Spring wardrobe essentials: workwear

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 44 Comments

Did you catch last week’s post about spring wardrobe essentials for the weekend – or during the week if, like me, you pretty much wear casual every day?

This week, as part of my spring wardrobe essentials mini-series, I’m putting my best working foot forward.

Yes, I’m lucky enough to work at home (if lucky means being able to hang out a load of washing as a prescribed break from the computer) but I do have to lift my workwear game should I have meetings or networking events in Sydney.

As someone who worked in an office for 20 years, I’ve loved watching the evolution of workwear during that time and since. It’s no longer taboo to bring a little creativity into office style. If you want inspiration on that front, Cheryl from blog BusinessChic has bucket loads.

Office dress codes still exist – and in some cases have got more official and are now set out in writing. Mostly these serve to maintain a standard of dress across the board – for men and women. There are also usually workplace, health and safety requirements pertinent to that workplace. However, I do know that there are workplaces out there that still specify some odd requirements. Can you believe in 2013 that in some offices women are still expected to wear hosiery as part of the dress code?

The most tricky part about dressing for the office in spring and summer is that the climate inside an air-conditioned building really doesn’t change throughout the year. It’s just when you walk outside for lunch or to go home that the heat can hit you.

The way around this is layering. And always having on hand a jacket or cardi that you can pop on in the office when the chill factor sets in.

I’ve got three work outfit suggestions for you: the frock (yes, I’m a cracked record on that one), the pants and the skirt. All three may not apply exactly to your workplace or your wardrobe personality but hopefully they can provide a bit of shopping inspiration for a spring wardrobe injection.

With the pants outfit, I’ve purposely styled this for a more casual day the office. Perhaps you have Casual Friday. Perhaps you work in a more creative, relaxed environment?

I’ve also worked each of the outfits back with black as these are pieces that you may already have in your wardrobe – adding a splash of colour takes them from winter to spring.

And, finally, you’ll once again find accessories starring in these outfits. Accessories are the easiest way for you to inject creativity and personality into a work outfit.

spring essentials workwear - the dress

1. Sacha Drake dress $265 | 2. Metalicus jacket $169.95 | 3. I Love Lola collar necklace $59.95 | 4. Mollini heels $139.95 @ Style Tread

Style notes: Nothing gets you out the door in the morning more quickly than having an arsenal of frocks in your work wardrobe. One garment to throw on and you’re good to go. Frocks in a timeless style like this Sacha Drake one will serve you for many years. In the office or until it really heats up, the Metalicus jacket offers warmth and a splash of colour. Jacket off and you still can splash colour around with a necklace.

spring wardrobe essentials workwear - the skirt

1. Katies jacket $34.95 on sale | 2. Target skirt $39 | 3. Sterling & Hyde bag $259.95 | 4. RMK wedges $129.95 @ Style Tread

Style notes: Let’s combine a few of this season’s trends, shall we? A monochrome skirt is a new twist on a classic style and adding a floral blazer keeps the outfit fresh and fun. A versatile work bag will always be a winner but make sure its in good condition to keep your outfit looking polished. The height of shoes you wear to work is an individual thing. Wedges or kitten heels are a high heel alternative.

spring wardrobe essentials - workwear pants casual friday

1. City Chic jacket $79.95 | 2. Crossroads pants $39.95 | 3. Red Phoenix Emporium necklace $159 | 4. Mela Purdie singlet $129 @ Zambezee | 5. Django & Juliette loafer $129.95

Style notes: The Casual Friday phenomenon seems like it’s here to stay – and some offices have a more relaxed dress code every day of the week. This is the perfect combination of dressed down office attire but is still a polished look. It’s also an outfit that can take you from the office out to drinks (dare I say, just add heels?).

Do you work in a office? What’s the dress code? What do you usually wear to work in spring?

Comments 44

  1. I love dresses, the simplicity of just having to throw that on without having to think about mixing & matching is fab! I’ve discovered a love for work pants though, so comfy & make my legs look long haha who doesn’t love that!?

  2. I feel like a frock is a frock which can’t really be changed up within itself but separates are more versatile and can be mixed and matched. But perhaps I am not seeing it from the right perspective here!

    1. That’s true May but the perspective here is one of time and not having much of it in the morning (particularly if you have children to get the door as well), the dress is a no-brainer, no-think option and can be easily swapped with different shoes and accessories for a fresh look.

  3. I work from home too Nikki so completely identify with the “laundry break” LOL. It’s been fun gradually changing my wardrobe from corporate to more casual, with some dressier bits and pieces for meetings with clients. Love this lifestyle! We are so blessed!

  4. I work in an office and our dress code is business style, but not uber conservative ie. not suits and stockings.

    I love a frock and that SD one is gorgeous. I’m a big fan of frocks for work as they are easy to wear and easy to care for. I’m all for reducing the dry-cleaning bill too. I had a bit of a shop recently at Leona Edmiston and scored 4 dresses for $500. I was very happy with that.

  5. Hoorah! I have that Target black and white skirt! Was actually thinking of wearing a neon top with it. My brave new Styling You approach. 🙂

  6. Nikki I love this post, but I am confused. The Crossroads pants are what I would have called 3/4 pants. I like wearing this style but thought you didn’t recommend it? Maybe you mean a wider leg version is the one not to wear. I love the collar necklace but wouldn’t have thought about putting it with a patterned dress. Will have to try that one. Also love the loafers.

    1. Hi Louise, yes in my post about 3/4 pants I clarify the difference. Cropped capris don’t have all that excess fabric flapping around the widest part of your calf, they emphasise the ankles, the most narrow part. And yes you can mix the necklace with the pattern as it’s anchored by the black.

      1. That’s great. Glad to know I am getting it right. I only have one pair of cropped pants these days anyways. Previously had many. Thanks again Nikki.

  7. Love, love, love the third outfit Nikki. I have ordered the shoes! Contemplating ordering the jacket. Will I…won’t I??!! It would go so great with the shoes and cover my arms and wouldn’t be too hot to wear. Yep – just talked myself into it 🙂

  8. Hi Nikki, as I work at home No.3’s the look for me, I love it all right down to the airconditioned loafers! Very cool. My friend and I were just saying we need a lightweight summer jacket to throw on instead of a cardi – I’d like to find one less-kimono-like as I’m petite and I don’t want it to be too billowy – I need a Nina rolled-up-sleeves-with tabs number! xx

  9. Thanks for another great post Nikki. I’m in the public sector, and while there is a level of professionalism required in what we wear we do have a fair bit of leeway (especially on casual Fridays!). The dress pairing is definitely my go-to look ATM – I rock a simple fit & flare dress with a cardi or blazer, hosiery appropriate to the weather (if needed) and neutral shoes (I vary between heels and ballet flats) pretty much everyday. Today is casual day – I’m in a knee-length black pinafore dress over a white 3/4 sleeve T, paired with red Volleys and a denim blazer with simple accessories. I feel like a slightly more polished version of my teen self in this look and it’s VERY me http://www.polyvore.com/wiwt_september_lbd_day_legacy/set?id=96474034

  10. I work in an office but am in and out of the office and the car – which can be a bit tricky. Basically I wear corporate casual and don’t have a set dress code but have to meet with clients so need to look professional but also approachable too. I think I could certainly incorporate a little bit of all those outfits. Love those loafers too!

  11. I’m trying to embrace your dress advice and have purchased a b & w Country Rd dress + a CR skirt and fitted top. As I work from home no aircon and it’s a bit nippy here in Auckland, so still in layers of ponti pants, or jeans and merino:) Love your inspiration.

  12. I like these outfits you have chosen for an office Nikki or somewhere more dressy. I love the dress the best and then the pants outfit,I am not much of a skirt person,I think it is because a dress is so easy to dress up with a jacket ,thankyou for more shopping ideas.

  13. Well, since I wear athletic gear to work for my ‘day job’, I love dressing up in regular (although creative) workwear for blogging events and networking!
    You know I’m a fan of adding colour to pretty much every outfit, and the whole Spring-printed-pants thing is taking over my wardrobe!

  14. Thanks for mentioning my blog, Nikki!

    Love your style picks as always – although with respect to heel height, as someone who spends a lot of time looking out for stylish workers to photograph – please make sure that you can walk properly! There have been a number of times where I’ve seen GREAT outfits but the poor person is hobbling along such that I feel like it’d be irresponsible of me to encourage their footwear! It’s nice to look good when standing in front of the mirror but that’s all lost if the outfit is not functional!

    1. I totally agree – that’s why I mentioned that the height of the shoes is a personal thing. I’m all for heels or flats or in between but they have to be shoes you can be in for the long haul or swap out with flats to and from work.

    2. So true Cheryl – there’s not much that ruins a chic sighting faster than seeing the wearer hobble about like a newborn fawn…

  15. My company have just introduced a relaxed business casual dress code as opposed to business attire. Quite possibly because everyone except business leaders and sales people were quite casual. Many people have embraced jeans but I don’t really know what to go with my casual wardrobe is probably too casual. I do also like the change to dressing up at bit when I am not home with the kids.
    Any advice?

    1. Hi Trudi – if I may, I would’ve thought that Nikki’s “pants” outfit would be a nice slightly dressy smart casual option? I can see it working well from desk-to-drinks and that style of pants is very versatile for both work and play. And gee whiz, $40! Great find, Nikki!

      1. Just went to the Crossroads website and these pants have now been reduced to $23.97. Score!
        Love the blue loafers!
        Ps. I bought the black and white country road kimono top yesterday, and it looks great! Thanks for the guidance. Xx

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