The Life

Six Stylish Pieces to Take You Beyond Business Casual

Because our quarantine uniform of tie-dye sweatsuits, joggers, and high-school t-shirts probably won’t cut it once our coworkers can see us from the waist down again.

Although the memories of business casual workwear are fading, there will eventually come a day when those of us with office jobs will return to the office. (Who would have thought that going back to the office would be the light at the end of the tunnel this year?) Our quarantine uniform of tie-dye sweatsuits, joggers, and high-school t-shirts probably won’t cut it once our coworkers can see us from the waist down again.

When it comes to the office (at least from my own observations), it seems like most dress codes fall somewhere in the middle of suit-and-heels and Silicon-Valley-sweatshirt-and-baseball-cap. No ripped jeans allowed, but no pantyhose required. “Appropriate” is often the only guideline.

So what do you wear when you’re trying to dress for the job you want, but you don’t want to look out of place for the job you have? While some argue that the typical office dress code might relax after the pandemic, the hunt for cute, versatile workwear will likely still be on. 

Without breaking the bank, here are a few ideas for polished-yet-casual pieces that can bring a little of your personal style back into the office. Feel free to do a little online shopping while you wait for your next Slack notification to roll in.

black jeans

If you’re not wearing slacks, but blue jeans won’t cut it, black jeans are the best pair of pants for the office. You can dress them all the way up with a blazer and heels or all the way down with a sweater and sneakers. While you can find black jeans at any store, Old Navy and Everlane have great denim selections without being as pricey as somewhere like Madewell.

old navy skinny / everlane straight / old navy straight / everlane flare

pointed-toe flats

Sam Edelman and Steve Madden both make great, mid-price-range flats for the office. Whether you like a loafer, a mule, or a cut-out style, a pointed toe adds a little bit of a grown-up flair where a ballet flat might not.

steve madden flat / sam edelman slide / sam edelman cut-out

chunky gold jewelry

Simple, bold jewelry is in right now, and it works perfectly for the office. A chunky gold chain makes a great statement while still looking polished and subtle for work. Plus, a dome ring or a pair of thick gold earrings look expensive, even when they’re not (but you don’t have to tell anyone that).

pavoi earrings / urban outfitters necklace / mejuri ring

“not-a-blazer”

If you aren’t wearing a suit every day, adding an extra layer on top can give a similar effect to a traditional blazer. Without going too casual (denim) or too edgy (studded leather), there are plenty of options for a little business-casual structure up top.

bb dakota suede / lulu’s moto / j.crew factory sweater-blazer

belts

A belt says “good morning, I took the time and care to add an extra piece to my outfit today, and I definitely did not run out the door with my coffee in one hand, a folder in the other, and a bagel about to fall out of my mouth.” Even if you’re not flashing dollar signs with the Gucci double-G, a belt can take an outfit to an extra-polished level.

target double-buckle / madewell leather

midi wrap dresses

“Midi wrap dress” is a broad category, and that’s exactly the point. A wrap style is flattering and classic, and a mid-length gives you the peace of mind that it’s office-appropriate. This style of dress will give you plenty of freedom – choose whatever bright color, bold pattern, or ruffled hem really speaks to you.

h&m dotted / asos floral / gap factory navy

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