It has been some years since I’ve worked in a professional office setting, and when I did, it was within the halls of fashion magazines (not exactly a place known for severe office dress codes). I’ve always been fascinated by the chic business ladies I see on New York City streets rocking suits, stylish shift dresses, and a killer pair of pointed toe pumps. These women just seem so effortlessly put together, take-charge, and quite frankly, totally badass. Blame it on my love for the movie Working Girl or the fact that I have never really worked in an environment with a suit-only policy, but there is just something so glamorous to me about office attire.
So, when I first thought of rounding up the best pieces to elevate your work wardrobe, I reached out to some of my professional pals and asked them what their ridged corporate ensembles really entail, and what are some of the challenges they face getting ready every morning. Whether you face a daily grind at an office or just want to add a little professional style to your look, see below the must-have items to curate a closet of ideal work essentials.
There is perhaps no more iconic business staple in any professional’s wardrobe than an amazing suit. Man or woman, everyone just carries themselves differently when wearing this look. My fashion background lends itself to rocking a bright bold or kitschy print iteration, these are not always law office-friendly. But if you want to step up your suit style and still be boardroom appropriate, we suggest trying a check or pinstripe. It still gives a little extra flair among the sea of navy and black, but doesn’t stand out so much that it no longer seems professional.
Point Toe Pumps
These footwear gems have become the iconic symbol for chic women everywhere. Equally as perfect with a suit as with a party dress, this style chameleon is the ideal investment for anyone’s wardrobe. But if you want to spice up your look, we suggest going for one with standout detailing, like extra straps or a statement cap toe. For those busy ladies always on the run, try a version with either a block or kitten heel on those days that a 4-inch stiletto just won’t cut it.
Let me start off by saying: I love an amazing tote bag. One fashion choice that does tend to crossover no matter your career path, this Mary Poppins-style bag will get you through the most hectic of days. Able to carry just about everything you could possibly need and more, these are essential for any working girl’s wardrobe. But, instead of choosing one in a run-of-the-mill square or rectangle body, go for a slightly more original silhouette, like these from Elizabeth and James or Wandler.
If suiting and pants aren’t your thing, channel your inner Mad Men style with a high neck A-line dress. This 60s-style silhouette puts an ultra-feminine feel on the ideal professional look. The key is a high neckline (to keep it office appropriate), mixed up with a rich color choice or a bold pattern. We particularly love this houndstooth number for Oscar de la Renta and maroon frock from Topshop, for the ultimate ladyboss look.
Photographer: Darrel Hunter