The only 10 pieces you need in a work capsule wardrobe this year
With a wide selection of women's workwear to choose from, getting dressed for the office can seem like a pretty daunting task. Throw in new smart-casual dress codes, unpredictable UK weather and hectic commutes, and you've got quite the challenge on your hands.
Which is why, if you haven't already, now is the perfect time to create a work capsule wardrobe. By curating an edited selection of workwear (that can all be worn together or as separates), you will save yourself precious time in the morning. Simply make sure you have a piece from each of our categories and you'll never have to mumble the dreaded words "I have nothing to wear" again.
The best women's workwear is super versatile and will transition across the seasons, so you don't have to worry about updating your office wardrobe every time the weather changes. Just stick to items that can easily be layered – you can make a midi skirt winter appropriate by layering it with an easy knit, wool coat and tights, or keep it breezy for summer with a crisp cotton shirt. What's more, women's workwear is no longer just reserved for the office – loads of these styles can be worn causally at the weekend with basic T-shirts and jeans, too.
Not sure where to begin? Luckily, we've done all the searching for you and selected the best women's workwear pieces to buy in 2023. From structured trousers to statement earrings, keep scrolling to see our top 10 picks.
1. The Smart Shirt
We couldn't talk about women's workwear without including a versatile white shirt. Crisp poplin styles look great with suiting, yes, but you can also tuck them into high-rise trousers or layer them under sleeveless work dresses. M&S' longline version offers a touch more coverage on the thighs and hips, if you you prefer trouser leggings to tailoring.
2. Tailored Trousers
A good pair of tailored trousers will make you feel instantly put-together – even when worn with everyday basics. Thankfully, the high street is full of options to suit every body shape: from pleated and wide-leg designs for bigger hips, to classic cigarette pants and culottes. To ensure you stay comfy all day at your desk we recommend opting for something with a hint of stretch.
3. The Everyday Shoe
With work dress policies more casual than ever, you'll be happy to hear trainers are now appropriate for the 9 to 5. To keep things smart, opt for a sneaker with a platform like Boden's sleek all-white pair or FitFlop's comfy slip-ons. Or choose transitional styles such as brogues or loafers – wear yours this summer with floaty midi skirts and pair them with chunky socks and cigarette pants come autumn.
4. The Versatile Blazer
Once reserved solely for workwear and formal occasions, the blazer is now an everyday wardrobe staple in 2023. So you can invest wisely knowing you'll easily get your cost per wear out of this tailored piece. While a black blazer is always a safe bet (we love Boden's fitted style), we've been enjoying Phase Eight's striped style and Everlane's playful take on the trend.
5. The Shirt Dress
Universally flattering, a work wardrobe wouldn't be complete without a classic shirt dress. With a looser silhouette (and detachable belt to define the waist), these styles are perfect for desk days when comfort is a priority. We love Cos' modern take on the trend with its flattering on-the-knee hemline, puffed shoulder details and pretty light-blue hue. What's more, it even has pockets.
6. The Elevated Knit
To be on the safe side, we recommend always having a jumper to hand at work. With the UK's unpredictable weather and powerful office air-conditioning, you never know when you might want to slip on an extra layer. Avoid anything too bulky and keep things elevated with cashmere cardigans, easy wrap styles and classic Breton knits.
7. The Flattering Midi Skirt
Although the pencil skirt has previously reigned supreme when it comes to women's workwear choices, a flattering midi skirt is a much more comfortable choice. And thanks to breezy, lightweight fabrications, this style is also far less likely to crease. We love the selection A-line shapes on offer this season – there's truly something for everybody; pleats over at M&S, belted linen versions at Mango, and Karen Millen's contemporary wrap style.
8. The Roomy Tote Bag
The best work bags are both sturdy and stylish. You'll need a style large enough to fit all your office essentials (laptops, notebooks, lunchbox, etc), but also comfy to carry during the commute. Check out Cambridge Satchel Company for heritage designs in an array of contemporary colours, or bag a bargain (excuse the pun) at Oliver Bonas – we love how this tote comes with a detachable zip purse to keep all your valuables secure.
9. The Tailored Coat
Sadly, a coat is always a workwear essential in the UK, no matter what time of year. But luckily, a tailored overcoat is a sure way to add some interest to a very basic office outfit. Choose something lightweight like & Other Stories' double-breasted trench or check out Aligne and H&M for 1960s-inspired looks in summery shades. Wanting something waterproof for the walk to work? Crafted with the brand's Stormwear technology, you can rely on M&S' car coat to keep you dry.
10. The Statement Earrings
Back in lockdown statement earrings became the go-to accessory, helping us all feel put together for video meetings and conference calls. Now, whether you're in the office or WFH, chunkier styles are a sure way to spruce up an outfit. Look to Royal-favourite Monica Vinader for elegant drop styles, Jigsaw for chunky gold hoops, or opt for an oversized drop style from M&S or Boden – these are crafted from lightweight resin, so are comfy enough to wear all day long.
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