April 21, 2022
When you love clothes as much as I do, you begin to see every day as a promise of at least one thing: a new opportunity to put together an outfit.
Some people dread the act of finding an outfit to wear for work, but I actually think it’s one of the more fun sartorial occasions we can dress for. (That depends, of course, on where you work.) Workplace outfits tend to be dressy, but casual — a sometimes confusing line to walk and one that is best walked in comfortable heels — and bring about a challenge of finding new ways to make your well-known “work clothes” look fresh every day. But there are ways! Oh yes, there are ways.
Building a work wardrobe is hardly any different than building a wardrobe for home, or a workout wardrobe, or a going-out wardrobe. In every case, you start by investing in basics and then sprinkle in items that elevate your look — color, accessories, textures and heels.
Many items that have been trendy recently also work well in a work environment — it just might not always be apparent by the way they’re styled on runways and on Instagram. For example, long trousers, boxy blazers, sweater vests, heels and turtlenecks are all on-trend, easily available from various retail outlets and can take you from day to night with a couple of simple tweaks. The best items in your closet are the versatile ones.
We’ve created six looks that exemplify our tips for creating a current and chic collection of clothes and accessories for work — and paired them each with a pair of VICE VERSA’s comfortable high heels that fold into flats. No work wardrobe works without comfort.
Before reading further, take a minute to think about your own wardrobe and assess the items that you already have and enjoy wearing. Outfit inspiration only works as long as you can incorporate it realistically into your life and into your closet. As tempting as it can be to sell and donate most of your clothes and start fresh whenever you’re in a rut, you should trust past versions of you. They were trying their best to reflect who you were at the time. Maybe those items aren’t on trend right now, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t repurpose them and find new ways to style them. All of these outfits can be recreated, at least in part, with items you likely already have in your closet.
1. Incorporate color wisely
Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean that you need to look boring. If you’re following a standard corporate dress code, one in which you’re expected to look professional and presentable and polished, then play around within those parameters. Define those words for yourself. After all, there’s no one definition for any of those when it comes to workplace style. There might be items that are off-limits, like jeans or open-toe heels, but there are sure to be plenty of pieces that are allowed.
Begin with a solid base — ours consists of a black A-line skirt and black, leather, slingback, convertible heels, but any neutral trousers and skirt with matching heels would work — and add color on top in the form of a cobalt blue cotton blouse with bows, such as this one from Verity and Daughters. Throw on a patterned blazer for when the office air conditioning blasts too much frigid air in your direction and finish the look with a pair of pearl drop earrings. Sophisticated? Sure. Boring? Absolutely not.
2. Classics are classic for a reason
When it comes to work style, there’s a tried-and-true outfit combination that rarely fails: a white button down, pair of trousers, comfortable high heels and earrings. And just as classic as the formula are the colors we used in our second look: black, white, red and gold. Channel glamorous energy for your workday with a crisp linen shirt, such as this made-to-order one from Irish brand Kindred of Ireland, a pair of vintage earrings (Etsy is full of affordable vintage pairs), black trousers that skim the floor and a pair of VICE VERSA’s convertible heels in scarlet red — the most comfortable heels for work, since you can fold them into flats whenever you like, and comfortable heels are a must.
3. It’s all about the accessories
For a summer work event, perhaps the kind where you stand on a concrete patio in the blazing sun making charming conversation with clients and colleagues, you’ll need to wear something cool, chic and comfortable. Here’s a look that fits the bill: an A-line dress that covers most of your body while keeping your arms exposed to fresh air and welcoming a breeze on your legs, worn with black embellished convertible heels and an unexpected pair of earrings. We love this pair by Les Néréides that resemble juicy oranges still attached to their tree branches. Freshen up any of your go-to matching work ensembles with a fun pair of earrings and elegant heels. (Pro tip: Wear convertible heels to go from your workplace to your work event to dinner and drinks without worrying about changing into another pair of shoes.)
4. Choose a color and lean into it
Color psychology says that wearing certain colors can elicit specific responses from others, perhaps for evolutionary reasons, according to Real Simple. You may get more of an emotion boost from wearing some colors than others. An undeniable fact, however, is that wearing clothing you love makes you feel more confident, regardless of the color. If color makes your heart sing, then try a monochromatic look that strays from the typical shades of cream or beige — try lilac purple. This patterned periwinkle dress from Wray NYC is dying to be worn with some comfortable heels, such as VICE VERSA’s shimmer heels in mist purple. Throw on a black blazer to tie the look together and remind everyone who is (a very fun) boss.
5. It’s all in the layers
We love a layering queen who knows how to have fun with her clothes. By layering jackets, scarves and jewelry together, you add dimension and depth to an outfit, offering new details and shapes depending on how you sit, stand and move around. Once again, build a look using beloved basics — perhaps you’ll find inspiration from this combination of neutral Rachel Comey trousers and a tank — then follow your whims. A sheer sky blue trench? Go for it! A voluminous linen scarf? The more the merrier. Convertible heels? Perfect. Pink earrings that dangle from your ears? It works, surprisingly. Finish the look with comfortable heels for work in the form of black convertible heels by VICE VERSA. This is an example of a look that can look different every time you wear it as long as you rotate key pieces, like a jacket, jewelry or comfortable heels.
6. Just because no one sees you doesn’t mean you can’t look cute
Around 60% of workers whose work can be done remotely are working from home, according to a February poll by the Pew Research Center. With so many people working remotely, often from home offices or big, comfy couches, a post about work outfits is incomplete without incorporating an outfit that is ideal for the living room — one you can move in and feel totally unrestricted.
Of course, sweats and athleisure are wonderful options for a work-from-home uniform. But they aren’t the only option — nor are they superior, necessarily, when so many cozy kinds of materials and designs exist. Take for example, a knit cotton sweater vest, like this navy one from sustainable Spanish brand Babaà. It’s flowy and sturdy and flexible. Worn with an oversized pair of cotton and linen trousers with a drawstring waist, you’ll feel just as unrestricted as you would in sweats but look much more chic, in case there was an impromptu video meeting to happen. And if you do need to log onto Zoom, clasp a vintage necklace around your neck to bring some visual interest into your look and virtual box on the laptop screen. Slip on a pair or VICE VERSA mules, worn as flats for optimal comfort or as comfortable heels if you want a boost, when you travel to get coffee, or even indoors to do laundry or make lunch. Work from home can even begin to feel elegant, if you allow it to.