What To Wear For The Office

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

When I first started an office job, I was young, naive, and incredibly broke. I had spent years working as a manager at a restaurant, which required me to wear clothes that could take the stench of fryers and grills. My knowledge of sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day came from what I saw in the movies. It was inevitable that I would be the new girl who had absolutely nothing to wear and no idea where to even start in the fashion department. Frankly, I barely had enough clothes to put together an outfit for the interview process.

Somehow I got the job and, after learning the proper dress code, went to the store in a desperate search for something to wear. Realizing none of my current wardrobes would suffice, I spent my first few paychecks on nothing but clothes. While the job might not have stuck, the office attire stayed with me after learning the ins and outs of fashionable office wear.

Not only can you dress appropriately for the office, but you can do so on a budget. I had enough money barely in the bank to get a pair of pants and a blouse. However, if done correctly, you don't need many pieces to create an office wardrobe. Therefore, I decided to share a few tips and tricks I learned while skimming the aisles of my local stores. A great outfit can give you the confidence to rock the day (or at least nail your interview).

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Pants and Skirts
Working at a restaurant beforehand created a closet with grease-stained denim and sweats for my days off. Unfortunately, this pieces won't suffice for the typical desk job. If you are on a budget, I would recommend starting with a decent pair of trousers. While skirts are beautiful, you can't necessarily wear the same one every single day. However, if you pick a neutral colored pant, you can get away with wearing it multiple times without anyone suspecting a thing.

When it comes to pants, I would recommend getting a decent pair of trousers — something that looks clean (as in something you probably have to iron eventually). You can go for pants that cut off at the ankle or go to your feet. Depending on the job, I would always go for a neutral color or pattern over the bold. Also, try to avoid anything in denim and leather (that usually doesn't work well in the office).

For skirts, you want to go with a similar philosophy (nice and clean). You don't want anything that is too bold, but you can wear light patterns with neutral colors. Most places want your hem to be either below the knee or past your fingertips, so keep that in mind with shopping. Pencil skirts are perfect for the office since they are not too flowing, are form-fitting, and look professional with almost anything.

Blouses and Blazers
This part is where most of your money will probably go. While you can recycle the same pant, it is a little more challenging to wear the same top repeatedly. Fortunately, there are fantastic blouses out there that are inexpensive. My rule of thumb (and most office rules) are to get something that can be tucked in, doesn't show too much cleavage, and doesn't have any slits or openings. If you could wear it out to the club on Saturday, it probably isn't for the office.

I love silk shirts since they breathe a little easier and look clean. They also look fantastic tucked into a pencil skirt and worn with a blazer. Speaking of blazers, you should have one (maybe two) on hand at any time. Doing this will make any look instantly look more professional and will also keep you warm (you'd be amazed how cold an office can get). I would get one in a neutral color like grey, black, or white so that you can pair it with anything in your closet.

A dress is a piece that you can hold off on if you don't have the money for it. However, they are also fantastic during the summer. My office job required me to go to other businesses throughout the day and, when it gets hot, a trouser could make me feel suffocated. When you are picking out an office dress you should stick to this main rule; only flash one end. What does this mean? If you have a dress that is a little low, make sure you compensate with a longer hemline. If you have a shorter piece, don't let cleavage show.

Again, if you can wear it to a club, you should probably not wear it to work. These options below are perfect for almost any office and won't break the bank. You can go for a maxi dress, but be cautious when shopping in this department. You want your dress to have that clean look like a pair of pants, not look like you are about to attend Coachella.

For me, this was one I struggled with the most. I didn't know what to wear on my feet, and I didn't have enough money for the shoes that looked office friendly. However, you can find pieces that are inexpensive and look put together. Whether you are a flat or heel person, these options I picked out below are great to start with for a beginner. I usually go for flats since they are more comfortable to walk around in for eight hours a day, but it depends on your preference and the job you have.

When it comes to shoes, stick with the rule that they shouldn't be something you would throw on to get fast food late at night. A neutral colored loafer or black heel is a great start for anything new to the office wardrobe. These picks will match most outfits and can be worn repeatedly throughout the week without a sideways glance.

Again, this was another difficult step for me to master. I'm a girl who likes jewelry, but not necessarily office-friendly pieces. For me, I made a rule to take one piece of jewelry off before I left the house (something you might have to follow as well). For the office, you want your accessories to be simple and seldom. What I mean by this is that you don't want too much going on. If you wear a chunky necklace, don't wear anything else.

Keep everything light. It is okay to wear chunky pieces (in fact, it can look fantastic with office outfits), you want to make sure you don't add anything else. If you aren't into accessories, don't wear them! There is no rule that you have to have earrings to work at an office. This option is entirely up to you and your preferences.

If you are still worried about what to wear, Pinterest is a great place to go. You can look up office friendly outfits and find a vast amount of ideas. I promise it is not as hard as it might seem to create a wardrobe for that desk job. I was scared at first but, after a few weeks, I was dressing like the pros. As long as you make sure you follow the guidelines from your job you'll be fine. What are some of your favorite office pieces? Let me know in the comments below!


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