What to wear to work: 7 easy tips to crush your office style


What to wear to work

What to wear to work is a strategic part of your work life so plan well. Consider your work environment, routine and personal style. Invest in good quality clothes and accessories. Create a capsule wardrobe with your core pieces. Mix and match them to create a constantly changing consistent style.

Being serious and intentional about what to wear to work each day is a good career strategy. Women who are intentional about what they wear convey a strong identity.

Because of its daily, regular, sometimes unrelenting nature choosing what to wear to work can feel oppressive or overwhelming.

But it doesn’t need to be like that. With a few good tips (see below) you can create a collection of work clothes that will nail your office style. Rather than scrabbling around each morning, planning in advance will give you back some peace and calm in the morning, making what to wear to work an integral, intentional part of your day.


Our tips cover:

  1. Be intentional about what you wear to work
  2. Actively like and appreciate what you wear
  3. Wear what reflects your character
  4. Create a Work ‘look’
  5. Create a work capsule wardrobe
  6. Plan ahead
  7. Accessorise
  8. Action points – what to do now

Don’t underestimate the value of turning up each day looking like you are ready to work and to meet the day head on. Looking good at work conveys intentionality in the same way that a clean desk and organised paperwork shows that you are well organised and prepared to do the job that you do.

Why being intentional about what you wear is a good career strategy

Women who are intentional about what they wear convey a strong identity.  If you are intentional about what you wear, the positive results will be two fold:

  1. You will convey confidence and authority in your work place, and
  2. you will feel more confident and this boosts your self esteem.

In other words, by being intentional about what you wear, you create a virtuous circle.  You look confident, which makes you feel confident, which makes you look confident and authoritative.

woman looking good who knows what to wear for work
What to wear to work: How to look good every day

Who needs this blog post?

You need this blog post if:

  • your life is on autopilot, you are overwhelmed with children and/or family and you have no time to think let alone plan what to wear to work
  • you would like to look great at work consistently but don’t know where to start
  • you are returning to work after a career break, and don’t know where to start pulling a work wardrobe together.
  • your life has become monotonous and routine and you’d like to inject some personality back in but don’t know how.

How not to get dressed

Early on in my blog writing career I met a lady through an online course.  We got chatting and I told her how I was changing my work to write blogs and give online rather than direct, wardrobe advice, in addition to designing clothes.  She said to me, “I always wear black trousers and a white shirt”.  She said she had no interest in wearing anything else.

She was very creative, had written many books and travelled extensively.  I couldn’t help thinking that her wardrobe was based purely on practicality and a lack of confidence, as well as her feeling self consciousness about her weight.  So her uniform had become her armour.  Locking herself in, she felt safe from the world.

This is not what you are aiming for when you get dressed.  You are aiming not to hide your identity, but to use your identity to make confident choices about what to wear.  Those choices in turn reflect your identity back at you yourself and outward towards others: your colleagues; your family; your friends.

We are here to help

We, at Working Frocks, are right here to encourage you on to look your best in any and every work situation.  We firmly believe that the quality of your life will improve by wearing exactly the right clothes for you, and we are here to help you achieve that look. If black trousers and white shirt are your intentional look, and they can look really amazing and professional, then great. Just don’t let what you wear stop you from expressing who you are, or from dumbing down your life in any way.

So, read on for 7 ways to be intentional about what you wear to work.

1. Be intentional about what to wear to work

You only need to wear one outfit every day, so make it count.  Make it the best of what your office dress code is. If you work fulltime then your week is dominated by your work. At the end of each day you might not want to think about work any more. But work is part of your life, so be just as intentional about your work clothes as what you would wear for any other occasion, like a party, or drinks out with girlfriends, or a dinner out with your beloved.

2. Actively like and appreciate what you wear

Don’t wear clothes just because you can fit into them or because you have been wearing them for years without really thinking about it.  You should actively like what you wear.  Don’t wear something just because you fit in and can remain anonymous. Make it easy but don’t make it boring!

3. Wear what reflects your character

Even if you work in a very formal environment you will be able to do this.  Do not dumb down your character.  Do not dress for someone else. Do not dress trying to be someone else.  This can be problematic for some women.  Tomorrow, the next post, I’m going to address how to dress to reflect your character for those of you who need a refresh or need some guidance.

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4. Create a work ‘look’

How do you want to appear each day at work, to your work colleagues, in meetings, at your desk? Even if you are working from home and only appearing virtually each day to your co-worker, this is still just as important as if you are physically present in the office.

Do you want to look smart, informal, trendy, classic, modern or arty? Or something else entirely? In deciding what to wear to work take into consideration your own taste primarily. Also take into consideration the work environment in which you find yourself if there are any restrictions on dress code there. For example if you work in a very formal environment you may have to rein in your uber-arty dress code slightly. Try not to remove it entirely though. Getting dressed each day is a form of self-expression.

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5. Create a work capsule wardrobe

A good strategy that makes the decision making process around what to wear to work much easier is to create a capsule collection of clothes specifically for work. You don’t need many items, just try and make them interchangeable and you will find that you get a great variation of work outfits from just a few clothes. These can be clothes which you don’t wear when you are not at work and is something I recommend.

Even more, try and have a different look when you are not at work and really separate out your work life from your home life. You may be transitioning back to working from the office in a hybrid of full time capacity in which case a specific capsule wardrobe that is ‘polished, comfortable and versatile’ may be the answer.

6. Plan ahead

As the seasons change, adjust your work clothes accordingly. If some of your clothes are past their best plan in advance to replace them. You can plan to buy bigger items such as coats, boots, bags in the sale so plan that shopping trip ahead of time. Be proactive in deciding what to wear to work, treat it like a game.

7. Accessorise

Well chosen accessories can make an outfit. What jewellery do you wear to work? Could you wear specific items for work that become part of your work style? Some women like to wear bold necklaces for work as statement jewellery. Other women like a classic look, pearl earrings, discrete watch. Whatever your style is, make it your own. Check out the blog post on personal style signifier.

Woman in business dress looking confident
Looking good is a matter of confidence

Action points: What to do now

If you want to take action and are ready to look great for work every day then get started with 2 easy action points:

1. Your first action tip to do today is to go to your wardrobe and remove anything that you don’t like, that you wear on autopilot.  Take it/them to the charity shop where it can be freed to be worn by someone who loves it.

2. Your second action point is to find an outfit that you truly love and that makes you happy and confident.  Take it out of your wardrobe, accessorise it with shoes, jewellery, jacket, cardigan, coat, whatever it needs.  Now it is ready for tomorrow and you can look forward to wearing it

For other blog posts which address what to wear in the work environment try:

Succeed at work by paying attention to what you wear at home 

10 mini challenges while you are working from home

Work/Life balance

How to go back to work and look amazing

Wear what you love, love what you wear.  You only have one life, fill it with clothes you love!

Bye for now,


Sarah Banks is a designer, blogger and internet entrepreneur. Having started her entrepreneurial life with a couture wedding and day dress company she then got hooked on all things on-line, bringing her businesses online and fusing both worlds. Her experience and knowledge in creating one-off garments for her clients was the foundation for Working Frocks and she is uniquely placed to give styling advice, being not only a blogger, but a couture designer too.

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