Back to Work Style & Wardrobe Essentials

As another year begins after a well-deserved Christmas break, January is the time most of us start to return to work. The time has come when we need to swap our relaxed linens, loungewear, and summer dresses for more tailored and professional clothing pieces, to suit our working environment.

But after years of ever-changing working conditions and many of us working from home, you may be in need of some ‘back-to-work’ outfit inspiration, to answer the burning “what to wear to work?” question.

This guide will make it easier to style office outfits from pieces already in your wardrobe or choose new items to purchase to create a workwear wardrobe for 2024.

Consider Your Work’s Dress Code

The first step is to know your work’s dress code. Does your workplace have a more formal dress code, requiring you to wear collared shirts, blazers, and pants or skirts? Or does your workplace have a more relaxed environment where you can wear prints, matching sets and sneakers?

Any workwear wardrobe needs to focus on comfort, functionality and versatility. You will need a mix of professional pieces that can be worn in a variety of settings and can even stretch from your workwear wardrobe to your weekend wardrobe.

Choose a Versatile Top As A Base

A women's top or shirt paired with pants or a skirt is a good base to start with, as these separate pieces can easily carry into your off-duty outfits. When styling a weekend outfit, take your work top and pair it with jeans and flat boots, or your work skirt and pair it with a tucked in t-shirt, leather jacket and sneakers.

The simplistically elegant button-down shirt is a true workwear staple. Every woman should have either a short or long-sleeve button down shirt that is well-fitting and not too sheer. This type of shirt can be seamlessly paired with either tailored pants or a pencil skirt for a more professional look or can be tucked into jeans and elevated with a blazer to suit a more casual workplace environment.

The Tuck Shirt in White is a great workwear wardrobe staple. A crisp white shirt is very versatile, providing you with endless styling opportunities to keep you looking chic and professional for the office and meetings. Pair with a print, a colourful jacket or knit to add visual interest to your professional outfit.

Cable Women's White Tailored Shirt

Layer Up In Style

During Summer and Autumn, a fun way to incorporate colour or prints into your wardrobe is to opt for a classic item, such as a blazer, that has more visual interest. Our Elton Check Blazer in Pink Check adds a subtle splash of colour with its light pink hues while keeping within a corporate motif with its work-inspired grey check pattern.

Cable Elton Check Women's Blazer

While grey, navy and white are classic colours that communicate professionalism, it’s key to have colourful layers to broaden the styling options your collection has to offer. To add a less subtle splash of colour when layering up, a lightweight knit jumper is the perfect transitional piece from summer to autumn work attire. Knit crew jumpers or cardigans add sophistication to any look and ensure that when you are leaving the office in the afternoon you are well-equipped for weather changes. A lightweight cotton cashmere crew jumper is the perfect choice to keep warm while elevating your look.

Cable Cotton Cashmere Jumper

Opt for a Long Skirt

In the warmer months, long skirts provide a breathable and comfortable option that allows for easy movement and airflow. The skirt’s length exudes modesty and professionalism, suitable for any office environment. They can be easily paired with a classic button-down shirt to create a confident and professional look. The
Crepe Knit Pleat Skirt combines elegance and comfort. The pleated A-line shape and elasticated waistband make it easy to move around and sit for long periods of time. The beautiful musk pink shade provides a warm feel to your look while adding an eye-catching touch to your ensemble.

Cable Pink Crepe Skirt

During the winter months, long skirts are a perfect layering piece to keep warm while maintaining a stylish appearance. Wear your skirt of choice with sheer tights to add an extra layer of insulation without sacrificing your style. Pair the skirt with a similar colour top, whether it's a matching women’s blouse or a sweater in a similar hue. This monochromatic approach creates a streamlined and sophisticated outfit that is perfect for the workplace.

Select Your Work Pants

For a comfortable yet office-appropriate jean, look no further than our Harper Drill Pant in Ecru. These stylish pants complete any professional look and go with a variety of tops, shirts and women’s knits. They can be worn year-round and will take you from the desk to dinner. Alternatively, if your workplace has a more formal dress code, choose pants that have a tailored fit such as the Tate Wide Leg Pant or Stockholm Cropped Pant.

Cable Women's Stockholm Pant

Build Your New Go-To Outfit

Do you tend to pick your outfits based on whether you have any client meetings on the day or work events later in the evening? If so, then having a dynamic work outfit will work towards your favour, helping you look sharp when you need to but feel comfortable throughout all your daily activities. To build a dynamic office outfit, we recommend having a more casual outfit as a base and bringing layers or accessories to add to your look during the day.

An example of this would be to start your day wearing smart separates such as a blouse and pants that are more on the casual side, and then when you have a client meeting you can put on the trusty blazer you brought with you to work rather than needing to wear that for the entire day to tie your look together. This can also be the case with accessories, in particular shoes. We suggest coming to work with a more relaxed pair of shoes such as sneakers and then changing into pumps for an important meeting or work event.

Prepare for Day-to-Night Dressing

For days when you have to transition from office to after-work drinks, opt for a chic midi dress paired with a tailored blazer. The midi length adds a touch of sophistication, while still being appropriate for the office, and the blazer completes the ensemble with a professional, cohesive look.

The Roberts Blouse and Skirt are made from a comfortable and breathable fabric. The wrap design adds a touch of elegance appropriate for the office while the dark brown colour can easily transition from day to night for drinks or socialising after work.

Finish Off With Accent Pieces

Once your ‘back to work’ wardrobe has its foundations and you’ve figured out what to wear to the office, start to add accessories like belts and jewellery. Balance your look with fun and eye-catching jewellery pieces if you are wearing a monochromatic outfit or choose dainty accessory pieces if your outfit has various colours or patterns.

With this guide you’ll build a workwear collection filled with essential pieces that are interchangeable and provide you with numerous outfit possibilities.

Browse our Workwear Edit and shop the latest office staples. For more outfit inspiration, check out Cable's Guide to Smart Casual.