he 2020s have been a fashionable era; we’ve gone through many phases, from Y2K to a mix of 50s and 80s. This has shone through in women’s fashion in the business world, too. 

Since the work-from-home situation began in 2020, the extent of a professional work outfit was a pair of pajama pants and fuzzy socks, and at most a nice top to wear for Zoom meetings. Now that the world is somewhat going back to normal, the time has come to get back in the office, and do it in style. Most of us have forgotten how to dress out in the world, especially since most jobs still either have a work from home option, or are hybrid. In fact, 59% of people who can complete their work remotely are still working from home most of the time. 

Of those people, 61% say they are doing so by choice. If you are part of the other group, or you’re entering the working world for the first time, it may take some getting used to. The post-pandemic look is going to be a bit different for everyone, and it will certainly be different than it did before COVID-19. You want to put something together that’s stylish, but also professional. In case you’ve forgotten how to dress in the office, here are some ideas to get your wardrobe started. 

How to Dress to Impress:

Closet Staples

Every working woman’s closet needs to have the essentials. Something that can be the base of a great fit. This can be everything from a good pair of dress pants to a white camisole. Basics don’t have to be neutral or boring, just something that you can depend on to look the part.

Some of the basics of a professional look include:

Dress pants

Pink dress pants.
You can’t go wrong with a good pair of pants. Image courtesy of New York Post.

A good pair of dress pants are a necessity. Ideally, you’ll have a few go-to choices to pair with any outfit. Think black, beige, and gray for a staple. Once you have your look figured out, play around with colors and styles. Pants can be fun to accessorize with, and there are so many different styles of dress pants to choose from. 

You can pick a pair up pretty much everywhere, Target, TJMaxx, H&M, even Amazon has a good selection. Take a look at the Hayden Taper Pant from Banana Republic. These are a classic look if you’re looking for something you can wear every day, and they can be paired with a variety of blouses and blazers. If you’re looking for something with a little more pizazz, check out some other styles such as the Loulou Wide-Leg Flannel Pant (which are on sale right now). 


A collage of white button down shirts.
When in doubt, wear the white blouse. Image courtesy of Observer.

You don’t necessarily have to have the typical white button down, just a professional blouse that you can pair with almost anything. The top doesn’t have to be as neutral as the bottom, and you want to feel good about what you’re wearing. Don’t be afraid to play with colors, patterns, and styles. 

Consider the Verona Shirt from Banana Republic. It’s a button-down, but has a little something extra in the sleeves, a silky feel, and comes in three colors. Pair this top with a pair of black or brown trousers, add some jewelry, a cute saddle bag, and you’re ready to hit the office. 

The Perfect Pantsuit

Three women wearing different colored pantsuits.
Pantsuits mean business. Image courtesy of Glamour. 

A pantsuit is a classic look that will always be in style. It’s always a good idea, and is guaranteed to make you look professional. If you get a matching suit, you can have fun without worrying about putting together the pieces. Throw some colors and patterns into the mix, and express yourself. The professional world isn’t like it used to be; we now have freedom to dress as we please, as long as it’s tasteful. Take these ASOS Design pink flare suit pants. Pair them with a pink blazer for a pop of color and a monochromatic look. Since it’s fall, don’t be afraid to layer. Start with your essential button-down or blouse, throw on your blazer, and an outer coat to match.

Another cute pairing would be some navy dress pants, such as the Siena Straight Wool Pant, paired with the Silky Classic Camisole, and a Navy Blazer.

You really can’t go wrong with a pantsuit. Putting these outfits together can be a lot of fun, too. Play around with what you like; colors, patterns, and styles. As long as you have a good pair of pants, you can even pair them with a cute sweater, and an overcoat if you need some extra warmth. 

The Right Shoes

A group of various beige and white heels.
As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Let’s talk about footwear. Depending on the season, you may have to adjust your needs. For the most part, a good pair of booties, heels, or loafers are a good starting point. You can’t go wrong with neutral colors, but if you’re feeling fun, pick up a fun color to match your pink pantsuit. For some inspo, check out these Block Heel Slingbacks with tortoise shell heels. These would be the perfect accessory for a simple look with black dress pants and a white blouse, or add a hint of brown to complement the tortoise shell. If you’re more of a loafer gal, check out the Flat Tassel Loafers. These can be paired with almost anything. If you’re trying out the bright-colored pink pantsuit look, try a white loafer to complement the bright color.  

Now, your show choice will depend on your trouser choice. If you’re going with a cropped pant, you might want to go with a loafer. If you’re going for a longer or wide-leg look, you could try boots. For the most part, heels will go with any pant style, as long as the colors compliment each other.


A grey purse on a table with a watch and a phone.
Accessories can take your fit from 80 to 100. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Okay, you’re looking great. You’ve got the pants, the blazer, the perfect blouse, and the shoes. Now, all you need is a good handbag and some jewelry. Jewelry is up to you. Whether it's a necklace, bracelet, or ring -- it doesn't matter if it's the ring your husband gave you or if it's a pre-owned engagement ring -- as long as it matches the other hardware you are wearing. As a general rule, you should stick to one color of metal, like silver, gold, or black between your outfit, jewelry, and purse. Once you’ve figured out which color complements your outfit, the rest is easy. 

As for bags, you don’t necessarily need to go out and spend money on a new purse. Do what your heart desires. This is just a guide to give you some inspiration. Again, neutrals are always a good idea, you can’t go wrong with a brown or black bag. If you’re wearing a neutral fit, you can either match the color of your clothes, or if you’re wearing something neutral enough, feel free to add a splash of color. 

We love practicality. Going back to work means you have to have all the things you’re used to being within reach at home. A nice big tote bag might be a good investment. Something to hold all your necessities, like: your laptop, your phone, your wallet, a snack bar, and hand sanitizer. For a bag that will fit everything you need, check out the Greta Work Tote. It comes in three colors, plus it’s sustainable and made with vegan leather from recycled plastic bottles.

If you don’t necessarily need to bring everything with you to the office, pick a cute handbag to fit just what you need. Check out the Vegan Saddle Bag by Quince.

Of course, professional fits can be put together on a budget. Thrift stores are always a good place to look, too, especially if you’re looking to be extra sustainable with your fashion choices. Dressing for success can be a fun way to express yourself and show your colleagues your personal style, while still being professional. Women in business, young adults or older, are a powerful force, and it’s important to dress the part. 

Oct 21, 2022