A MIDI DRESS
Universally beloved thanks to its easy elegance and flattering cut (a high waist and flowing skirt appear to elongate the legs), the midi dress has become a cornerstone of women’s closets – and a fail-safe workwear option. Minimalists will, of course, be drawn to block colors and simple cuts, but for those who prefer a more feminine look, there are also myriad mood-enhancing printed options. Proenza Schouler’s belted style subtly cinches the waist, gently sculpting the body, while the scarf detail on Chloé’s ditzy-print design will bring an air of refinement to your nine-to-five look.
A CLASSIC SHIRT
A stalwart of any workwear wardrobe, a classic shirt is a piece that you’ll reach for time and time again. The enduring allure of this garment lies in its versatility, which is why it’s best to stick to quintessential colors and fabrics. White cottons and linens boast year-round appeal and can be styled with everything from suiting to midi skirts and – in the case of casual Fridays – even blue jeans. If you’re under the impression that this constant wear will make the quality of your shirt suffer, let England-based designer Emma Willis change your mind: her pieces are made to last, becoming softer and more comfortable over time.
Finding the perfect shoes for work can be a delicate balance; of course, you want them to be stylish and versatile, but given how much running around a typical working day can entail, comfort should also be a priority. When you take all that into account, no style satisfies quite so many criteria as the ballet pump. Our top tip? Opt for expert shoe designers who have spent years honing their craft; Christian Louboutin’s butter-soft leather pumps are truly timeless, while Jimmy Choo’s leopard-print slingbacks are a sure-fire way to add personality to your corporate closet.
During lockdown, high/low dressing became de rigueur, as women around the world made use of the fact that adding a liberal helping of jewels to your look can elevate even the most casual of outfits. Statement earrings became a Zoom essential, while everything from tennis bracelets and modern diamonds became the perfect accompaniment to blue jeans and cashmere tracksuits. However, the ability of jewelry to add instant polish isn’t something we should forget now that restrictions are loosening. A pair of hoop earrings or a classic timepiece are chic and effortless ways to put an elegant slant on standard office attire, too.
While it might not sound like the most obvious addition to your workwear closet, a tailored jumpsuit is a game-changing piece – not least because its throw-on-and-go qualities will allow you to hit snooze every morning. Whether you’re drawn to Brunello Cucinelli’s utilitarian styles or Gucci’s elevated designs, simply finish with a grab bag and square-toed shoes for a look that is both directional and office-appropriate. The jumpsuit’s versatility also makes it the desk-to-dinner piece par excellence; so, when nights out are back on the agenda, simply add statement earrings and you’ll be ready for wherever the evening takes you.
A STATEMENT SUIT
A crucial component of any workwear closet, a perfectly cut suit is the power piece to have on hand for everything from board meetings to sales pitches and job interviews. You’d be forgiven for thinking that classic colors and shapes are the safest choice, but there’s nothing wrong with standing out in a sea of black and gray – particularly after a long absence from the office. This season, female-led labels including Victoria Beckham, Tibi and Anna Quan have debuted some truly covetable suiting that combines flawless fit with eye-popping colors and sculptural shapes – perfect for making an impression on your first day back.
A TOTE BAG
As we prepare for the daily commute to become a reality once again, choosing the right return-to-work bag has become increasingly important. Ultimately, what you want is a piece that combines exquisite design with a deceptive amount of room – enough to carry the daily essentials, and then some. All of which makes a tote bag the ideal candidate. Chic yet decidedly practical, this is one piece you’ll have on constant rotation. Keep it classic by opting for brown and black styles by heritage houses such as Chloé and Givenchy, or add a pop of color in the form of Bottega Veneta’s sought-after ‘Arco’ style.
A MIDI SKIRT
A midi skirt might strike you as more of a closet staple than a statement piece, but it can be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to styling a distinctive workwear look. Add a playful edge to classic shirting or plain tees by pairing them with printed skirts. Isabel Marant’s asymmetric design is suitably riotous and can be styled up with a matching blouse for maximum impact. If your personal style is more on the understated side, give your nine-to-five look an edge by pairing Saint Laurent’s sumptuous leather skirt with a second-skin knit.