Back to the Office.

Back to the Office
wearing my classic six donna back in brooklyn

As life gets back to normal, normal-ish, or whatever we are calling it, one of the biggest questions I am getting has been, “We’re going back to the office. What the heck do I wear!?”

That and similar questions about social anxiety and you know, being in public and interacting with large groups of people again. I always caveat that I have not worked in an office environment in a solid seven years but I recognize that if you are asking me, you like my style and want to know what I would wear, so today I am sharing my workwear recommendations.

Some people and websites I love following with great workwear and/or classic, tailored style: Anh from 9 to 5 Chic, Hitha Palepu, The Docket Blog, Jean from Extra Petite, Mary Orton, and of course Abra Belke from Cap Hill Style. (Would love to hear your favs in the comments section!)

Also a reminder about the new shopping grids! If you are on mobile the descriptions will show up next to the items… if you are on desktop just hover to see why I love something.

Back to the office.

I got a few very specific reader questions. Usually I tackle reader questions in my email newsletter but these felt a little more dense so I wanted to dedicate a blog post.

Q.

I am going to need to start heading back to the office 1-2 days a week. I work in the tech space, with coworkers who are all a solid 10+ years younger than me. (I’m in my mid-40’s.) I’d love some wardrobe inspiration that would help get me excited to put on real clothes again, as I have been LIVING in my Vuori Joggers for a couple of years now.

I mainly wear good jeans (which I still have a solid wardrobe of) and tops, but am open to branching into real pants / dresses / etc. I also mostly wear neutral colors, too. Budget is ~$200 for tops, ~$300 for dresses, and probably around that if you have good shoe options to consider too. (That being said, if I love it and they’ll last forever, I’m willing to spend more if needed!) Really my goal here is to fit into the space and with the team while also conveying that I am an adult, if that makes sense.

A.

Alright! Let’s dive in here. (And thank you so much for the specificity!) First of all, you must try out the Classic Six Donna Shirt, pictured above. At $185, it is perfectly in your budget range and it is truly the best white shirt I’ve ever owned. It’s long and lean and just the greatest. I could build you a whole wardrobe of Classic Six pieces; for the sake of mixing things up I won’t but it’s just the best shirt. If you’re between sizes, go up – I have the 8 in this and it fits me perfectly.

Also on the tops front: AYR has GREAT button downs. I am partial to the stripes but again, not going into an office. I think this chambray one would be perfect! Also on the tops front: this one from Faherty. It’s an OG favorite of mine. The perfect balance of feminine and pretty with professional. Lastly, this Tibi top. I have this one and love it. I think it would be great with skinny pants or jeans, or even shorts. Probably not very office appropriate but I love them with these leather shorts which I also own and love. (They’d be totally fine in a more creative environment!)

For shoes, I am really sorry to do this (they are definitely more expensive) but these Sarah Flint heels are just perfect and are something you will have forever. I wear mine constantly and they have held up really well (the block heel is ultra sturdy which means fewer trips to the cobbler than my stilettos. I have the cognac but the black may be more practical for the office. If you are new to the brand SARAHFLINTxGRACEATWOOD will get you $50 off your first pair!

Q.

I’m in NYC and am in a corporate office a couple times per week (I work from home with my cat the rest!). I’m 50% bored with my work wardrobe and 50% scared to try some of it on…so am looking to update it with 3-5 easy, structured pieces – thinking a couple blazers/structured sweater, a good shirt, comfy trousers (do those exist after 2 years in yoga pants?). I’d love them to work year round if possible. I feel totally overwhelmed by the choices out there though. Total budget for these pieces is $1200-1500

A.

I put together some ideas in the below shop. First of all, I just bought these black cigarette pants from Saks and I love them. I do not wear pants very often (and I bought them to wear with fun tops like this one) but they are the perfect black pant.

Since you said “structured sweater,” I love a cardigan.

I think they look really great buttoned up and paired with nice jeans or pants. My go-to is Tory Burch for cardigans (I love the buttons she uses) but with her recent sale, all my favs are sold out. I spotted this striped one from J. McLaughlin and like it a lot. This would look great with the cigarette pants and a sharp heel. Ann Taylor also has great cardigans… I have (and really love) really love this one.

Please don’t hate me (I know it is pricy) but I’m also going to highly recommend the Veronica Beard Miller Dickey Jacket in navy. This is expensive but if you ask me, worth every penny. The tailoring is amazing (I am built like Spongebob Squarepants and it gives me a defined waist and the loveliest sharp shoulders), and it will last you a long time if you take proper care of it. It’s the Chanel bag of blazers. If you are like NO GRACE YOU ARE CRAZY, fear not: Banana Republic has their own version which is also very nice. I have the tan one and like it a lot.

Lastly, don’t sleep on M.M. La Fleur. They have so many great pieces for the work. My two favorites would be this (washable!) silk t-shirt and these stretchy culottes (the perfect transition back into “hard pants”).

Plaid cardigan for office
I love this cardigan so much.

If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only feature things I truly love here. Thanks for your support.

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Leave a Comment

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53 Comments

  1. Kassie:

    Such a great post! It almost has me excited to go back into the office. Almost!!

    6.20.22 Reply
  2. shannon:

    Can I ask about the jeans you have on with the white button down? I checked your jeans postings but didn’t see them. They look awesome.

    6.20.22 Reply
    • This is an older photo so I am not sure! Most likely an AGOLDE pair (the Riley and the Jamie are my personal favorites).

      6.20.22 Reply
      • shannon:

        thanks! checking out now!

        6.20.22 Reply
  3. Nora:

    This is a great list! I need some updated classics.

    6.20.22 Reply
  4. Lindsey K:

    Thank you!! It’s been a real challenge to prepare for return to office dress and organize a major wardrobe overhaul!

    6.20.22 Reply
  5. Jaclyn Kuclo:

    Hi Grace! I don’t even go in the office and I really enjoyed this post. It always feels good to look put together and these items are perfect and so classic. Thank you for a great wish list! 🙂

    6.20.22 Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the post! I agree! While my personal style might be a little more “creative,” I don’t go to an office but find that getting dressed every day regardless makes me feel good.

      6.20.22 Reply
  6. Mary:

    Thank you for doing this post. I work in an office that has become more and more casual over the years but I still like to convey a modicum of professionalism. I am a staunch supporter of LOFT black or white skinny jeans as you can throw them in the washing machine and they are not the super tight kind of skinny jeans. They look great with a cardigan, a button down or a blazer. I am still on the hunt for the equivalent solid black tee that I can wear under cardigans and blazers. I find most of them wear out after a few washes. I love hearing what other people wear as their go-to work “uniform” and how they accessorize or make it special day-to-day. I also like hearing any tricks people have to keep the costs down. I’m happy to splurge on shoes and sweaters but like to keep the basics affordable as those need to be replaced more often.

    6.20.22 Reply
    • Rachael:

      Grace, thank you for this MUCH NEEDED post! The Ann Taylor sweater link is sending me to the BR top just above. Can you take a look so I can shop through your link? Thank you!

      6.20.22 Reply
    • I love this philosophy, thank you for sharing!!!

      6.20.22 Reply
    • Shana:

      On the tees for under items I usually go to Uniqlo, Madewell, Zsupply knowing that they are going to wear out I get 1-2 and then rotate them to weekend or sleepwear. In the summer I wear tanks or sleeveless (JCrew, Madewell, Target) again small volume and knowing they aren’t going to make it longer than a season. For accessories I wear longer necklaces so jazz it up a bit and headbands, lots of headbands right now 🙂

      6.20.22 Reply
      • Thank you for this! Love the idea of rotating tees to sleepwear.

        6.20.22 Reply
      • Mary:

        Thank you. I forgot about Uniqlo!

        6.20.22 Reply
      • Rotating out the tees is BRILLIANT. I get so annoyed when they stop looking fresh, but just planning on that to happen is so smart!

        6.20.22 Reply
  7. Shana:

    Great post! I love the BR top and it’s on the way to me 🙂 We have been back in the office 3 days a week since Valentine’s Day and I would say everyone is trying to figure workwear out, men included 🙂 My struggle is I have several blazers but how to wear them without it looking like a suit? I want it to be this casual look that appears put together but I am struggling hahahaha

    6.20.22 Reply
    • I would mix them up! So, say… a navy blazer with the black cigarette pants, or a black blazer with a different color pant or over a dress. Or, if you are allowed denim… dark denim and a blazer all day every day!

      6.20.22 Reply
  8. Jessica Camerata:

    While I don’t go to an office, I did rejoin my cowork space and it’s finally forcing me to really get dressed outside of lunch and dinners with friends. Feels kind of good, I guess, lol!

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

    6.20.22 Reply
    • It feels good. I got rid of most of my sweats!

      6.20.22 Reply
      • caroline:

        this is a great post! i am fully remote, and started a new position last year. with the pandemic there was no travel, but i have to go to dallas in july for a few days now. i have no clue what to wear in the excessive heat, what the dress code usually is for these things, and i have never met any of these people in real life! i can fully echo the social anxiety & feel like outfits are the only thing i can really control going into a situation like that.

        6.20.22 Reply
        • Yes!!!! I always feel like if I am well dressed, I am a little bit more in control. Good luck!!! xx

          6.20.22 Reply
  9. Joy:

    You’re a lifesaver. Thank you for answering my question – I’ve got the Classic Six shirt and those black pants in my cart now!

    Joy

    6.20.22 Reply
  10. Alexandra:

    Such great inspiration! I’m up for a director position on a team that isn’t as casual as my current role and my closet is feeling lack luster. I’ve been out of the “workwear” game for a few years, so thanks for pulling together some exciting options!

    6.20.22 Reply
  11. Lauren P:

    What size do you take in AYR? they look like they run big- Thanks

    6.20.22 Reply
    • I take my usual size. I got a medium in the shirts as I’m tall; the small would have been too short/boxy! They are def a little oversized though.

      6.20.22 Reply
    • I am a 12-14 in tops (ish) and at AYR in the “Deep End” I mostly go between L and XL because I like the oversized fit (XL definitely oversized). I easily wore M when I was more 10-12 and honestly that one still fits. The sizing of the rest of their stuff is less flexible, the Deep End shirt is particularly forgiving.

      6.20.22 Reply
  12. Kat:

    Just want to say I love the format of this post! Even though it isn’t something that applies to me personally, the “personal shopper”-style response to someone’s very specific dilemma is fun to read.

    6.20.22 Reply
  13. Katy Boettcher:

    Thank you for this post! Super helpful.

    6.20.22 Reply
  14. Lauren:

    I took a new job this month that is 80% back in the office — it is closely tied to the historic Stockyards District in Kansas City (think cattle, livestock, rodeos, and horse shows). All of my clothes and wardrobe choices would have traditionally mirrored all of these excellent pieces in your post, but now I’m trying to bring a slight Western influence into my closet. It’s definitely a fine line between dressing like myself and not feeling like I’m wearing a cowgirl costume. Adding an AYR button down to my wishlist 🙂

    6.20.22 Reply
  15. Madeleine:

    As someone who works in a conservative industry, this is spot on!!

    6.20.22 Reply
  16. Dori:

    Love this post!! It’s been so challenging navigating reentry to the office. You’ve given us great options that are work appropriate with a nod to the relaxed style of the pandemic. Thank you!

    6.20.22 Reply
  17. I just wanted to second these recommendations!!! I have now been going to the office for a year post-pandemic, and I have to be relatively dressy (I wear a jacket) 1-3 days a week. I LOVE the AYR shirts that Grace recommended. LOVE. I have bought them in multiple sizes (M, L, XL) for different levels of over-sized-ness. My **dry cleaner** noticed because I picked up the green stripe while wearing the pink stripe. 🙁 I ALSO love the Veronica Beard blazer. I didn’t want to love it, given the price tag, but it was so good that I bought a second one. Also, the last time you posted about workwear, Grace, a friend of yours (I forget who!) recommended blazers from Sezane, which are a bit cheaper. I have Christie in about 4 colors now!! Thank you for this recommendation!! https://www.sezane.com/us/product/christie-jacket/blue-flowers. (Apparently this brand is problematic, which I am choosing to ignore, which is privilege.) Lastly! I’ve had good luck with slim black pants from J Crew: https://www.jcrew.com/p/womens/categories/clothing/pants/slim/cameron-slim-crop-pant-in-four-season-stretch/G8547. I size up so they aren’t too tight. I will say it seems to depend on the fabric/color/season, because I’ve had to return a grey pair where the fabric wasn’t as good and the sizing was off, but black has been consistent. These are good for days when jeans do not seem like the right option.

    6.20.22 Reply
    • Nellie, you are a gem! Thank you so much for chiming in! YES – that was my cousin! She loves the Christie blazer!!!! Those J.Crew pants are so cute!

      6.20.22 Reply
  18. Love these recs! Hope your week is off to a great start!

    6.21.22 Reply
  19. caroline:

    popping back to say I bought one of the AYR shirts, and it is fantastic. i’m probably going to get another color. i’d been on the fence about them, because i wasn’t sure if the buttons could handle my boobs, but finally hit add to cart after browsing this post. i’m like a 40DD and there were no issues. i usually have to go up 1-2 sizes in j.crew to make that happen and wind up with a sloppier fit than i’d want for a work outfit. thanks 🙂

    6.23.22 Reply
    • Yay! That makes me so happy to hear. Really appreciate you coming back and sharing your experience, I think it’s so helpful for other readers!

      6.23.22 Reply