With summer in full swing, it’s the season of jobs for us collegiates – whether that’s a big girl job (#adulting) or a nannying gig with a local family or anything in between, one of the biggest struggles is figuring out what to wear. I know when I got my job offer for my internship this summer, I was totally clueless as to what to wear on my first day. My mom and I went shopping literally hours after I got the phone call, and what do you know – I ended up buying way too many clothes that were way too formal for my office requires. I showed up the first day looking and feeling great, but I kid you not, literally every girl in my office made it a point to tell me jeans were A-OK for the next day. I was SO confused – having grown up with an attorney for a mother who wore pantsuits literally every day to the office, I had never heard of such a thing. Jeans? In the office? My natural next move was to do some scoping on Pinterest – but even that failed me. All of the outfit ideas I found were SO impractical, and honestly, most of them were not even that cute. After some serious online shopping, I eventually figured out the do’s and don’ts of what to wear in my office. So, here it is ladies! A comprehensive guide to office style at every budget – look good, feel good, and absolutely rock it at work this summer.
What it is: A well-tailored pantsuit or skirt suit, closed-toe shoes, conservative blouses that show little to no skin, and sometimes tights/hose.
For the Ballin Babe: Theory
A Theory suit is the kind of suit you see on your top-level executive #GirlBoss, and it has the price tag to match. A full suit can run you upwards of $1,000, but these babies are soo worth it. While a Theory suit might be the type of thing to save for your next big promotion, definitely keep these beauties on your radar.
For the Budget Babe: Banana Republic
You. Guys. Banana Republic’s Skinny Sloan pants is my absolute favorite piece of work wear I have ever bought.
Like, if you take one thing from this article, it should be to go out and buy a pair of these puppies ASAP. They’re by far the most flattering and stylish work-appropriate pants I’ve ever found, and I seriously think you’ll love them, too. Banana Republic won’t run you quite as steep as Theory, with pants running at around $100/pair and blazers at around $200. BR is a great middle ground to get your professional wardrobe started.
For the Beginner Babe: H&M
Ladies, I’m sure we all know and love H&M already, BUT did you know that they carry an awesome line of women’s suits?
Like, so awesome that my pantsuit snob mother was even impressed by them. (Trust me, that’s a win!) Personally, I have a leather-tipped blazer from H&M that I totally love, but my field is a little more relaxed, and I can get away with that sort of thing. However, they have awesome options for more conservative professions, as well! With pants running around $40/pair and blazers around $50, these prices for this quality just can’t be beat.
What it is: Slacks or skirts with a conservative long or short sleeve top, open toed shoes usually appropriate. Dresses and skirts don’t have to be as long as when adhering to a professional dress code, but you should be able to comfortably sit in public without giving the office a mid-morning show.
For the Ballin’ Babe: Saks Fifth Avenue
Ahhh, Saks. I love to love you, and you love to hurt my wallet. I’ve found that when most department stores are stocking their “workwear” section, they tend to lean more towards a business casual dress code – and Saks is a great example of this. Prices tend to run all over the place, but definitely lean toward the higher side. If you’re looking for high quality pieces to round out your work wardrobe, Saks could definitely be your place.
For the Budget Babe: Ann Taylor
I know what you’re thinking. “Umm, you said I didn’t have to look like my mom at work this summer.” Hear me out ladies! I was super reluctant to check out Ann Tayor when I went shopping with my mom at the beginning of the summer, too, but I actually found a ton of great tops that get me so many compliments at the office. Ann Taylor will run you about the same as Banana Republic, at about $100/pair of pants, and $60/blouse. Definitely a staple store in my workwear wardrobe from now on. Don’t knock it ’till you try it!
For the Beginning Babe: Halogen
Nordstrom’s line of “Work to Weekend Wear” is something you’ve probably seen through your countless hours of perusing their site for cute closet additions. (Just me spending that much time on their website? Oh.) Another total staple in my closet, I sometimes even buy this stuff for legitimate weekend wear. It really doesn’t get much cuter than this for business casual. They have a great selection of work-appropriate tops, which will run you around $40/piece.
Smart Casual/Country Club Casual
What it is: Smart Casual can mean many different things, and have many different standards depending on your individual workplace – for example, in some offices, dark wash dressy jeans might be completely appropriate, while in others, they might be completely off-limits. This is definitely a dress code where it might help to talk to your co-workers or whoever you’ve been in contact with about what can fly and what can’t in your office. In general, think floaty skirts, cute tops, and semi-dressy shoes.
For the Ballin’ Babe: Club Monaco
Kind of like a more boho J.Crew at a slightly elevated price point, Club Monaco’s pricing is definitely swingable, but maybe not for an entire wardrobe. Skirts will generally run you around $150, with tops in the same price range. A little hefty for a beginning girl boss, but definitely a must-check if you’ve been in the game for a while.
For the Budget Babe: Asos
Another website we’ve probably all heard of, ASOS, can deliver on more than just the weekend front – with a huge selection of blouses, skirts, dresses, shoes, you name it – ASOS
honestly has something for everyone at every price point. Personally, I think the mid-range selections on ASOS are better because they’re not obscenely expensive while still being high quality. Sleuth around a little and look through the tons of options they have. There’s bound to be something for everyone!
For the Beginner Babe: J.Crew Factory
A more budget-friendly version of the iconic label J.Crew, J.Crew Factory will have you looking chic, professional and SO summery on the cheap. You can score all kinds of goodies at discounted prices that are easy on any wallet.
What it is: If you’re lucky enough to have a casual dress code this summer, you’re lucky enough. A true casual dress code includes jeans (non-ripped, of course), tee-shirts, casual tops, and casual shoes. I’m #blessed enough to be rocking this dress code this summer, and I’m super grateful for it. Be sure to look clean and polished with this dress code
still, but don’t be afraid to break out those cute new Tory sandals you got for Christmas 😉
For the Ballin’ Babe: Bella Dahl
Probably my favorite clothing line ever, Bella Dahl offers relaxed pieces that can still look cute and polished in an office setting. If I had the funds, I would probably own literally everything that this brand puts out – and that’s not an exaggeration. Tops run around $100/piece, and dresses around $150. A couple of items won’t break the bank, but to stock your entire wardrobe might be a little pricey. I would 10/10 recommend this brand though – so comfy, SO cute, and somehow still appropriate for the workplace. Win, win, win!
For the Budget Babe: Madewell
The ultimate jeans and tee store. Honestly, I don’t need to say much more than that – but I will. Madewell is the QUEEN of basics, and has so much classy casual work attire to offer – tailored tees, neat jeans, and super cute accessories to have you looking your casual best in the office. Tees run about $40-$50/piece, and jeans will be on the pricier side at around $150/pair.
For the Beginning Babe: Missguided
What can I say about MissGuided other than two, big fat words that we all LOVE to hear: STUDENT DISCOUNT. That’s right, MissGuided offers a base of 30% student discount (which is already hefty enough as is,) which frequently gets bumped up to 40-50% off for limited amounts of time. While you might have to sift through some more risqué pieces to find things that are appropriate for work, it’s well worth it. Hell, while you’re at it, why not order yourself some weekend wear as well? You deserve it, being the hardworking babe you are. 😉
And that’s all she wrote, ladies! Have fun absolutely killing it at the office, the pool, the store, the couch, abroad, or wherever you’re at this summer – and do it in style!