able to take on the mixed print trend in your workwear, I'd suggest pairing the leopard top with the textured skirt. For you ladies who aren't comfortable wearing or don't like wearing pencil skirts, my suggestions of color and print work for a-line and full skirts as well.Trouser/Pant
A good pant is a must for your work wardrobe (I've said that about every clothing style so far, no? LOL). They are another one of those pieces that can go from the office to maybe dinner with your girlfriends or another event. We've seen the wide leg and semi boot-cut style trousers for years, so I'm loving slim trousers, like this cropped pair from J.Crew, for adding a bit of freshness to this workwear basic. Pants are great for mixing and matching pieces in your wardrobe, and if your office has a bit of freedom, I'd say try a printed pair, too!Blazers
It took me a while to jump on the blazer bandwagon, mostly because it can be hard finding them long enough for my arms, but blazers are so necessary! They add polish to any look, whether it's a pair of jeans on Casual Friday or toning down those printed pants a bit that I mentioned above. Blazers come in so many shapes and styles these days, but I think it's important to pick blazers with some kind of special detail, like colored lining, or great seaming and tiered ruffles, like this black blazer byElle from Kohl's, or the ivory color, cropped back fit, of this collarless blazer from Topshop. Black blazers "go" with any and everything, but an ivory or colored blazer adds an air of modernity to a timeless workwear (and non-workwear) piece.Pumps
A closed-toe pump is classically timeless, and can be worn season after season. I was taught that I should always have a classic black pump when working in an office, but I've found that a traditional black pump is not always necessary. With all of the options out there today, you can play on this idea of a classic black pump with this burgundy heeled black pump from Pour La Victoire. If you need a lower heel (and even if you don't), details like spikes can give your workwear just the right amount of edge, as seen in these slingbacks from Zara.
There is also a lot of talk about having a nude shoe, from red carpets to the office, so you can’t go wrong with a classic nude pump like these by Fitzwell. However, if you can be a bit more daring (or don’t have to stand on your feet all day) a little punch of red, as seen in these nude Zara platform pumps is very unexpected and fun!
At the end of the day we all want to be personally stylish, and this goal shouldn't exist only for your non-work wardrobe. The key is finding great basics that can do double duty, in and out of the office, that are fun, yet timeless, and match your personality. It's okay to take some trends - like bold color, mixed prints, and peplums -- into the office, and don't be afraid to make a statement.