Not so long ago, I made the jump from working in a casual retail store to an office space. After wearing whatever I felt like for most of my working life, I had to ditch the shorts and open-collar shirts for a smarter get up that still allowed me to feel like, well, me. It was weird at first, but I soon worked out that office wear needn’t be boring.Of course, different offices will have different standards, but introducing alternative fabrics and fits into your work wardrobe can bring something really different to your daily dress. So, if you’re making the transition like I did or you’re an office veteran looking for some inspiration, we’ve put together this guide to office wear essentials to get you started.
Arpenteur Service Pant, on sale for £175 (~$225) at Kafka.
Since they make up more than half your outfit, pants are important. Opting for a fabric with more texture like wool or twill is an easy way to inject a bit of character into your work wardrobe while maintaining some formality. Corduroy can also look extremely suave if paired with the right pieces. Experiment with fits and find what works for you, making sure you have the right shoes to fit the bill, too.
Japan Blue 10oz. Covert Twill Work Trouser, $114 at Denimio.
Unmarked Uniform Derby Shoes, $270 at Unmarked.
Investing in a decent pair of welted shoes or boots will crank your office wardrobe up a notch while complying with your overlord’s dress code. Whether it’s a clean cut derby, a sleek service boot, or a pair of loafers, a pair of well-made shoes can act as a key building block to your outfits and help keep things simple and refined. Spending a bit more for a welted pair of shoes or boots will also mean you can have them resoled when needed.
Viberg Service Boot in Brown Chromexcel, $670 at Viberg.
Paraboot Chambord, $425 at Drake’s.
Beams Plus 3B Harris Tweed Jacket, available for $633 from End Clothing.
Most offices don’t demand a ‘suit jacket’ as much these days. However, a decent jacket can be a statement piece that you can dress up or down. Worn over a shirt or knit, a sport coat will always look boss, and you can experiment with twills, tweeds, and even knitted wool jackets for some extra texture. Chest pockets also facilitate the addition of a pocket square.
Epaulet Sinclair Sportcoat, $245 at Epaulet.
Brooklyn Tailors Japan Fox Flannel Chalk Stripe Jacket, $465 at Brooklyn Tailors.
Kamakura Vintage Ivy Shirt, available for $99 from Kamakura Shirts.
Probably the first item we all reach for when piecing together a more formal getup, the humble oxford shirt is a powerful wardrobe staple and true office wear essential. Having a selection of decent oxfords that can be paired with a variety of pants and jackets will lay a solid foundation for your office wardrobe.
Gitman White Oxford, $165 at Gitman.
Ties, Bow Ties, and Pocket Squares
Kiriko Made Tie Kasuri -Ori, available for $89 from Kiriko.
A tie or pocket square can define an entire outfit. These accessories are especially useful if you work in a super smart office as they can be an understated way of expressing yourself without compromising formality. My grandfather often wears a Pink Panther tie to very important events, but you should probably feel things out at your office before you go wild.
The Hill-Side Indigo Chambray Bow-Tie, $60 at The Hill-Side.
The Hill-Side Indigo Ombre Plaid Pocket Square, $30 at The Hill-Side.
Field Notes Desk Kit, available at Field Notes for $164.95.
Don’t just live off those disposable office stock notepads and pens. Compile an inventory of quality stationery that you feel proud to own and use. Nice pens and pads can make note-taking more enjoyable, and a hardback decent planner is a much nicer way to keep yourself organized than a smartphone calendar.
Leuchtturm1917 Daily Planner A4, $29.75 at Amazon.
Hightide / Penco 4 Color Ballpoint Pen, $16 at Goodhood.
Master-piece Surpass Rolltop Bag, available for $319 at End.
Organization is a part any office and having a good quality bag to keep your stuff in order is key. Be sure to consider your commute to work when choosing your bag, as things like suitability for cycling, potential rainfall, and packed subway trains may dictate which bag is best for you. You can combat the elements with features like wax coatings.
Winter Session Garrison Waxed Canvas Carryall, $279 at Winter Session.