Heading back to work? Update your office wardrobe with these must-haves


Although key workers and healthcare providers have been going into work as normal during the pandemic, other industries have spent the last few months working from home, as per government guidance during lockdown.

However, these rules were eased last month, as Boris Johnson announced on 17 July that restrictions would be lifting so that firms could bring employees back to the workplace.

Since August 1, companies have had more discretion to bring staff back to the office, but only if its premises are “Covid secure”.

While many employees have continued to work from home despite this rule change, from September, the government is set to launch a media campaign to encourage workers to return to offices in a bid to save shops in town and city centres.

A government spokesperson said the government had been “working closely” with employers to make workplaces safe during the pandemic.

If for you that means a return to the office, you may be dreading reuniting with formal clothes, especially as your work attire has probably been sat at the back of your wardrobe untouched for the past four months.

As a result, you may be in need of some new clobber, whether you work in a corporate or more relaxed environment.

So we’ve done the hard work for you and picked out the modern yet functional pieces to see you step back into your office in style. Whether you’re after wardrobe staples or statement looks, here’s the only shopping list you’ll need.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Dresses and jumpsuits

One-piece items, such as dresses and jumpsuits, are the perfect opportunity to play with colour in your wardrobe, and when it’s warm enough to forgo a jacket, you can just throw them on a go, with little forward planning needed.

A comfortable and simple outfit will make the earlier mornings that much easier too; an important factor given we’re currently used to rocking loungewear while working at the kitchen table.

For a bright pop of pink, this Kitri Irina pink shirt dress (Kitri Studio, £145) is a contemporary, utilitarian take on the classic shirt dress.

With oversized pockets and ivory shell buttons, it still keeps a retro feel, while being a fun piece to add to your work wardrobe.

For an all-over print, this Rixo mimi smudge print dress (Rixo, £255) offers a rainbow of shades that are bold enough to make a statement without overwhelming your figure.

The long sleeves, high neck and fitted waist are feminine but conservative enough for a strict dress code and the viscose fabric will keep you cool, even if temperatures rise.

This Komodo trapeze jumpsuit in coal (Wolf & Badger, £145), is an easy-to-style piece that will help you transition from pyjamas to office-appropriate attire. It has a loose, but not baggy, fit and an adjustable tie waist.

Designed with the environment in mind, the fabric is a mix of Tencel, which is sourced from natural wood, and breathable linen. It’s a piece that will not only look good, but will also feel good while you wear it.

If you prefer a more minimal style, try this H&M cotton satin shirt dress (H&M, £15).

It has a collar and button-down front which adds a formal touch, but the tie detailing on the sleeves and relaxed waistline stop it from feeling stuffy.

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Shirts, skirts, jackets

Layering pieces like shirts, blazers and skirts are easy to dress up and down, depending on the formality of the occasion, and can be worn on your off-days too.

This Reiss drape shoulder sleeveless top (Reiss, £95) is a contemporary take on a classic white T-shirt. It will match with everything but is formal enough for even the strictest of dress codes.

The high neck makes it demure enough for the office but the slight asymmetric neckline keeps it interesting while being bang on trend.

Throw on this Zara oversize rustic blazer (Zara, £59.99) to instantly smarten up your outfit. This versatile piece can easily be taken off the office gets too hot.

Ditch the dark colours and instead opt for this cream linen blend to add a summery touch while keeping cool.

A midi skirt like this pleated midi (Arket, £69) is another staple piece worth adding to your basket.

Ditch black for navy, which is brighter but just as smart, then team with sandals and a simple top, and use your accessories to add a pop of colour.

For when it’s too hot to wear a blazer, but you still want to look smart, this metallic leaf wrap blouse (& Other Stories, £45) is perfect.

Team with a gold necklace or pair with the matching smart cigarette style trousers to create an easy office go-to outfit.

This Cos organic cotton silk relaxed top (Cos, £55) is ideal if you want to wear a classic T-shirt style top on its own or under a jacket, but are looking for more structure.

Made from Mulberry silk and organic cotton, it’s designed with a drawstring waist, but this is only visible at the back to highlight your silhouette.

Footwear and accessories

Having spent the whole of lockdown in slippers, we’re not quite ready to wear heels, so we’re plumping for these Clara vegan loafers (Grenson, £285) that are far more lightweight than they may look.

While Grenson is known for its handmade leather footwear, it has a whole collection of vegan shoes to shop so you don’t have to compromise. This pair is made from microfibres that mimic cowhide, but they are recyclable and naturally antibacterial.

With fun tassels and a chunky platform sole, they instantly elevate any outfit while still keeping feet comfortable.

If however, you want to dress up and make more of an effort than you have during the whole of lockdown, slip into these & Other Stories heeled leather square toe sandals (& Other Stories, £85).

With a square toe and mule design, they’re on-trend but are classic enough to last you long into future seasons.

Simple jewellery pieces like this Astrid & Miyu sun necklace charm in gold (Astrid & Miyu, £35) are perfect for layering with minimal outfits.

Keep the sunny charm close, as scorching temperatures seem fleeting this year. You can add it onto an existing gold chain, or pick up the coordinating link chain necklace here (Astrid & Miyu, £65).

Embrace the rainbow jewellery trend with these Stellar79 spectrum huggie hoops (Stellar79, £165) that will add pops of colour to your earlobes and make a small, but striking impact to your look.

If you have multiple piercings, stack them with clashing designs and styles or wear them on their own with your hair tucked behind your ears to make them stand out and catch the light.

Chances are, on your first day back, you’ll have plenty of belongings to bring to the office, so make sure your handbag can hold everything you need.

We love this Matt & Nat spen handbag (Matt & Nat, £135) that will fit a 13in laptop, has a smartphone pocket and is made with vegan leather and 100 per cent recycled nylon lining.

There’s also an adjustable shoulder strap in case you need to carry heavy hardware on your commute.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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