Shopping for work clothes has its ups and downs. On one end, curating your in-office identity through style can be an enjoyable creative—especially if you snag work clothes that can easily transition from the office to a night out. But, on the other, there are a lot of things to consider, including how to balance your style with what is professionally acceptable, comfortability, and quality.
Another tricky thing about shopping for work clothes: So many of us have spent the last couple of years working in our sweatpants at home, so there’s the added factor of figuring out how to dress for work again.
“You might have to tweak and adjust a few things to make it more work-appropriate, but you can easily keep your style at the office by mixing and matching your favorite pieces with more functional items for work,” says celebrity stylist Naz Meknat, who adds that finding investment pieces that take you from the office to after-work activities—such as dinner with your significant other or drinks with friends—is key.
Meet the Expert
Naz Meknat is a Los Angeles-based celebrity wardrobe stylist and author. She's worked with celebrities including Sterling K. Brown, Tara Reid, and Nyambi Nyambi, among others.
Regardless of where you are on your work clothes journey, we’ve got you covered. Up ahead, find our curated list of the best work clothes for women, including office wear staples that transcend a variety of personal styles, staple items that are sure to become mainstays in your wardrobe, and investment pieces you can wear on repeat for years to come.
Reformation Kinsale Set
This wouldn’t be a work clothes roundup without the iconic pantsuit. For this category, we looked for a pantsuit with an elevated design that stands the test of time. This Reformation pantsuit is our pick, thanks to its classic-meets-modern design that includes flattering wide pant legs and a double-breasted blazer construction. On top of that, it’s made from deadstock fabric, making it an eco-friendly choice, too.
Price at time of publish: $488
Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: 0-12 | Colors: Black, Ivory
Spanx The Perfect Pant, Slim Straight
Since you’re spending most of the day in them, you want your slacks to be as comfortable as possible. This best-selling pull-on style fits the bill, given that it's made with four-way stretch fabric and available in a wide range of sizes for the best possible fit.
Price at time of publish: $148
Material: 68% rayon, 28% nylon, 4% elastane (body) 80% polyester, 20% elastane (lining) | Size Range: XS-3X (in regular, petite, and tall) | Colors: Classic Navy, Black
Everlane The Silky Cotton Relaxed Shirt
Button-down work shirts can be stiff and unflattering, but this one from Everlane is anything but that. Made entirely from cotton, the shirt has a spacious fit for a more relaxed take on professional attire. Best of all, it's versatile, as you can dress it up with a pair of slacks or down with work-appropriate jeans.
Price at time of publish: $85
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 00-16 | Colors: Off-White, Black, Pale Blue, Grey/White, Mariner Blue/White
Best Leather Trousers
Tove Studio Emma Leather Trouser
These won't work for every profession, but those who can take some liberties and enjoy a good pair of statement pants will love these trousers from Tove. It's a straight-leg silhouette that's designed to fall softly at the ankle, with a pleated waist for added detail. It sits gently on the high hip "for a more formal feel," according to the brand.
Price at time of publish: $1,004
Material: 100% leather | Size Range: FR 34-42 | Colors: Black
M.M.LaFleur The Dylan Dress - Slinky Knit
A comfortable, knitted dress will come in handy. This one from M.M.LaFleur is a curve-hugging cut made from an ultra-soft, ribbed knit fabric, which you can wear to work with a pair of trending ballet flats and more casually on the weekend with your favorite sneakers.
Price at time of publish: $245
Material: 71% acetate, 18% polyester, 11% nylon | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: Safari, Adriatic Blue, Pearl, Black
Vince Camuto Elanndo Square Toe Ballet Flat
Ballet flats are a great office shoe on days when you want to dress a little more casually or need a break from heels. These flats feature a square toe versus the round toe traditionally seen on a ballet flat and thus offer a naturally wider toe box for even more comfort. (Your toes won't be crammed together with this shape.) Aesthetically, the leather finish is classic, so you're still sure to appear polished.
Price at time of publish: $89
Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-12 | Colors: Lotus Green, Deep Orchid, Black, Sandstone
G.H. Bass Whitney Super Lug Basic Weejuns
Loafers are a great investment piece for your office wardrobe because they're always in style. We love these loafers by G.H. Bass for the brand's modern take on the traditional penny loafer design with an extra chunky sole. On top of that, they are available in several colors, so you can choose the best hue to express your style.
Price at time of publish: $155
Material: Leather upper with rubber outsole | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, Wine, Black/White
Reformation Miami Pleated Trouser Jeans
These days, wearing jeans to work is a lot more acceptable. The key is to find a pair that look and feel as structured as a pair of slacks, such as these from Reformation. The high-waisted jeans are fitted through the hips and boast two pleats to mimic a traditional pair of trousers. They come in a professional-looking dark blue wash, and, as a bonus, they are made from a mix of regenerative and recycled cotton, which better suits the planet, too.
Price at time of publish: $148
Material: 80% regenerative cotton, 20% recycled cotton | Size Range: 23-31 | Color: Tatum
Theory Oversized Boy Jacket in Good Linen
Every work wardrobe needs a blazer, as it makes for the ideal jacket over everything from slacks and button-downs to jeans and tees (if you work in a more casual environment). And, because they have such timeless styles, they make for great investment pieces. This one from Theory is our top pick not only for its inherent versatility but because it's a great layering piece—lightweight for balmy temperatures but also slightly oversized to serve you on chillier days when you need to wear it with knitwear for extra warmth.
Price at time of publish: $455
Material: 62% linen, 36% viscose, 2% elastane | Size Range: 00-14 | Colors: Mint, Cognac
Athleta Foresthill Merino Wool Ascent Turtleneck
Turtlenecks are a great winter office staple and can be worn with slacks and jeans or worn under dresses—you name it. Our top pick for the best turtleneck is this one from Athleta, thanks to its slim fit, soft, and stretchy fabrication, and inclusive sizing. It was designed to double as activewear, so you know it’s super comfy. Plus, it has thumbholes to keep the sleeves taut.
Price at time of publish: $79
Material: Wool and nylon blend | Size Range: XXS-2X | Colors: Black, Walnut Brown, Dark Sky Violet, Chantilly Cream, Decadent Red
Best Cardigan In Extended Sizing
Caslon Open Front Cardigan
When shopping for work clothes, choosing pieces you can layer is key and cardigans are perhaps one of our favorite layering items. This open-front cardigan from Caslon is available in two office-friendly colors/prints.
Price at time of publish: $79
Material: 89% polyester, 8% nylon, 3% spandex | Size Range: XS-XXL | Colors: Black, Brown Shiitake/Pink Maggie
Alex Mill Suzanne Ribbed Button Front Polo
The polo shirt is a great choice for business casual wear, as it can easily go with a pair of high-waisted trousers, skirts, and even some sleek denim pants. Its soft ribbed texture and full button front put something of an elevated spin on the classic style.
Material: 45% cotton, 35% linen, 20% polyester | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: Ivory, Navy
Polo Ralph Lauren Corset Cotton Mutton-Sleeve Blouse
We’re not going to lie: Choosing the best blouse for work was hard since there are so many cute ones to select from. Ultimately, we decided that a blouse is a great place to have some fun and tie in the trends (corsetry is rising again), so we landed on this Polo Ralph Lauren blouse. The top is both structured and relaxed, because of the corset-style bodice and puff-sleeves. Dress it up with pinstripe trousers or down with a pair of blue jeans.
Price at time of publish: $248
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 00-18 | Color: White
Everlane The Long Mac Coat
A classic trench coat is a must for all work wardrobes as it pairs well with virtually any office attire. The Long Mac Coat from Everlane certainly fits the bill, plus it has an eco-friendly fabrication.
Price at time of publish: $228
Material: 100% cotton with 100% recycled polyester lining | Size Range: XXS-XL | Colors: Toasted Coconut, Stone, Pewter Green
Margaux The Heel
Work heels are tricky because you want something that is both sophisticated and easy on the balls of your feet, like these heels from Margaux. The style is a classic; the height is reasonable; and the block heel works for both formal and casual wear (imagine these with a pair of slim-fit jeans and a white button-down—swoon!).
Price at time of publish: $275
Material: Italian suede upper and leather lining | Size Range: 33-45 | Colors: Black, Midnight, Steel, Spruce +more
Richer Poorer Blanket Socks
Richer Poorer is such a great place to shop for work socks, as the brand has tons of options that feel work-friendly yet fun. These Blanket Socks will subtly add personality to your outfits given their floral design, when paired with loafers or clogs.
Material: Polyester, nylon, acrylic, and wool | Size Range: One size | Colors: Bone, Black
Cuyana Tall Easy Tote
Make your mobile office a functional one with this catchall tote from Cuyana. It's the brand's lightest tote ever, designed to go everywhere and long-lasting (a hardware-free design ensures that metal pieces like a zipper will never wear out).
Price at time of publish: $248
Material: Leather | Size Range: Classic, Tall | Color: Black, Caramel, Cappuccino, Indigo +more
M.M.LaFleur The Carr Jumpsuit
Jumpsuits are great for all atmospheres and occasions, even the office. This one from M.M.LaFleur strikes a great balance between structured and slouchy, and we love how one can wear the sleeves down for a polished and professional look and then roll them up for a more casual vibe.
Price at time of publish: $345
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size Range: XS-XXL | Color: Sepia
What to Look for When Shopping for Work Clothes
The Industry You Work In
“The most important thing to consider is the industry you work in,” says Meknat, referring to how different industries call for varying degrees of formality. You’ll want to consider whether your work environment is casual or formal, if you have to meet with clients and attend meetings or if you spend most of your time behind a desk, and how active you are at work (which would require more comfortable, stretchy fabrics).
Your Personal Style
“Our style and the way we present ourselves to the world is the first impression others will have of us,” says Meknat. “Therefore, it’s important to wear clothes and accessories that authentically represent us and our individuality." While in a professional setting, you don’t need to let go of your style and individuality—you just need to find pieces that feel appropriate for work and true to you.
What is smart casual dress code for work?
“Smart casual dress code could be a pair of tailored pants and a nice sweater or a button-down shirt with no third piece, like a blazer. Or, it could be dark denim [pants], a silk shirt, and a jacket,” Meknat explains. “It can also be a below-the-knee shirt dress in a neutral color." When dressing for a smart casual dress code, Meknat recommends ditching the jacket or cardigan since the third piece usually makes an outfit more formal.
What kind of dresses are appropriate for work?
“If you work in a fashion industry, you could be more playful and trendy with your dress options, but for someone who works in a law office or a school, it might be more appropriate to go with a more classic and conservative style," Meknat says. She notes how, in general, a sheath dress is a great choice for work. “A sheath dress that hits right below the knee with a higher neckline is the safest way to dress for an office." In addition to sheath dresses, wrap dresses, a belted shirt dress, or a tweed column dress in the right length are also great work-friendly choices.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. When researching the best work clothes for women, Jessie searched high and low for staple pieces that fit a variety of styles (and office environments), could easily be mixed and matched, and felt more elevated compared to some traditional workwear options.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough Black-owned and/or Black-founded workwear brands to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.