Are you finding what to wear to the office difficult? Can you really make 23 office chic work outfits with only nine separates? Yes - and I'll show you how by using a small collection of minimalist pieces, adding some gorgeous accessories and a little creativity. In fact I'm going to stick my neck out and say I reckon there's over 800 combinations here.
You read that right - EIGHT HUNDRED COMBINATIONS. Read on and I'll explain!
Almost two years ago I wrote (what became) a very popular post entitled 10 Ways to Wear: Work Outfits (Office Chic on a Budget): I featured my own clothes for what I'd wear if I had a job in a creative office environment, with some pattern mixing and bright colours. I do know, however, that not everyone can wear loud prints or bright colour mixes to work, especially if they have a corporate office job. Using minimalist pieces from the Hugo Boss women clothing collection from Harrods, my method shows how a few simple separates can be worked and reworked to create an almost limitless office chic wardrobe.
The minimalist office wardrobe conceptI've chosen three tops, three bottoms and three pieces of quality outerwear. Neutrals in black, white and grey are always classic combinations, but they can be a little dull on their own. By investing in smart, timeless neutrals you will get your money's worth ten times over, especially if you use this method of mixing and matching. A couple of brights that coordinate beautifully with the neutrals are a must - go for two colours that really complement both your colouring and each other (you're creating a complete colour palette, so this is where accessories will work in later). The nine pieces are shown here arranged in a grid so that each row across and down has a basic combination of top, bottom and outerwear:
As you can probably tell there are many ways to mix and match the pieces - you can choose rows across and down, as well as mixing up the rows as shown below:
You have three rows across and three down, and one diagonal option. There are also eight other ways to mix them (as shown by the arrows below) - this totals 15 basic outfits. You can go on and see that you could choose two from the bottom row (white trousers, coral top) and an outerwear piece from the top row (black cardigan) and so on - there are actually another eight outfits to create by choosing two from an outside row or column and one from its opposite in the same way.
Total: 23 basic outfits. Not bad, eh?
I mentioned before that the colour palette you've created helps you easily identify what colour accessories go with your basic office wardrobe.
The way to add more personality is with great shoes and some fabulous scarves, brooches or necklaces. Here's some ideas to funk up your outfit yet remain appropriately office chic; all these items complement the blue and coral (and neutrals, of course) in my Hugo Boss work wardrobe:
You're probably still wondering how I came up with the 800+ figure, right?
Well, I've given you six* pairs of shoes that would all work with the chosen pieces, and six* accessories. If you have 23 basic outfits, then wearing six different pairs of shoes gives you 138 outfits. And those 138 outfits can then each be paired with the six different accessories, so 138 x 6 = 828. Granted, not every single accessory will work with every basic outfit (the collar with pearls won't work on a shirt that already has collars, for example, but you wouldn't want to wear a jacket or cardigan with every look either) - it's a ballpark figure.
*Since writing this post I have updated the shoes and accessories as most of the original pieces were no longer available. I couldn't stop at just six of each as there were so many I loved ;)
But 800+ potential outfits from nine separates is pretty good going.
It proves that dressing for a corporate office needn't be boring or stuffy; yes, you have to look groomed and very smart, but there's still room for adding personality. I'd never accept any excuse for a "boring white blouse and black skirt" - this is why shoes and accessories are your friend!
Be inventive, be creative, and above all, take pride in what you wear - even to work. I always, always dressed up when I had an office job - now I look back I'm so glad I did.
Do you work in an office, and how do you dress for your job? Do you have a very separate wardrobe for work to your wardrobe for weekends, and what tips do you have for injecting personality into your outfits - let me know in the comments!
Linking up to: Let It Shine, All Things Thursday, Friday's Fab Favourites