It’s a constant struggle — you want to look stylish and put together, while working long, hard hours, all at the same time. You understand it’s up to your wardrobe to telegraph your power and competence to the world. However, you don’t have time each morning to worry about composing an entire outfit and questioning each piece as you go — Is this out of season? Is this work-appropriate? Do these pieces even go together at all?
Instead of playing the ever-stressful guessing game while you have sh*t to do, take a hint from menswear, countless fashion designers, and other power players of the world. Develop a uniform that can easily vary from week to week, and season to season. This process is far easier than it sounds: start with some versatile, high-quality pieces you can wear several ways, and can easily integrate into your existing wardrobe.
When building a work uniform, a classic, white, button down shirt is a must. Here are four ways to style this essential piece, accessorized with rented items to keep you looking put together, fashionable, comfortable, and confident.
Under A Blazer
There’s nothing more powerful looking than a bright, crisp blouse peeking out from a bold blazer. The clean lines and no-nonsense, distraction-free style will ensure you look professional, keeping the focus on who you are and what you’re saying, rather than what you’re wearing.
Armoire Stylist Tip: For an after-work engagement, swap your blazer for a cropped jacket (motorcycle jackets are a great choice for adding edge and an evening vibe), unbutton a button—or two—and pack a pair of heels to replace your daytime pumps or flats.
Styles by: Boden, Alice + Olivia , Cupcakes & Cashmere
With A Pencil Skirt
Try a button down tucked neatly into a pencil skirt for a look that’s polished, feminine, slightly body-conscious, but still wholly work-appropriate. Consider opting for one of this season’s bright, patterned, or richly textured skirts to offset the blank canvas of the shirt, and keep your shoes and jewelry relatively sleek and understated.
Armoire Stylist Tip: To parlay this look into the evening, pop up your collar, roll up your sleeves to 3/4 length, and toss a chubby faux fur or jean jacket over your shoulders. If you’re wearing thick, opaque tights, try swapping those out for sheer stockings, and switch to a pair of ankle boots.
Styles by: Boden, Rachel Roy, Nicole Miller
With Loose, Flowy Trousers
For a modern, and slightly artsy look, that will still project your competency and professionalism with its composed sense of coolness and ease, pair your staple white shirt with some silky, flowy pants. Make sure your pants are not too thin or shiny—you don’t want to look like you’ve wandered into a meeting in your pajamas. Try some flats with an interesting toe box or a pair of block heels.
Armoire Stylist Tip: For a great Happy Hour look, try an oversized cardigan (long and thin is ideal) or elongated blazer, and add some bold earrings.
Styles by: Alice + Olivia, Trina Turk, GRAVITAS
Under A Dress
The key to this look is to make sure that your shirt is slim enough it won’t bunch under your dress, and that the dress itself is a bit loose—just enough to accommodate a thin layer underneath. Fold a vertical pleat into the back of your shirt if it bunches so you won’t have to tug at your dress all day. Done right, this is a high fashion look that’s easy to pull off, comfortable, incredibly sharp, and perfect for a day at the office.
Armoire Stylist Tip: To freshen up your look for a charity or fundraising event, remove the shirt, pop on a bold necklace, lose your tights, and add some heels with cut-outs or an open toe; these read as evening shoes as opposed to a closed-off pump or sling-back.
Styles by: Eliza J, Brass, GRAVITAS
White Button Down