I'm Revamping My 2024 Work Wardrobe—8 Items I'm Buying and 8 I'm Canceling

new work wardrobe essentials, a photo of a woman in a office outfit

(Image credit: @thecarolinelin)

Can I be real for a second? Choosing what to wear to work can be challenging, especially within the past few years as so many white-collar jobs became remote to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. With that massive shift, many became accustomed to working from home and not needing to invest in a work wardrobe. However, things seem to be changing again as more companies push for employees to return to the office. No matter how you feel about it, chances are you've come to the harsh realization that you have to begin commuting again, and more importantly, you have to go back to wearing real clothes. Even if you're the type of person who enjoys getting dressed up, you may have forgotten what it's like to navigate the dress codes for corporate environments, and you're not alone. 

Despite being a fashion editor, I regularly wonder, What workwear is appropriate for the new work reality? Sure, we all have a few basics in the back of our closets, but what items feel polished now? In an effort to find that answer, I scoured social media, runway collections, and various new-arrivals sections to identify eight items that lend themselves to becoming new work essentials alongside a few staples that might be worth giving a break from the daily grind. While you should always choose the items that work best for you, this list offers a great starting point for curating a closet that makes your morning work commute a bit calmer.

Hire: Structured Handbags

Furlough: Carryall Totes

a photo of a woman's work outfit with a structured handbag carried on the shoulder styled with a blazer, button-down, miniskirt, and ballet flats

(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

One of the worst things about adjusting to commuting again is realizing you're doing it without the correct type of bag. It's easy to grab an extra canvas tote hanging around the house, but for those unwilling to sacrifice fashion and functionality, a basic carryall won't cut it. Thankfully, there's currently no shortage of structured handbags on the market that are stylish enough for the workspace and spacious enough to fit all the essentials.

Hire: Formfitting Blazers

Furlough: Oversize Blazers

a photo of a woman's work outfit with a tailored black blazer layered over a white t-shirt with jeans

(Image credit: @styleidealist)

Don't come for me, but oversize blazers might be ready to go on a sabbatical. While I'd never recommend you part ways with staples you love, I've seen a new silhouette climb the ladder recently—formfitting blazers.  Unlike the boxy shape that's become synonymous with this staple, recent runway collections have centered formfitting blazers with nipped-in waistlines and tailored shoulders. The overall result is a sharper take on suiting. 

Hire: Wide-Leg Trousers

Furlough: Cigarette Pants

photo of woman’s work outfit with gray wide-leg trousers and matching gray vest and heels

(Image credit: @daniellejinadu)

For those of us who have been working at home for a while now, the prospect of putting on any form of pants, much less tight cigarette trousers, is not alluring. Luckily, there's another pant style that's worth investing in for any work wardrobe:  wide-leg trousers. This silhouette offers a more comfortable approach to office attire, allowing anyone to look and feel their best at work.

Hire: Kitten Heels

Furlough: Stilettos

a close up photo of woman's work outfit with black slingback kitten heels with black trousers and a white coat

(Image credit: @annabelrosendahl)

Although most white-collar jobs require you to spend the majority of your day at a desk, that doesn't mean that a pair of stilettos is the most pragmatic footwear. There's the issue of comfort, and for more conservative workspaces, the shoes might not be appropriate—enter kitten heels into the chat. Investing in a pair of closed-toe kitten heels will ensure that your feet and your HR department are both happy.

Hire: Pretty Blouses

Furlough: Simple Button-Downs

photo of woman’s work outfit with a draped brown blouse and matching trousers styled with bangles and tan Loewe bag

(Image credit: @oumaymaboumeshouli)

We all love a basic button-down shirt, but if you feel like your work wardrobe is boring, you'll want to switch things up. One way you can do just that is investing in pretty blouses. Look for tops with interesting details—e.g., built-in scarves, unique hardware, vibrant colors, and luxurious textiles—to inject a bit of excitement into your work ensembles.

Hire: Tailored Skirts

Furlough: Satin Skirts

a photo of a woman's work outfit with navy tailored skirt and white button-down and black slingback heels

(Image credit: @sylviemus_ )

Let me set the record straight. Satin skirts are a great staple, just not for formal work settings. Consider how many times you've turned to this silhouette only to realize it's too wrinkly or a bit too clingy around the hips. Rather than dealing with those potential problems, it's far easier to wear a tailored skirt in any form, such as pencil, full, and pleated skirts.

Hire: Ballet Flats

Furlough: Sneakers

a photo of a woman's work outfit with black ballet flats styled with a tan pencil skirt and white turtleneck

(Image credit: @lefevrediary )

For those who can't be bothered to wear heels, choosing the right flat footwear is nonnegotiable. Although some corporate environments are casual enough to get away with wearing a trendy pair of sneakers, you'll need a different option if you don't work in one of them. Enter ballet flats. This shoe style errs on the side of formality while still being fashion-forward enough to kick it with the rest of your wardrobe.

Hire: Modest Dresses

Furlough: Revealing Dresses

a photo of a woman's work outfit with a tailored green dress and black clutch bag and black boots

(Image credit: @amagodson_a)

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the work-friendly dress, one of the most important staples in a warm-weather wardrobe. It might seem obvious that you'd want to steer clear of risqué frocks when dressing for an office setting, but once temperatures rise, it can be easy to forget what you can get away with wearing to the office. When in doubt, it's best to reach for modest silhouettes made from lightweight materials to ensure you're dressed well for work and the weather.

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.