Finding appropriate workwear can be a challenge and even more so in the summer when humidity strikes. It seems that if you have functioning air-con, you’re in the (fortunate) minority. Aside from having the office temperature to consider, workwear tends to be a universal struggle, as with most formal dress codes, it can leave people feeling like there’s little room for creative expression.
You may attribute a workwear capsule to rigid collared shirts and structured blazers, but there’s so much fun to be had, especially since uniform basics have become chic, once more. Wear poplin shirts as an open layer and pay attention to materials, so your trousers boast a fluid silhouette, like the styles from The Row and The Frankie Shop.
Luckily, this season’s trends are in favour of tailored suiting and modest styles, so there are many options if you’re looking for inspiration for what to wear to work this summer. My favourite style this season is the tailored maxi, which effortlessly slots into a workwear capsule, with a shirt and mary-janes (another style in the spotlight).
You most probably have items in your current arsenal that you wouldn’t necessarily attribute to workwear but there are ways to make them work too. Although summer clothing is relaxed, you can wear natural fabrications and summer styles in the office with a few clever style tweaks.
Pair a cotton dress with a structured blazer and forgo heeled pumps in favour of ballet flats, or slip-on sandals if you’re allowed to push the boat out ever so slightly. Slip skirts that you’d usually reserve for the evening are a welcome addition, too. Then we have accessories – swap your leather tote for an oversized jute or basket bag, as an ode to the summer sun and you’ll instantly feel weather appropriate.
Keep on reading for our 6 summer workwear outfit ideas to inspire your office capsule. Many of which you can wear for work and leisure. There’s a style for everyone and every office dress code.
Tailored trousers + white shirt + heeled sandals
I’ll always champion perennial staples because you can squeeze so much wear out of them. You will likely have all of these individual components in your wardrobe, which makes this look even more inspiring. Pair sweeping trousers with an open shirt and tank top underneath to invite the summer breeze. Why not add a jute bag? The seasons have spoken and it’s well and truly basket bag time.
Slip skirt + oversized blazer + ballet flats
Nina’s outfit is a classic look that can transcend all seasons and many dress codes. A silk slip skirt always has a polished appeal. Paired with a blazer, it instantly becomes workwear appropriate. Team this look with ballet flats for ease of wear and pop on heeled sandals if you’re venturing out after work.
Shirred sundress + sandals
Fellow Eliza columnist Chloe has an enviable summer wardrobe and shows how elongated styles can work on petite frames. If you’re fortunate enough to work somewhere with a smart casual dress code (with emphasis on the casual), you can integrate summer dresses into your workwear wardrobe. Pair a smock dress with an oversized blazer, slip-ons and a basket bag to tie the look together. The black bag lends a polished feel and makes it appear more formal compared to if it was a beige colourway. If you need a touch more formality, add an oversized blazer.
White shirt + tailored maxi skirt
Vanessa was well ahead of the fashion forecast having posted this chic look before the resurgence of extended lengths and tailored skirting. Add a slim-fit white shirt, oversized bag (of which there are plenty this season) and thong sandals and you have an instant Parisian-inspired look with a modern twist. I’ve also added those designer-esque earrings because how can I not?
Tailored waistcoat + trousers look
Queen of minimalist dressing and avid thrifter, Téjal is a dab hand at office dressing. Note the layered outerwear which instantly adds a convertible element. Although she finishes her look with classic ballerina pumps, I can’t help but think this will look equally suave with tabi-style shoes. After all, the past seasons have shown us that quirky flats are here to stay. Layer contrast suiting with a lightweight trench coat for your trip to the office and wear it sans trench in the office. Last year, the tailored waistcoat took the fashion world by storm, but it’s relevant to date, as the high street and high-end designers continue to produce iterations.
Shirt dress co-ord + bold jewels
Danielle demonstrates the appeal of a relaxed tailored co-ord and I can’t help but applaud her subtle style elements. The pinstripe is usually attributed to blazers and typical workwear, whereas this is a modern take. Although this style is available as a two-piece, you can wear the shirt dress alone or over a pair of black trousers. It’s made primarily from Ecovero and linen, which both have lightweight and sustainable characteristics. This pared-back look calls for glimmer, so add exaggerated jewels to complete the look. These designer-inspired sandals come around like clockwork every spring, so rest assured they’ll stand the test of time.