Let's go shopping: Back to work

Let’s go shopping: back to work outfits

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 19 Comments

This time of year – the time after we’ve all hauled our sorry bums off the beach, out of swimsuits and into regular clothes – is one of the most difficult times in which to dress.

I’m pretty lucky. I work from home so I can keep things casual most of the time but next week I’m off to Sydney for a spot of work so I’ll need to dig deep into my summer work wardrobe for inspiration – not perspiration.

So, I really do spare a big thought for those of you returning to The Coalface {Faux Fuchsia, hope you don’t mind me borrowing the FF language here but it seems even more appropriate when conditions outside air-coned offices are hot, damn hot}.

Getting all suitably frocked or suited up for the office really does seem like so far removed from choosing a kaftan and a blinged-up necklace for a night of beachside cocktails. The irony being that outside the office the weather is so sizzling, that that’s all your feel like wearing … and drinking.

And should you venture outside to the shops during your lunch break, your favourite stores will taunt you with “must-have” winter items because the fashion industry has so MOVED ON from resort wear. I tell you fur vests have no place in store in February. No place.

Oh, and if you’re returning to work after maternity leave {like a lot of mums do at this time of year}, it’s going to be even more of a shock. I remember not even remembering what I used to wear before I went on leave. And when the brain did finally kick in and I did remember, I thought to myself, that’s just not me anymore.

So, in the greater working women’s community interest, I thought I’d help your back to work outfits along with a few tips and shopping suggestions for pieces that you can add to your wardrobe to keep you fresh until the mercury dives to vaguely bearable levels.

Even just adding one or two new pieces will inject a bit of tran-seasonal fashion excitement into your working day. True.

Let's go shopping: Back to work

5 summer work styling tips

1. Unless you have a private driver dropping you from your air-conditioned home to the door of your air-conditioned office, you are going to have master some layering. Murphy’s Law says that when it’s hot, hot, hot outside, inside it’s so bloody freezing you’re lips are turning blue. A light half-sleeve or three-quarter sleeve jacket or cardi is your office water-cooler friend here. Make sure your wardrobe is stocked with a good selection.

2. Stick to natural fabrics as much as possible. Synthetics will stick and cling to you more easily than a seven-year-old trying to wrap his own sandwich in cling wrap.

3. Skip the hosiery, unless your workplace is still operating in the 1950s and dictates it. Use a gradual tanning moisturiser on those legs instead.

4. Opt for skirts, or better still – dresses – over pants. Much better for increased ventilation.

5. Keep outfits interesting with statement accessories.

Shopping suggestions

Here are 12 office wear shopping suggestions available now. Click on each image for a link in the caption to buy the item online.


Do you work in an office? What’s your tip for holding on to your office style when it’s hot outside?

PS. If you missed this post from late last year, you might like to check it out for more corporate style tips.

Comments 19

  1. Summer at work is always tricky when aircon is unpredictable. Your tips are great and I generally go with a similar approach. Smart dresses are an easy choice for summer. My tip would be to go with fitted or shaped dresses as they generally look more professional than loose/flowy dresses (even though they are wonderfully cool).

    I love the little Metalicus jacket you’ve added – they are so handy – I have a black 3/4 sleeve one shoved in my drawer at work, just in case! There are some sweet light jackets around at the moment – I picked up this one a couple of weeks ago http://www.portmans.com.au/shop/en/portmans/clothing/jackets/tux-jacket-with-zips I don’t usually shop in Portmans, but was glad to find this little treasure.

    And now I’m in love with those sandals and the Red Phoenix beads…….yikes.

  2. The first week of school/work always brings with it casy weather which makes wardrobe choices even trickier. But like you said, fab shoes and statement jewellery works a treat. I’m normally a summer lover but seeing autumn clothes in stores really has me wanting a cool change. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Nikki did you write this for ME!? I feel like you are inside my head! I went back to work after mat leave a.few weeks ago and have forgotten entirely how to dress. Apart from my old staple rule of ‘just wear a dress’. Thank you so much for this post.

    1. Target has cotton bike shorts that I wear all the time, even wore them under my wedding dress! I think American Apparel has nude coloured ones too.

  4. Great options Nikki and great timing too! I think accessories and shoes are key. It allows you to get away with a much simpler (read cooler) outfit.

  5. So fortunate in that I now work from home 4 days a week, so there’s only one day I have to properly scrub up now 🙂 Being a back room geek also means I don’t have to really do more than turn up clean and neat (although it is also a good excuse to dress up in whatever the mood dictates – and it generally incorporates heels that are just impractical when wrangling 3 large dogs or visiting the chook yard). Which is a long way of saying that I have a thermal blanket for extra cold days and a rather lovely wool cardigan (thin, black, super long sleeves and front panels. Huge and wonderful swish factor) which works with pretty much anything. It might be a fine knit, but it is brilliant for layering and one of those magical “just right” whatever the temperature is. The irony is that the a/c at work is frequently less than adequate, so it’s not unknown for me to take a cotton voile overshirt in during summer, wet it down, wring out only the worst of the drips and then sit in front of the computers until it’s time to dampen it down again. Mid to high 30s anyone? Actually – how DO you manage in an office where you can’t do the damp clothing variant and the air conditioning is broken?

  6. I don’t work as you know Nikki but there is still occasions I have to dress up for outings and for when I need to be more glam and these outfits you have picked would work well even out of an office,I love the trenery dress and the nude heels and the Redpheonix necklace they would fit in with what I have already got ,they could be show pony’s and inject a bit of sparkle into my current wardrobe basics.It is far too hot to be thinking of furry vests as you say, But I think it will be time to look soon as I think the best new season items come out in the first drop of A/W fashion,though at the moment it would be hard to even try any on in this heat!
    I would love you to do a post on what we need this coming winter but I am sure you have already organised one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.