Corporate Dress Codes Can Be Cracked With These Workwear Essentials

Workwear is usually considered a practical and essential “grown-up” purchase (just like mattresses, kitchen knives and insurance). Granted, there are a million other things you’d rather spend your hard-earned money on, but like the aforementioned mattress, you get a lot of use out of the clothes designed to see you through the workweek.

That said, it’s easy to want to scrimp on daily essentials. However, a brilliantly cut pair of trousers or a tailored jacket have the power to boost your mood and in turn, your performance at work. Acquire a few key staples from the experts, take good care of them and you won’t have to replace a threadbare blazer after just a few months.

We’re lucky that in 2018, there are so many homegrown brands with a passion to create appealing pieces for working women. Consider this your handy guide to where to call if you need a new shirt, suit or bag. Scroll through the gallery below for the no-nonsense workwear directory.

For the Best Trousers: Cefinn

Find a pair of trousers that you love (and that love you back), and dressing becomes a pleasure. Samantha Cameron describes her label, Cefinn, as one that offers a “hard-working urban uniform.” Whether you’re a wide-leg follower or a tapered-leg believer, Cefinn’s trousers are meticulously pored over from design to production to ensure the happiest of legs.

For 18-Hour Blouses: Baukjen

Designed by women for women using premium fabrics, Baukjen’s tops are some of the most flattering out there. And certain styles, such as this best seller, will see you from wake-up to wine-fulled wind-down effortlessly. 

For Directional Accessories: Charles + Keith

If you don’t want to see your bag toted by half a dozen others on your morning commute, bookmark Charles & Keith. This Singapore-based brand is brilliant for bags that nod subtly to trends and possess those all-important details but at reasonable prices. 

For Covetable Coats: Hobbs

This high-street brand has been delivering the most reliable outerwear for as long as we can remember. Whether you’re after a versatile trench, a punchy-hued overcoat or something with a little extra design detail, Hobbs will have your back.

For Simple Dresses: ME + EM

Need a simple but well-made dress that can be jazzed up or down with jewellery, and work with those commuting trainers as well as heels? The search ends with British success story Me + Em. 

For Smart Separates: Libby London

Founder Libby Hart worked in investment banking before setting up her label from scratch, so dressing for a professional setting is something she knows firsthand. Hart excels in creating versatile dresses, but her skirts and coordinating tops are Monday-to-Friday saviours. The sets are understated enough to be mixed and matched with everything else in your work wardrobe (blouses, trousers—you name it), and every piece is beautifully assembled in London.

For Inspired Shirting: COS

Fact: You can never own too many shirts. But to keep them looking a little different, head to COS. Every month, the retailer puts a new spin on a classic. 

For the Sharpest Suits: Rose & Willard

This London label operates with a conscience—one that’s mindful of sustainability, diversity and equal pay. Its designs are engineered to last years (not seasons), so its suits are a savvy investment. You’ll be hard-pressed to pick just one jacket style (choose from tuxedo, drape, single-breasted, cropped, collarless or tailored), but whichever you choose, you won’t regret it.

For Office-Worthy Jumpsuits: Warehouse

We love Warehouse. Affordable, fun and always chic, its jumpsuits game is strong. Choice is plentiful, and we’ve spied plenty of more conservative styles you could rock from Monday to Friday. 

For Hold-Everything Bags: Karen Millen

Another British high-street label you could pluck your entire work wardrobe from is Karen Millen. We love its super-practical, supremely covetable bags, which have been designed with the office in mind. The brand’s bags feature discreet logos, oodles of pockets and quality leather—nailing all our requirements.

For Luxe Tops: Reiss

Everyone needs an arsenal of chic but hardworking tops—the sort of pieces that exude a quiet elegance. Enter Reiss, the British success story that has a mighty offering of professional tops. From satin button-down blouses to silky V-neck wrap tops, there’s something for everyone.

For Dependable Shoes: L.K.Bennett

Mid-heel courts in dark pink, suede kitten heels in mint-leaf green, jacquard slingbacks… The choices at L.K.Bennett are dazzling. And like designer brands that cost three times as much, they nearly always offer half sizes. So regardless of what shoes you choose, you can be confident that this label will have you looking arrestingly chic.

For Luxe Dresses: The Fold

If the Duchess of Cambridge deems The Fold’s frocks to be worthy enough to wear for a public appearance, they’re good enough for us. The Fold’s dresses are loved by the city set for the brand’s premium fabrics and smart cuts. This piece is a savvy investment you can easily take from the office to dinner.

Opening Image: @handinfire

Next, discover the outfit we’ll all be copying this spring.

For Cheap But Cheerful Jewellery: Mango

The secret’s out on Mango’s brilliant, pocket money–priced jewellery. Use it to transform tired-looking outfit combinations. 

For Outfit-Topping Tailoring: Arket

That one piece you grab from the back of you chair when you need to look pulled together in a second? Head to Arket. We’re currently coveting this sleeveless tux-inspired jacket made from a fine Italian wool.

Opening Image: @handinfire

Next, discover the outfit we’ll all be copying this spring.