Following widespread pandemic-induced shutdowns, there’s no doubt that the past two years have likely changed how you view the world, how you work, and even your work wardrobe. After prolonged periods of working from home, I can tell you that most people likely feel one of two things when it comes to going back to the office—excitement or existential dread. But no matter what you feel about workspaces, you’ve probably begun to see parts of the globe reopen everything, including offices. This reopening means the return of one thing: the work wardrobe. While I personally detest sweatpants, I wholeheartedly know that dressing for a more formal workplace again can be stressful. It can feel like you’ve forgotten what’s considered “appropriate” and the easy work outfit ideas you used to rely on to get you there on time.
So in that vein, I’ve done a little personal research to determine what spring staples are must-shops for anyone returning to an office. Whether you’re only going in once a week or every day or just have more meetings out in the world, these 12 staple pieces will make dressing up again effortless and, dare I say, delightful.
Okay, hear me out on this. T-shirts work for the office. When you need an effortless work-appropriate ensemble on the fly, having a great T-shirt you can throw under a blazer will come in handy every time. But if you’re wondering how you can make this casual piece feel more formal, take note of the styling above. Pair it with trousers, heels, a great tailored coat, and layered jewelry, and you’ll look like an editor, even if that’s not the job title you hold.
Whether it’s casual Friday or you’re working from home, you don’t always need to be decked out in a full suit (unless that’s your prerogative). Having a great pair of jeans is a must. They’re polished enough for formal environments but cozy enough for you to crank out emails while wearing them. I recommend investing in dark-wash jeans (ideally with no low-rise hem or cutouts), as they’re the perfect bottoms to pull out for work.
Having a work-friendly coat on hand is always a great idea for colder spring days. But if you’re anything like me, you’re very over the concept of puffer coats and are ready to shed layers—enter the tailored coat. From classic oversize wool coats to trenches to leather coats, there are so many chic ways to add layers without detracting from your new spring aesthetic.
As fun as newer heel trends are (looking at you, platforms), having a versatile pair you can wear to the office is a must. But just because you can’t necessarily pull up to the office in some satin Versace platforms doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your footwear. My rule of thumb is to invest in trendier styles in neutral hues—e.g., architectural mules in black or strappy chain sandals in white. Basically, you want to buy heels that look basic and can be styled in various ways but are far from bland.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve personally been in a frenzy about what to wear to the office or a preview and ended up throwing on a cute blouse and midi skirt and calling it a day. When it comes to unsung wardrobe heroes, the midi skirt is the saving grace every time. You can find more modern iterations (like leather or pleated versions), or you can just get classic versions of it (simple cotton skirts or silk slip skirts). Whatever version you land on, this piece is one of the best you can invest in.
Yes, we’re finally shedding layers for spring, but that doesn’t mean you have to ditch your beloved knitwear quite yet. In fact, on a brisk spring day, I can’t think of a better, more work-appropriate piece of clothing to pull out of your closet. I recommend making your knitwear feel ready for spring by shopping for fun statement sweaters with cutouts and vibrant hues and styling them with unexpected pieces to give them a new life.
As much as I love a mini bag or any handbag trend that veers into the impractical realm, there’s nothing better than investing in a structured handbag for work. Whether it’s an oversize tote, a top-handle bag, or a shoulder bag, having a great work bag is half the battle of looking professional.
Confession: I love dresses more than any other piece of clothing on this list. Why do you ask? You don’t have to worry about whether your button-down blouse will fit your bust or whether you’ll have to tailor your trousers because you’re not that tall—dresses are effortless. A tailored dress has always been my secret weapon to looking stylish without actually trying too hard.
Having polished flats will be your saving grace for the days you can’t muster up the energy to perform in pumps. But unless you’re working in a more casual workplace, some forms of sneakers and open-toe shoes will be a no-go, so you’ll want to invest in a chic closed-toe option, and luckily, they’re very in style right now. From chunky loafers to ballerina flats, there’s a slew of stylish flat shoes that will make the perfect addition to your wardrobe.
Love it or hate it, trousers will always be an essential part of every work wardrobe. But if you want to give this staple a minor refresh this spring, I highly recommend opting for the more trend-forward versions of this style (think relaxed trousers, leather pants, and even slacks in saturated hues). Do that, and you’ll give this beloved staple a much-deserved promotion.
Button-down blouses will always have a special place in my heart (and my work wardrobe). You can pair this shirt with your oversize trousers on a weekday or your favorite miniskirt during the weekend. But if you’re still finding that the versatility of this staple isn’t selling you on it, let this serve as a reminder that the simplest way to spice up this piece is to pay attention to the details. Don’t be afraid to invest in a button-down in an oversize fit or a bright color or even one with interesting cutouts or tie details—it will make all the difference.
Call me cliché, but I don’t care. A blazer will always be that piece. It can be thrown over a dress or styled with jeans and a T-shirt, and it adds a level of formality to every possible ’fit. Investing in this staple for your spring work wardrobe is nonnegotiable. If you want to move past the basic little black blazer, don’t be afraid to buy a blazer with trend-forward elements like reworked tailoring or vibrant hues to give this beloved basic a 2022 update.