How to Dress for Work According to Stylists, In Case You Forgot
We're out of practice.
We’ve all become experts in loungewear over the past year—and putting together a comfy outfit that can transition from couch to bed to at-home desk all day long is an easy assignment. When it comes to dressing for the office, though, that’s where things get a little trickier. Most of us are so out of practice with in-person workwear that trying to style an outfit for the office can feel as intimidating as low-rise jeans. On top of that, the thought of planning office-appropriate outfits to fill an entire workweek can be enough to give us head spins.
So, if you’re stressing out about having to dress for in-person work again, you’re not alone. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. We tapped stylists for expert advice on how to make getting ready for work both stylish and simple. From go-to outfit templates to follow to workwear staples everyone needs in their wardrobe, these seven tips and tricks will make the transition to working in-person way easier.
How to get dressed for work:
1. Plan ahead.
This tip will save you so much morning stress. After a year of being able to pretty much roll out of bed and log on to work, it’s especially important to plan your outfits ahead of time. “Planning is key,” Wishi stylist Adriana Gonzalez-Ramirez says. “Taking the time to prepare your outfits the day before or on the weekend will save you time in the morning.”
2. Take it one piece at a time.
If your fashion impulses are a bit rusty, try to take it easy on yourself. “As we prepare to dust off our workwear and head back into the office, the first thing to remember for those feeling overwhelmed is to ease in by selecting pieces that make you feel confident,” says Stitch Fix stylist, Stephanie Valponi. She suggests starting with something like your favorite pair of jeans and dressing them up with a trend-forward top, like a puff-sleeve blouse. If you start with something that makes you feel confident, you’ll be more comfortable knowing where to go from there.
3. Keep it comfortable.
Valponi says that it’s “important to remember that just because you’re returning to the office, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort.” In fact, according to Stitch Fix data, there’s a consistent rise in the trend of “business comfort” vs. pre-pandemic “business casual” options. This means that the standard of workwear is changing to incorporate comfort as a priority. To follow this trend, Valponi recommends you try to swap your structured blazer out for one with a more relaxed fit or “trade in the leggings you’ve been wearing while working from home for an equally comfortable pair of pull-on trousers with a tapered leg that feels office-appropriate.”
4. Arm yourself with long-lasting staples.
There’s no need to try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to professional clothing. As long as you have a selection of classic, reliable workwear staples in your wardrobe, you can rely on some tried-and-true office fashion looks. For starters, Gonzalez-Ramirez says “everyone needs a crisp white button-up, a classic blazer, and a tote.” These pieces can be worn in so many different ways, paired with other workwear basics for something timeless or styled with bold prints and accessories for a statement look.
$79.50Shop it Madewell
When it comes to finding the perfect blazer, Valponi recommends sizing up or opting for one with an oversized fit, since this will keep you feeling comfortable and looking cool while still nailing the professional look. Go for subtle yet classic prints like plaid or solid colors, depending on your personal style. Then, for easy styling, “style [the blazer] with a monochromatic look underneath, such as all black, and pair it with a trusty pair of loafers,” Valponi says. “Or, for even more comfort, you can rock it with a pair of white sneakers.”
The Oversized Blazer
$185Shop it Everlane
Gonzalez-Ramirez also recommends adding a simple shift dress to your workwear wardrobe because of how “universally flattering” and easy to style they are. Just add a pair of heels and some jewelry to be presentation-ready.
The Maaza Dress
$225Shop it M.M. LaFleur
For Valponi, wide-leg trousers are also a workwear must-have as they’re comfortable and versatile. “Pair them with a sleek top for a balanced look and finish the ensemble with your favorite mules,” she recommends. “You can also rock the wide-leg silhouette in a jean style with a polished blouse for an effortlessly casual Friday look.”
The Wide-Leg Crop Pant
$68Shop it Everlane
5. Follow foolproof outfit templates.
Just as having a few workwear staples will make your life easier, so will having some go-to outfit templates on hand. See below for two stylist-recommended outfit templates that you can keep coming back to over and over.
The white button-up template:
There are so many ways to style a crisp white button-up shirt. For starters, add a pair of equally classic black trousers or dark denim, Gonzalez-Ramirez says. Then, add blazers to the look in varying colors or patterns—”classic camels and browns are perfect for fall,” she adds. Finish the look with a pair of heels or boots, depending on the day of the week and the weather.
The midi dress template:
The midi dress has become a workwear classic that’s easy to style from day to night. For the office, experiment with different layers on top or underneath a simple midi slip dress. You can layer on top with a blazer, open button-up shirt, or a chunky sweater and when you need a bit more warmth, you can layer a turtleneck underneath. Then, add shoes based on how dressed up or down you want the overall look to be. “[A midi dress] can be dressed up with heeled ankle boots for the fall, or try a crisp white sneaker for a more relaxed yet stylish vibe,” Valponi says.
6. Don’t forget to iron your clothing.
Our wardrobes may have gotten pretty lax over the past year, but don’t forget one essential element of every work-appropriate outfit: The iron. “I love to see clothing that is ironed, it simply elevates any piece and makes you look put together,” Gonzalez-Ramirez says. If irons intimidate you, try steaming your clothes.
7. Add personal touches.
Once you have your workwear staples and outfit templates sorted out, it’s time to get creative and start working on back-to-office outfits that best represent you. “Styling is all about details so adding a print or vibrant color via a scarf or shoe is such a fun way to add personality to your style,” Gonzalez-Ramirez says.
With the above tips, you’ll be a pro at dressing for the office in no time.