There’s no doubt that having a high-powered corporate career is demanding, so the last thing you want to worry about is what to wear every morning, or even where to purchase the right attire. No matter what industry you work in, every job requires a certain level of aesthetic professionalism, something which retailers seldom get right.
Corporate wear need not be very expensive. If you purchase a few quality staple items, you can dress up almost any outfit. Read on to find out which items we recommend as must-haves to complete your perfect office look.
The shift dress (or Little Black Dress)
Every woman knows about the LBD. It’s a staple item for any occasion. The same LBD you wear to a cocktail party should be one you can wear to a boardroom meeting – it should be timeless and classic. That being said, if your cocktail party LBD has more ruffles than an 18th-century ball gown and is short enough to make a nun blush, it’s recommended to invest in a more office-appropriate variety, like this one.
A functional, yet chic handbag
An elegant and tasteful handbag can be the cherry on top of any great work outfit. The same sparkly cross-body bag with gold chain detail that you use to carry your wallet and phone to the club may not be the best option to complete your office look. You want something that will last, so think leather, not ‘pleather’, and keep the detailing to a minimum, unless it’s understated and tasteful. Generally a bigger handbag, so a tote bag would be better as you can fit your laptop in it as well.
The classic white blouse
A white blouse is a vital part of any corporate wardrobe. It can be paired with skirts or trousers and dressed up with a blazer. White blouses come in many different forms and styles but it is best to have at least one that doesn’t have too much detail so that you can wear it over and over again in various combinations, making people believe your wardrobe is more extensive than it actually is.
There’s no doubt about it, there’s nothing sexier than sky-high heels that really make a statement. But, looking amazing walking around in a pair of nine-inch heels is very different from the blisters you’ll be suffering from later or the foot rubs you’ll require from aching soles.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to opt for kitty heels or flats. A mid-height block heel can still look sexy, without the drawback of feeling like you’re walking around on stilts.
The pencil skirt
Nothing quite says sophistication like a classic dark-coloured pencil skirt, or ruby red if you want to make a statement, combined with a crisp white blouse. The pencil skirt is also great because it can be dressed up or down so it can be converted from day to night. No more lugging a big bag to work to hide under your desk so that you have an appropriate outfit for a date or after-work drinks. A pencil skirt combined with a well-tailored shirt can comfortably take you from desk to drinks.
A timeless timepiece
In the digital age we live in, a lot of us have opted not to wear a watch because we can check the time on one of our many digital devices, or skip the analogue version and get a smartwatch instead.
But an elegant and tasteful watch just makes an impression and a beautiful piece of jewellery just gives your outfit a more polished appearance.
The ultimate blazer
A fitted blazer can dress up any ensemble and can turn a casual outfit into a smart-casual one. Although there are many different blazer styles, as with all staple items, it’s best to stick to the classic options that won’t date. Once you have built up a good base of work wardrobe staples, you can start mixing it up a bit with jazzier items with prints and bold colours.
Staple items are generally more expensive items as well because you want them to be good quality so they last, while you can spend less money on other, more trendy items and mix and match. A structured, single-breasted black or navy jacket is the perfect addition to any workplace outfit.
A great pair of jeans
Most workplaces won’t expect you to be formally dressed every day of the week. A lot of offices will have Casual Fridays or will let their employees dress more casually on days when there aren’t any client meetings scheduled.
Take this opportunity to wear your best denim. A darker denim pairs well with white or bold colours. It can also be dressed up with some of your other staple items like the ultimate blazer, a white crisp shirt, and some stylish heels.
A flattering coat
Cold and rainy days don’t mean you have to wear your old, worn parka over your beautifully curated outfit. A beautifully fitted trench coat in a neutral colour, worn over a fitted pantsuit or pencil skirt outfit gives that air of sophistication, while still being practical.
In fact, the first trench coat was designed with practicality in mind. It was invented by Thomas Burberry in 1879, as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats of British and French soldiers in World War I. The modern-day version is obviously more fashion-forward but it’s retained its functionality.
Comfortable work trousers
You want this pair of pants to be the equivalent of your favourite pair of comfy jeans, except obviously the work-appropriate version.
You’ll probably spend most of your working life in a pair of pants, and match it up with different blouses so you want them to be practical, smart, but most of all, comfortable.
However, as much as we all love a pair of trusty leggings, they are not appropriate for a corporate environment. You don’t want to show up to a meeting wearing a faded, stretched pair of leggings, looking like you just rolled out of bed.