5 Office Outfits

5 Office Outfits

Last week, The Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley wrote a pertinent column about modern power dressing. She made a point about the sheath dress being over and I’m afraid she’s right. Obviously, you can still wear a sheath dress. You are a grown-up woman and can wear anything you like. Personally, I will certainly still be wearing sheath dresses, as they happen to work well on me. But it’s true that wearing one (even one as good as this or this) no longer seems as on point as it used to. The Zeitgeist has moved on.

While Jess (I read her column every week, so I feel like we know each other very well) raises an important question, I’m not convinced the dress she wears for the column is the perfect answer – at least not for me. I do agree that a loosening of the silhouette is in order, but have not found one comprehensive solution to the power dressing conundrum, the way the pant suit (in the nineties) and the abovementioned dress (in the noughties) used offer. Maybe there will not be one, in this age of thousands of trends.

In the absence of a single answer, I decided to post five office looks – people seemed to like them on Instagram, so I’ve gathered them all here. These aren’t really examples of power dressing – the search for the perfect Important Meeting Outfit continues -, but they are all real examples of workwear: all worn to the office in the last two weeks. Pictures have been taken before or after work, without any special make-up or styling, so they lack the polish of the professional shoots. To compensate, I have climbed on our dinner table on one occasion, to mix things up.

1. Yellow sweater, blue skirt. This look is, obviously, all about the colour combination. There is a slightly Gucci vibe going on with the sweater-skirt combo, the pattern and the pleats. It’s also worth noting that nothing is fitted (that used to be a no-no for me). Clothes from Zara, bag by Sensi Studio, shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood for Roksanda Ilincic.

Office yellow

2. Updated sheath.
This is my current take on wearing a sheath dress – the shape of the dress is pretty classic, but layering a more voluminous piece underneath makes it feel different and fresher. It doesn’t have to be as Victorian as this, a more traditional turtleneck would also work. Interesting sleeves are a big trend for autumn/winter, though. Dress and blouse by Zara, shoes by Louboutin.

Office sheath

3. All pink. This is the most structured look of them all and in terms of the shape, quite conservative. Putting four pink items together makes it almost provocative, however, and strangely powerful. I’m more and more convinced that wearing pink in a non-romantic way is very empowering. Coat, bag and culottes by Zara, sweater by Alexa for Marks & Spencer, shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood.

Office pink

4. Office disco.
I’m sure many of you would not wear this dress for work – there certainly is an element of Studio 54 about it. But I absolutely love the length and cut of it, so I will continue to wear this to the office. And the midi length and the slightly seventies outline are worth noting even if this particular item is not your jam. The colour is unusual for me, a warm bronzy brown, but pairing it with baby blue makes it work for me. Dress and shoes by Zara, bag by H&M.

Office disco
5. Casual Friday. Oversize is definitely one of the biggest trends of the moment, but it’s a difficult one for the office, unless you work somewhere hip. I feel that the crispness of the gingham makes it more office-friendly. Flats are not going to go anywhere either, and a good pair of loafers is excellent for relaxed office wear. Everything is from Zara, I’m afraid – a lot of my work wardrobe comes from there, with the exception of my beloved sheath dresses…

Office casual

Does a post like this make any sense to you? And what would you wear for a really important day in the office?


Add yours
  1. 1

    More posts like this please! I am always interested in what other people wear to their office jobs.
    If I have a high visibility day when I am going to be really busy, I wear the anti-suit by Kaliyana:


    Really comfortable and looks sharp. Put on some interesting shoes, and I have an outfit which is a bit unique, very polished and amazingly comfortable.

    • 2

      “High visibility day” is a great phrase, I’m adding it to my vocabulary right now! And that anti-suit looks very versatile, I had never heard of it. Love the name?

  2. 3

    I agree, your style posts are always interesting! The pictures on Instagram looked great (and I love the mini-dramas in the background of your city shots) but they’re even better here with your thoughts on each. I still favour something well-fitted for a big work day, but I’ve been veering towards more movement with it – a really wide skirt with a nipped-in waist, for example, and a shrunken jacket or slim top. And wearing a strong colour is a really good way of appearing confident. Also looking forward to experimenting with voluminous sleeves!

    • 4

      Thank you! I’ve also been wearing much wider skirts in stiff fabrics, something quite new for me. I don’t have much of a waist, so I need to think it through. Culottes and cropped trousers have been working surprisingly well, too. And I’m feeling tweed for this autumn!

  3. 5

    I love all of these outfits but I work in s much more conservative environment; A colourful skirt and a simple blouse or some neutral trousers or a plain skirt with a printed blouse. I do get away with some crazy dresses if I “hide” them between s black cardigan and black tights.

    • 6

      Thanks! The Commission is pretty conservative as well (as have been all other places where I’ve worked, like the Ministry of Finance) and most of my colleagues dress very differently. It’s definitely a suit-and-tie environment, but I haven’t had any issues so far.

  4. 7

    One of my favourite posts and as others have said so fun to see what other people wear to work. Having just done an important presentation to many peope this is top of my mind- I wore a glamorous very fitted dress and matching jacket (with bare legs and silver shoes) but agree that the mood is changing. I would totally wear the brown dress to work and midis are increasingly my choice at moment- I like the slightly carefree vibe they can have. Will be interesting to see if a new shape becomes accepted high profile office style.

    • 8

      Thank you, Sophie! The other issue is shoes: I love and will probably always love the classic stiletto shape, but that too looks a bit tired now. I think a luxury loafer (a la Gucci) or flat could be a great more casual option for the office, but I’d still like to have something more high-powered in my arsenal as well. I plan to do a similar post again at some point, it has (surprisingly) turned out to be one of the most popular ever.

  5. 9

    Love this post! And I have to agree with those above – these everyday-looks are so interesting to scroll through, and get inspired by! Even though I don’t work at an office, then one of my “big important day” shirts is from Cos, an A-line shirt with a round collar and a pleated back. I usually wear it with jeans, so it’s pretty basic, but the shoes always make the outfit. Loafers for a more casual day, something colorful for fun or heels for more ~glamour~.

    • 10

      Thank you! And I think COS in general is great for modern, non-flashy office wear. I of course only do flashy, so don’t buy from them that often 🙂 Well, I do, but I generally prefer & Other Stories. Completely agree on shoes, they are probably the easiest way to do something interesting with your look in the office.

  6. 11

    Love, love, love the post. What to wear to work is the problem most of confront 5 days a week, so what could be better than seeing how someone more skillful than I solves it? (I am an engineer and work with colleagues of the same persuasion. Many of our kind do not dress well.) So thanks. This post reminds me of one of the first blogs I read. The author posted a picture of her shoes every day. Imagine explaining that to someone in 1975.

    • 12

      I’m sincerely glad you enjoyed it. I’m not sure how useful my looks are for most people, as I dress quite conspicuoiusly, but I always like reading this type of thing, too. Getting dressed doesn’t seem an accomplishment comparable to engineering, though 🙂

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