23 looks to update your office wardrobe

MANILA, Philippines – Far from the boxy suits and shapeless blouses, modern work wear is all about great fit, functionality, and unobtrusive style. 

Depending on the industry you’re in, the unspoken rules vary. At a full-on corporate role at a conservative institution, miniskirts, bright nail polish or large prints may not be appropriate. But for work at a more laid-back setting, any of these might do just fine.  

The retail shows at the recently concluded Philippine Fashion Week – with some brands showing fall collections and others showing spring/summer – showed off some very wearable looks that can be adapted for work.

Here are a few suggestions to update your work wardrobe, based on what we saw at Fashion Week from retail brands Uno de 50, Sfera, Suiteblanco, Kashieca, and Human.  

Keep in mind that these looks incorporated the runway styling. To adapt them for the daily grind, certain elements should be edited. Makeup, for example, is often dialed down for work.  

For the freezing office 

If you’re forever freezing, layering is key. The Forever 21 runway showed off how to do this with a quirky feel, pairing skinny trousers with loose boots. The layers involved were fitted rather than slouchy, keeping the look put-together.  

Notable on the Suiteblanco runway were two key jackets: a short, puffy leopard-print one and a deep red one with leather sleeves. 

Another way to layer is to wear an oversized cardigan or sweater over a long-sleeved top – one can be patterned, another basic.  

For day to day 

Neutrals are a workwear favorite, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. White ensembles seen in the Uno de 50 show were classic, but there’s a modern feel in the straight, deliberate lines. One can also opt out of the accessories piled on in the runway version – the clothes are great on their own. Uno de 50's accessories also work when worn just a few pieces at a time. 

There’s no going wrong with a little black dress (rightmost), and this one, a collaboration between Vania Romoff and Kashieca is a versatile option. Button up for work, let loose after. (READ: Different ways to wear your little black dress)

For workplaces where the dress code is more relaxed, Suiteblanco showed off options in leopard print and leather – both toned down via the styling. The leopard blazer was worn with a demure white blouse, knee-length skirt, and taupe boots, while the leather pants were paired with a very modest white top and sensible pumps. 

Leather can actually work quite well – opt for a matte version, not the glossy one, and keep everything else simple. 

Faux leather options at retail stores keep the material thin and therefore not stiflingly hot.

The boxy, oversized trend continues – and you can work it into your office look by pairing such a piece with a contrasting fitted item, like a pencil skirt. 

If that isn't your thing, you can always update your go-to blazer with another textured jacket in a neutral color like black or gray. 

Office evening party 

Nearing the end of the year, there will be a slew of office events and get-togethers, where top management might be present. Party attire for work functions obviously can’t be too wild. 

Updates to the little black dress might be in order. The LBD presented by Bea Samson, also part of the collaboration with Kashieca, features a festive, textured black print. Uno de 50 showed two notable black dresses: a fitted leather number and a long tank top dress, both accessorized with statement necklaces.

When shopping for your own versions for these, remember to stick to a hemline and slit you’re comfortable with, as you wouldn’t want to be holding your skirt shut while you’re supposed to be mingling.  

This green dress from Human with an origami skirt was a standout in that runway show, too – a good option for an informal work party. Pair with brogues or short ankle boots rather than heels for a sporty, modern feel. 

Casual Friday 

Dress down on Casual Friday while keeping your look work-appropriate. Go for a printed dress in a feminine, fit-and-flare silhouette, go monochromatic with a deep, burgundy red, or channel a utilitarian look with a shirt-dress in a color like olive green or chocolate brown.  

Take a denim look up a notch by pairing with fancy pumps, or take a break from skinny fit trousers by trying a loose pair in neutral shades.  

Office beach trip/outing 

Finally, there’s every chance that December could see year-end office trips or out-of-town planning meetings. While that is a chance to let loose and have fun, you’ll still want to keep a little more covered up than usual. Uno de 50 presented a few options here: 

Will you be updating your work wardrobe? What’s the dress code like in your office? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com

All photos by Mark Cristino/Rappler