Wardrobe boot camp: How to take your outfit from day to night

There’s one question that regularly its way into my inbox. What I can wear to work in my reasonably conservative office before heading out to dinner/the movies/a bar with friends/family/my other half.

Recently the how to take your outfit from day to night question came to me via a reader who is reentering the workforce in a conservative office environment. Add to that she is often required at after-hours functions. Add to this a relationship to maintain and friends who seemed to be drifting away. Madame reader wants to be ready to head out on the town at a moment’s notice. From her office to out on the town, that is what she wants.

Madame Reader in her new fancy job needs:

  • Clothes appropriate for a conservative office environment
  • Clothes that would easily transition to an evening look without look too business
  • Clothes that could be utilised in a number of ways to minimise total spend
  • Clothes that were classic and not too trendy

The what to wear from the office to an evening out is one of those questions that seems easy to answer in theory but when it comes down to it is tricky. It’s almost like pulling off an entire costume which given the need to pack and carry all the things you need is annoying at very least.

First I recommend getting to know your office environment, learn what’s acceptable in terms of dress and start to replicate that in your own style. Then once you’ve nailed the office style down, start adding pieces that will work for the office and where you want to go after. Incorporate colours and a bit of shimmer and shine.

Finally when putting your outfit together for the day consider what you’ll need to dress it up, will you be adding or subtracting items of clothes or jewellery. A good quality overnight bag of a reasonable size might be something you could consider if this office swap happens for you on a regular basis. Pack everything you need and be prepared to stow the excess later on.

There are a few keys ideas behind the office to out transition:

  • Pack a simple makeup bag including a bold lip
  • Add statement jewellery after hours
  • Avoid the full shoe swap, wear something that works for day & night
  • Leave unneeded items in your office or car
  • Wear uncrushable fabric to keep you looking great well into the night

Now let’s take a look at some outfits I’ve put together to help you out in your office to out transition.

From the office to date night outfit

1. Metalicus Jacket 2. Country Road Tote 3. Samantha Willis Earrings
4. Lucabella Pants 5. Free Woman Blouse

Built around these stylish and versatile pants, this look combines the softness of the blouse with the evening glam of a studded tote and drop earrings. Great for dinner for two in your favourite restaurant, cocktails or even a movie. Add the geometric jacket for work if your office allows or keep it for later to amp up the fun factor.

From the office to date night outfit

1. Oasis Clutch 2. Samantha Willis Earrings 3. Therapy Duchess Pump via Styletread
4. Country Road Dress 5. Emerge Leather Ruffle Front Jacket

With this look the pop of colour from the shoes is going to be amped up at night with the addition of the clutch. Add to this a fun tailored leather jacket and you’re all set for ladies night. This dress is such a stylish and unique piece that during the day, especially for the warmer months, it will work beautifully for the office. Yet it is fun enough to head out on the town no matter where the night leads …

monochrome office to dinner outfit

1. Fendana Bag via Wittner 2. Embody Denim Chloe Cross Over Blouse
3. Katies Textured Black Skirt 4. SABA Tuxedo Jacket 5. Topper Heels via Wittner

I adore this look, simply wear the longline tuxedo jacket throughout the day and remove it for evening to reveal this gorgeous cross over blouse with a peek of skin at the back. Great for dinner, cocktails and more. The simplicity of monochrome and classic lines makes this an easy transition. Keep the heel simple, the purse classic and you’ll be set to go anywhere.

Those are my tips for creating a look to take you from the outfit to out on the town using items that are versatile and conservative during office hours. I think whatever the dress code of your office you’re most likely to amp things up a bit to head out in the evening. Use this transition to add a bit more punch and personality to your existing look. Have some fun. And don’t forget to either check those excess items at the door, or leave them behind.

Tell me YOUR best tips for getting out of the office and out on the town in style. What’s your go-to look?

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melissa walker horn suger coat it profile image Melissa Walker Horn is the chief blogger at Suger Coat It, a blog about living the sweet life. Known as Suger, Melissa loves her family, too much butter on fresh bread and anything with stripes on it. She created the Confident You series and shares her love of fashion, the gym and cooking most days of the week on her blog or via her weekly newsletter. A social media addict and consultant, you will find Melissa anywhere you search for Suger with an e.    

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  • coco

    every woman needs to see this. such a great way to transition. i find blazers and accessories can really liven up any outfit

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks Coco! I absolutely agree.

  • Kelly

    I don’t work in an environment which is uber corporate so going from work to after work is not so tricky. Actually for me it is not tricky at all … I would need to find a much more exciting life for that to happen!! he hee. That aside – some of those options are great. I can see a few add to carts in the near future.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      There are always add to carts for me Kelly!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      I hear you on the life needing to get more exciting! For me too. Haha.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Lovely outfit choices I love the Country Road dress,that could work for a number of occasions I am a dress girl BTW Melissa ,Great post Thank-You.

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you Lisa. I agree about that dress, it’s gorgeous. As soon as I saw it I knew it would HAVE to be one of the centrepieces.

  • sydneyshopgirl

    Well played, Mel!

    Really love the outfits and the practical tios.

    Heading back to work soon and needed this great edit of the current season at real world prices.

    SSG xxx

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you SSG! I can see you in that Country Road dress my friend. For sure!

      I can’t believe it’s time for you to go back to work already!! WOW. Time flies when you’re having fun with gorgeous bouncing baby boys. Haha.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh, that will be a new adjustment SSG … good luck xx

  • http://www.lovemeagainboutique.com.au/ Bev – Love Me Again Boutique

    I love all of those outfits Mel. Great choice…I might just have to investigate that gorgeous crossover back blouse a bit further though ;)

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks Bev! I had a great time wading through the new seasons releases. Poor me, what a hard job. Haha. Certainly check out that blouse, it’s such a gorgeous piece. Great quality brand too.