What Should I Include in an Office Wardrobe?

Patti Kate

When building your office wardrobe, you need to consider your workplace's dress code polices. Some offices have a casual or semi-casual dress code, while others will require a more formal style of dress. The male office wardrobe basics will typically include a dress shirt and tie, sport jacket, and dress slacks, or a full suit, depending upon the policy. For the ladies, dress slacks and sweaters or blouses will generally suffice, although skirts and dresses may also be included in an office wardrobe.

A dress shirt.
A dress shirt.

Whether the office wardrobe is designed for a man or a woman, basic and neutral colors should be a priority. This makes it easy to mix and match separates without having to spend a small fortune in doing so. Every set of clothes for the office should contain at least one white shirt for both men and women. Choosing a few other shirts or blouses in other solid colors or stripes can be an option. It's always a good idea to include one pair of basic black trousers or slacks, along with a navy, tan, or brown pair.

A nice pair of black dress shoes may be included in an office wardrobe.
A nice pair of black dress shoes may be included in an office wardrobe.

Shoes will be another essential part of your wardrobe. Choose shoes that are comfortable while considering the latest styles and fashion. Ladies can choose a pair or two of pumps if desired, but at least one pair of flats should be a consideration. Black or brown should match well with your outfits. A man's wardrobe should include one brown pair and at least two pairs of black dress shoes for the office. Shoe polish may be necessary, depending upon the type of shoes you decide upon.

A woman's office wardrobe may consist of skirts, dresses, slacks, blouses, and nice shoes.
A woman's office wardrobe may consist of skirts, dresses, slacks, blouses, and nice shoes.

Fitted blazers can make a fashionable statement for a ladies' office wardrobe. If the department store styles don't seem to fit quite right, consult with a tailor. This small investment could help you attain the perfect fit for that must-have blazer you found on the rack of your local clothing store.

Ties are appropriate attire for men in many office settings.
Ties are appropriate attire for men in many office settings.

Some office jobs allow employees to wear very casual attire. Although it is uncommon, some circumstances may permit blue or black jeans. In some situations, you might be able to wear khaki pants and a casual top. If so, you probably already have several items in your wardrobe to mix and match.

A blouse and a simple skirt would meet the requirements of a semi-casual dress code.
A blouse and a simple skirt would meet the requirements of a semi-casual dress code.
Offices often have a semi-casual dress code that allows outfits like button-down shirts and sweaters.
Offices often have a semi-casual dress code that allows outfits like button-down shirts and sweaters.
Pumps with a rounded toe and a low heel may be more appropriate for day-to-day wear around the office.
Pumps with a rounded toe and a low heel may be more appropriate for day-to-day wear around the office.
Black, polished dress shoes are viewed as an integral part of a man's office wardrobe.
Black, polished dress shoes are viewed as an integral part of a man's office wardrobe.
Shoe polish may be a necessary staple for cleaning leather office shoes.
Shoe polish may be a necessary staple for cleaning leather office shoes.

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Discussion Comments

Catapult

@Denha- I think this is especially true when you are talking about things like job interviews. Overdressing for an interview is not nearly as awkward as under dressing, and it can make a real difference in how you are remembered, I think.

Denha

It's become a common catchphrase to say "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." The idea is that eve if your office or job has a fairly relaxed dress code, if you always look smart and well put together, it will reflect positively on you in your supervisors' eyes, possibly helping you get promoted or, when you leave, getting you a good reference for something else. It is never a bad idea to dress better than the office attire, in my opinion.

sherlock87

It had become pretty easy, if you have no real dress clothes, to find them cheaply at places like thrift stores or charity shops.

I recently needed some for an audition, and I had no black pants that fit me. I found some pants at one thrift store, a nice shirt at another, and then a cardigan at a discount store. It helped me look the part without spending much at all.

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