It’s show time: you’re back in the office and you need to raise your game. Build yourself a capsule wardrobe with these chic staples.
1. The grown-up boilersuit
Nothing makes bleary-eyed winter morning outfit selection easier than a one-step dressing solution, and this season sophisticated iterations of the boilersuit are on hand to afford you that extra 15 minutes hitting snooze. Cefinn’s new Jensen jumpsuit (£370, cefinn.com) is made from an innovative and super practical Techni Linen, which looks like its namesake but affords minimal creasing, while The Fold’s Sutri jumpsuit (£245, thefoldlonodon.com) delivers stretchy silk jersey formal enough for the boardroom. For more casual offices, Whistles and The Finery have long-sleeved utilitarian cotton zip-through numbers that’ll simulate the comfort of your beloved loungewear.
2. Slack attack
If you purchase one pair of trousers this autumn, make it a pair of loose-fit, pleat-front chinos, which work with everything from a colourful chunky knit and stomper boots, to a silk shirt and kitten heels. Jigsaw do a great pleat-front pair in soft linen tencel (£99, jigsaw-online.com), and a cargo-inspired cotton pair (£120, jigsaw-online.com) that look excellent paired with a white shirt and a leather blazer; while Essentiel Antwerp does flattering wide-leg, pleat-front slacks (£190, essential-antwerp.com) that come in Dark blue, camel and maroon.
3. Dress it up
When hunting for work-appropriate dresses, you can’t go too far wrong with something long-sleeved and shin length, and Kitri’s frill-collared, puff-sleeved black floral Lori shirt dress (£165, Kitri.com), is gorgeously feminine-but-firmly-formal place to start. LK Bennett, Hobbs and The Fold all major in corporate but super chic sleeved midis. Other frontrunners are Boden’s wonderfully versatile Ellen tiered corduroy shirt dress (£130, boden.com), that comes in shades of rust, sage and navy; and Massimo Dutti’s belted check dress (£119, massimodutti.com), both of which pair well with knee-high boots or pointy flats and a blazer.
4. Elegantly waisted
You probably haven’t worn a waistcoat since the Kate Moss for Topshop days, but for autumn ‘21 the button-up is back and it’s an easy way to bring a little zing to your working wardrobe. Seen on the runways at Fendi, Chanel and Michael Kors, a sleek tailored waistcoat looks brilliant worn buttoned-up under blazers and trenches, or styled a la 90s Moss over billowing dresses and shirts. Mango stocks myriad affordable options, LK Bennet has an excellent pinstripe number (£199, lkbennett.com) and Bella Freud does a pale pink corduroy waistcoat (£325, matchesfashion.com) that has matching cord flares, should you need a promotion-inspiring power look.
5. Heeled loafing
I take last year’s Penny loafer and raise you Penny’s altogether prim and prissier school prefect of an older sister, the block-heeled loafer, which is set to clip clop its way into our wardrobes this winter. Oozing an uber-preppy Hamptons-meets-boarding-school appeal, the heeled loafer looks great paired with white ankle socks and skirt suits or cropped jeans, or with midi skirts and coloured tights for a delightfully Seventies feel. Prada, Gucci, Miu Miu and Loewe have payday temptations, but Russell & Bromley’s chain-trimmed Blockchain style (£235, ruyssellandbromley.co.uk), which comes in black and ivory, ticks all the teacher’s pet boxes.
6. Totes sculptural
Whether you’re a diligent packed lunch-maker, a tablet-watching train commuter or someone who doesn’t go anywhere without their makeup bag, a capacious handbag is a must for most office-goers. But rather than reach for a boring briefcase or a scruffy backpack or tote, why not invest some sculptural arm candy this autumn? Independent labels like Usisi Sister, Little Lifner, Neous and C. Nichol all stock large leather totes with unusual, sculpted silhouettes; reminding us big needn’t mean boring.