At the start of the new year, I began feeling restless. Read my last post here for more on how I’m managing that. I felt suffocating inside my home, even in my brain. I felt like I had let the holidays consume me, and every Christmas song and ritual was playing on repeat in my mind. Even the holiday red color was haunting me. Don’t get me wrong or take me for a grinch, but once the holidays are over, I am ready to box that up like I do my Christmas tree and holiday decor and move along until December of the following year comes around.
So, January 1st comes along, and I’m ready to take back my routine and establish some new ones. Part of that includes forming some of the structure I had pre-COVID and missed, such as getting into a physical space surrounded by people. There are many things COVID taught me about myself and my work style, one of them is I need a reason to get up before 7 am and put on a pair of jeans. That means putting time on my calendar to go into an office.
If that’s what this year looks like for you as well, I have some pieces I’ve recently purchased. Some are investment pieces, and some are budget-friendly everyday staples. Either way, they fall within the high-low wardrobes, a wardrobe style I’m fond of and have happily seen pop up a lot on other blogs.
This guide will help you create a classic and effortless work style from top to bottom.
Semi-fitted button-up shirt
A button-up shirt offers so much versatility. I love that it can be styled for casual to formal wear and everything in between. Do you want to wear it in between meetings? Pull it on over a white sports bra and black leggings, add a pair of clean white sneakers and a blazer or oversized cardigan, and you’ve got a quick office look.
Or, if you want to wear it to run errands while achieving a tailored look? Style it with some jeans and add a cozy cardigan or denim jack and some booties or sneakers (like I wear here), and you’ve got the perfect weekend style that is thoughtful and styled.
Lastly, you can wear a button-up shirt to dress to impress in the office. Wear it tucked into a pair of navy, black, or tan trousers with your favorite heel, chic sneaker, or loafers.
Jeans, Trousers, and Tailored Pants
When it comes to jeans and my bottoms in general, this is an area I don’t compromise on quality and splurge a bit more than with my tops. A good quality pair of denim jeans, trousers, or leggings will go a long way. And, more importantly, when washed and treated correctly, they will last you much longer.
I have a petite frame, at five-foot-three inches, so finding trousers that don’t require alterations is a gold mine. I’ve fallen in love with Abercrombie’s Tailored Relaxed Straight Pant this year. I love the tailored fit; more importantly, they come in petite sizing. That means that my short stature and petite frame won’t be drowning in the flow of the pants, and I can feel comfortable and ready to tackle the work day and dinner afterward.
Denim is one area where I am constantly looking for the holy grail. That one pair of jeans has the perfect combination of cotton and stretch fabric; it’s tailored and keeps its form but also has some give that forms to my body as I go about my day. So I’m here to proudly say that if you are looking for that same formula, I’ve found it, but they come at a price.
In my opinion, Mother Denim’s Tomcat jeans in color On the Run and Oui Oui are the perfect jeans for anyone under five-foot-five inches, and honestly, any height above that as well–it just depends on how you like your jeans to fit.
Lastly, slightly-relaxed tailored pants can take you from everyday work from home to a dinner date or movie night out with your girls in a pinch. The tailored pants I’ve also become a fan of and bought in multiple colors are the Lululemon Stretch High-Rise Cropped Pants 23,” and the Amazon replica version of those, the AJISAI 7/8 Joggers Travel Pants.
Both pants offer the versatility to transition from setting to setting and season to season. I style these pants with a pullover sweater and sneakers during the warmer winter days, and on the cooler spring days, I’ll style them with one of my favorite Anthony Thomas Melillo Schoolboy Crew Tees.
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Cardigans and Blazers
There is something about the thermostat of an office always being a little extra chilly, which means always being prepared with a sweater. But that is not a complaint because I honestly love any excuse to finish my look with a stylish and cozy cardigan or blazer.
Like the hunt for the perfect denim jeans, I’ve been hunting for the perfect cardigan, and I think I’ve finally found the two that every wardrobe needs.
The two cardigan styles a wardrobe needs are a relaxed fit cardigan that can be pulled on over a fitted or loose tee, denim shorts or pants and leggings, and a more fitted cardigan that styles well with trousers, skirts, and dresses.
Reformation’s Benny Cashmere Collared Cardigan and Fantino Collared Cardigan are soft and come in chic and neutral colors. Both of Reformation’s cardigans meet and arguably exceed the criteria for both wardrobe staples. The Benny Cashmere Cardigan is perfect for styling for a more formal setting, such as going from your work desk to dinner or a date night out. Comparably, because the Fantino Collared Cardigan is a loose and more boxy style, it is best styled with jeans or leggings.
Lastly, you can’t forget a well-made and styled blazer. While I’m not impartial to a classic navy or black blazer, every wardrobe needs the timeless finish and color palette of a tan plaid or houndstooth blazer. I purchased the Rails Jac Cambridge Plaid Blazer this season and love the pattern and color palette. It’s a light Carmel color with hints of brown and navy–making for a versatile jacket that can easily be styled all year.
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Sneakers, Heels, and Flats
If there’s anything I’ve learned about my taste in fashion over the past three years, I value comfort when it comes to shoes. I love heels, but I don’t gravitate toward them. I may have mentioned this in a past post, but my preferred outfit is a comfortable pair of form-fitting jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. Since I discovered Golden Goose (GG) Superstar Leather sneakers four years ago, I’ve quickly become a big admirer of their cushion, comfort, and slight tomboy style. But when I’m not wearing my GG sneakers, I have other sneakers I will reach for in my closets.
Something about how the right show for the right occasion makes me feel: when I step into a comfortable shoe that completes my look, I feel like Cinderella stepping into her glass slippers at the beginning of her evening. My look is instantly transported from head to toe, and I come into my element and ready for the evening to take away.
The On Cloudnova Form Sneakers have become my favorites for their versatility. The wide sole of these shoes combined with the mesh fabric gives the footbed support and breathing room. And, most importantly, they are so comfortable. The arch support and cushioning make the On Cloudnova sneakers perfect for running errands in a rush or long walks through the city or park. Or for a casual day at the office.
The second pair of shoes I’ve recently purchased and established in my wardrobe is a quality loafer. I recently purchased the Sam Edelman Lars Lug Loafer. This shoe is an office wardrobe must-have. Easily style it with midi or maxi skirts, dresses, trousers, and jeans. These run a bit snug, so I recommend either sizing up, wearing them around the house, or stretching them. Madewell’s Corinne Lugsole Loafer and Reformation’s Agathea Chunky Loafer are popular loafer styles.
Flats and Oxford
An oxford loafer is a classic and more low-profile shoe than the lug loafer. Like the lug loafer, the oxford can be styled with every piece in the wardrobe, from trousers to dresses and just about everything in between. The heel is shorter compared to the lug loafer sibling, so it may be a better fit if you’re on your feet for an extended period. I own the Sam Edelman Loraine Bit Loafer and reach for them often and style them with a favorite long-sleeve tee or printed blouse and jeans. Another classic loafer is the Coach Outlet Haley Loafer; at under $120, they are another beautiful shoe to add to a classic office wardrobe.
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I hope this guide serves you well, provides you with some fashion inspiration for your office wardrobe, and gives you the empowering feeling every wardrobe should provide everybody.