What to Wear to the Office | 23 Office Chic Work Outfits from 9 Separates

23 Ways to Wear - Minimalist Office Chic Wardrobe

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 concept

I’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:

23 Ways to Wear - Office Chic Minimalist Wardrobe
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:

23 Ways to Wear - Office Chic Minimalist Wardrobe
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.

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Total: 23 basic outfits. Not bad, eh?

23 Ways to Wear 9 Pieces - Office Chic Minimalist Wardrobe
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:

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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!



P.S. If you want some further inspiration on how to accessorise your office outfits to give them more personality, take a look at my for loads of outfit styling ideas!

Linking up to: Let It ShineAll Things ThursdayFriday’s Fab Favourites

I have written this post in collaboration with Hugo Boss at Harrods. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.


  1. 14 September 2015 / 11:51 am

    Love the Black bows on white shirts

  2. 3 April 2015 / 3:11 pm

    I am off on a major shopping expedition on Wednesday and this is really useful! Thank you so much!

  3. 30 March 2015 / 5:47 pm

    Fun post, but you must know there are 27 basic outfits? 3 tops * 3 bottoms * 3 outerwear = 27 outfits. 😉 New reader of your blog – your outfits are amazing!

  4. 24 September 2014 / 9:17 pm

    Thank you for this inspiring post. I'm going to take your grid with me when I go shopping tomorrow. As a total jeans&shirt girl, my new job is kind of scary because I'll need to dress up for important meetings. But I din't need a big buisness gardrobe because I can still wear my casual clothes for average office days – yay!

    • 24 September 2014 / 10:55 pm

      Thanks Lena, I'm glad it's helped! I honestly think the grid is a great idea – it stops you buying too much when you need to get things just for work! C x

  5. 27 July 2014 / 4:07 pm

    A great post. This is going to give you lots of visitors, time after time.
    For me it is too limited even though you successfully shown us how to work it. I need more variety. Luckily I have enough.

  6. 22 July 2014 / 2:52 am

    I don't have to "dress" for the office, dear Catherine…but I am still seriously impressed with this wardrobe "grid" of yours!! Just goes to show that you don't need to own a boutique (literally OR figuratively!) to be able to come up with a whole slew of chic, work-appropriate outfits!! (Not to say that most of us wouldn't WANT to own a boutique, though!! Wouldn't that be awesome?!)


  7. 21 July 2014 / 6:44 am

    Thanks for that tip, that you can wear everything with everything and look good and different everyday at the office! I'm wearing black, beige, cappuccino and grey, but coral is a great colour!
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  8. 20 July 2014 / 7:09 pm

    I can live with a quite small wardrobe, maybe because I'm still living out of a suitcase… I find that having lots of clothes is just confusing. And I try to simplify my life as much as possible. Obviously, some seasonal variation must be taken into account…

  9. 20 July 2014 / 3:41 am

    haha; I got lost in the arrows. I can't see how one can get 800 outfits from !

    • 20 July 2014 / 11:26 am

      I did the sum in the copy… I explained that it was 840, give or take…? Just underneath the accessories thumbnails 🙂

  10. 19 July 2014 / 11:26 pm

    Like Pam, I am fascinated by these small wardrobes, but always have to add more! : >

  11. 19 July 2014 / 8:50 pm

    I'm always intrigued with this concept, but never manage to pull it off!

  12. 19 July 2014 / 8:30 pm

    So funny! I did a similar post earlier this week! I even chose coral as the bright colour to liven up the neutrals in my choices too 🙂 Fab post! Lynne x

    • 20 July 2014 / 11:25 am

      Coral is ALWAYS a good choice, Dorothy – we obviously think alike! x

DISCLOSURE: Items marked* are PR products (I never accept anything I wouldn’t choose for myself) and my opinions are 100% honest. I also use affiliate links where I may earn commission if you click through and buy, at no cost to you.