Having recently graduated from college, and even more recently having acquired an office job, I'm still adjusting to life post-everything-I-once-knew-to-be-true. So while I'm finally learning how to do my own laundry (tedious), and unclog my shower drain (gross), figuring out what constitutes work appropriate clothing might be the one thing I'll always have difficulty adjusting to.
Pre-graduation, my closet was predominantly filled with striped T-shirts, lived-in leggings, and ripped skinny jeans (aka a less than perfect work wardrobe). While my trendy blouse with holes in it was a hit on my college campus, I knew it wasn't going to fly in a work environment where collars (gasp!) and longer hems (double gasp!) were required. There were only two solutions to my dilemma: 1. Throw away everything I own and borrow pant suit inspiration from Hillary Clinton. 2. Adjust the pieces already in my wardrobe to somehow make them work appropriate.
I chose the latter, because while I adore Clinton's colorful, chic pant suits, I simply don't have the time or budget to create a brand new wardrobe from scratch. Plus, I was convinced there was a way to work some of my favorite, trendy, back-from-college closet pieces into something professional yet chic. Here are nine seemingly work-inappropriate clothing items styled to work in a more traditional office setting.
1. Beach Cover Up
Let's start with a double whammy, shall we? No, it's not summer. And no, your typical beach cover-up wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for work to begin with. But this version caught my eye because of its pretty draping and long, dress-like silhouette.
It was baggy and quite revealing (as you can see from the open chest), but I figured I would give it a go and pair it with a formal skirt. Tucked in and layered on top of a basic black cami, the cover-up looked chic and totes appropriate for a day at work.
Typically anything that has sequins or sparkles on it is off limits for work. No one wants to cause a ruckus as a disco ball in their cubicle, but there are some shimmers and sparkles that can totally pass as professional. Thus is the story of my shiny blue pants.
They're long, neatly hemmed, and an eye-catching shimmery blue hue. While I would normally love to play them up with other bright colors, I thought it best to add a basic, black, long sleeve, V-neck T-shirt. This way, the pants still speak for themselves but aren't making too much of a statement (or creating a disco ball effect).
Depending on your workplace, leggings may be off limits no matter what. If you work somewhere with a slightly more casual dress code, the trick is in getting a pair that is a little more formal, whether that means leather or chic panel details. Of course, you'll also want to make sure your top covers your derriere since a professional setting is usually not the place to show off your assets.
I paired my leather-like, sleek leggings with an oversized cashmere sweater. The sweater covered up my butt just enough for me to feel comfortable and appropriate for work and played off well against the black leggings. Feel free to pair this ensemble with a blazer or even a more formal button-down shirt depending on your dress code.
4. A Sheer Blouse
Unless you're Kim Kardashian, sheer clothes are usually best saved for nights out, parties, and maybe even date night. I don't play by so-called fashion rules, though, so I made my sheer shirt a perfect addition to my work wardrobe.
By pairing my printed sheer blouse over a basic black cami and with black trousers, the blouse stands out for its bright color and cool design rather than its see-through qualities. The trick is to pair sheer blouses with a cami to subdue the fact that your shirt is transparent.
5. Destroyed Denim
My workplace is actually somewhat casual, so denim is definitely an option on a day-to-day basis. Going back to my college days, these slightly destroyed jeans are my absolute favorite. I wasn't about to give them up just because I got a job.
I paired my ripped white jeans with a formal, collared button-down blouse. Half-tucked, half-not-tucked, I then layered a quilted bomber jacket on top and finished off the look with black booties. The jeans are ripped, yes, but not to the point where they're inappropriate for a professional setting. Word of advice: Keep your destroyed denim subtle. If your jeans are revealing more than 25 percent of your legs, they're probably best left at home.
6. A Graphic T-Shirt
For me, T-shirts are the language of love. Sadly, however, they are hardly workplace-appropriate. While I would advise you to keep your T-shirts that are especially gaudy or OTT at home (think ones with curse words, ill jokes, or ugly logos), it's your fun and cute tees that can get some wear at the office.
I combined this CELFIE T-shirt with a pair of black trousers, a silver, embellished blazer, and a pair of flat black booties. The look is casual enough to feel comfortable, but still formal thanks to the blazer and the trousers. You can also pair a T-shirt with a skirt or tucked into more tailored jeans to give off a similarly chic but work-y look.
7. A Crop Top
When it comes to crop tops, they come with the understanding that they're meant to show some skin. And let's be real: When it comes to a traditional workplace wardrobe, showing skin is still frowned upon. Underneath a fitted skirt with a belt, however, you can keep that crop top in use.
I paired my metallic gold crop top with a long, black midi skirt. The skirt is just long and tall enough to be able to tuck my crop top into it. The belt adds an extra touch to pull the look together and ensure the crop top won't pop out of the skirt if I lean the wrong way. Paired with some heels and a blazer or cardigan, this ensemble is a no brainer for a more formal office environment.
8. Bodycon Dress
Worn with baggy yet tailored pieces from your mom's '90s wardrobe, bodycons totally work for work. I wore this oversized jacket and cinched it at the waist with a belt in combination with my bodycon dress. This way the dress wasn't too revealing or tight, but its silhouette was still quite pretty. I also wore tights to give the ensemble a little more security. As we all know, bodycon clothes love defying gravity and often trail upwards.
9. Mini Skirt
Mini skirts are often risky territory since anything can happen when you're wearing them (bend over and beware). But the trick is to outsmart them with key pieces for a work environment. With items like turtlenecks and over-the-knee boots, you can wear your minis wherever you so choose. Throw on a long coat or a pair of opaque tights to make this look especially secure.
And that, my friends, is how you kill the workplace style game.
Images: Melodi Erdogan