Sponsored by Saks.
It’s been a good spell since I’ve worked in an office. Eight years, if we’re counting. Definitely pre-kiddos, as evidenced by the 4-inch heels I wore daily (and the many happy hours they carried me to). And while my current Work-From-Home Mom status doesn’t require anything even remotely business casual, I’ve had this itch lately, as I see people going back to work around me, to build up a return-to-office wardrobe that I’d truly get excited about.
So, I got to playing a bit.
And if I can think of one place where it’s extra fun to play around with capsule-wardrobe essentials, it’s Saks. Not only does Saks carry some of our favorite, tried-and-true brands here at The Mom Edit, but the shopping experience on its site is so very pleasant. My favorite feature, especially when we’re talking about investment pieces (or even moderately priced pieces that I intend to wear for good long time), is the ability to sort by material.
And I’ve mentioned it before, but the “For Me” tab is dangerous. Like, how did Saks know this Boucle Ballerina Wrap Top is just the thing I’ve been looking for to take my black-tank-and-leggings uniform to the next level?! Take all my cookies, Saks. And then use those cookies to take all my money. You’ve earned it with your wizarding ways.
From 10/18-10/21, earn a Saks gift card up to $900 with select purchases using code OCTGIFTSF. It’s a buy more, earn more kinda deal, so if you’ve been waiting to pick up a new handbag or a versatile fall jacket — or maybe you intend to refresh the ol’ work wardrobe, as outlined here — now’s the time.
Business Casual Workwear Worth Getting Excited About: Neutral Basics + Playful Details
Knowing more about my current personal style, this return-to-office capsule wardrobe is full of easy-to-wear separates that look decidedly put-together — without being stuffy. So while 20-something me was always trying to look older by pairing sky-high black pumps with bland button-ups, this time, we’re looking at a mix of business casual pieces that are neutral enough to multitask — but with playful, unexpected details that keep things interesting.
And footwear that could actually see me through the day without a desk drawer full of gel inserts.
Another way this workwear capsule differs from the work wardrobe of my youth? There’s most definitely an emphasis on quality over quantity. It’s funny how, when you’re in your early 20s, wearing the same pants twice a week feels like a fashion crime; now, it just feels like You Know What You’re Doing. Trends aside, dressing with confidence is really my only goal these days. Wear what you love for no other reason than you freaking love it. And, I suppose, for the sake of this post, because it’s office appropriate. Ha. But you get my drift.
In fact, I love all of these items enough that I’d look forward to wearing them all the time, not just for work. And to ensure I’m getting the most mileage out of the investment here, the vast majority of pieces in this wardrobe could easily skew casual for weekend wear too (bejeweled graphic tee, anyone?). Swap in knit joggers or distressed jeans for any of the trousers; switch the tailored tops for broken-in tees and graphic sweatshirts (I have this one and love the neckline so much); or trade the shoes for a pair of cool high-tops, and we’re firmly back in Casual Emily Territory. Easy.
16 Separates, 1 Really Stellar Return-To-Office Capsule Wardrobe
So without further ado, here’s everything I’d seek to wear if my day job suddenly required me to appear in-person. Timeless, unstuffy, grown-up separates that exude confidence — and would easily extend into my off-the-clock wardrobe as well.
With a slim fit (and made from 100% cotton!), this Vince Essential Turtleneck Sweater is such a classic piece on its own, but it’s also perfect for layering under shells and sweaters.
Oh, look, speaking of shells, I adore this Vince Twisted Cable-Knit Wool Shell. The cable knit gives it sweater-vest vibes, which feels really current, but the turtleneck keeps it timeless. Super-cute on its own (I’d layer a silk cami under it, or the slim turtleneck), but it could be pulled over the shirtdress below too to create the feel of separates.
The crystal chain detail on this Cinq à Sept graphic tee — dead. This would be so good under either of the jackets, and of course it’d be ideal dressed down with jeans or jazzed up a bit for date night.
I’m so stinkin’ picky about fancy-ish blouses, friends, but I kept coming back to this Veronica Beard Ares Floral Blouse. The darker floral pattern feels more grown up/less sweet, and it injects just enough pattern into this mostly neutral capsule.
I’m always a sucker for asymmetry, and between the buttons and the hemline, this Veronica Beard Button-Down Ruched Shirtdress is killing it. It’s classically office appropriate without being dull and would be so fun to funk up a bit with those See by Chloe boots and the Veronica Beard houndstooth jacket. And it would still look pretty damn cool with sneakers and a preppy cardigan on the weekends.
Vince cashmere is always a worthy investment, and this funnelneck sweater looks like it has such a great shape. Slim enough to be tucked into either of the pants, if needed, but slouchy enough that it could top off the dress too.
Worth a click-through, because this little Veronica Beard houndstooth jacket has a completely different look when the collar is worn down. Almost moto-y and so very cool. Two looks in one? Yes, please. (It also makes it feel like a more worthy investment since it’s on the spendy side.) Adore the classic houndstooth pattern paired with the edgier shape and belted cuffs.
A statement bag that doesn’t scream LOOK AT ME and is a genuinely useful size, ensuring plenty of wear? Yes. This Saint Laurent Leather Shopper is large enough for all my office essentials, including my wallet/keys/phone, daily planner (yes, I still use a physical planner), and even a laptop. Available in a few really pretty colors if black is too basic for you. A forever item, through and through.
Nothing says “return to office” like dialing in your makeup game. I always veer toward a natural look, and this Charlotte Tilbury lip liner adds just the right amount of polish.
These Shashi Jade Pavé Gold-Plated Earrings are so perfectly cool for every day with the look of two hoops, and the flash of pavé makes them a wee bit glam.
This Coach crossbody is the epitome of versatile. Great size, timeless shape, and with a top handle and a crossbody strap, it has two different looks. Professional and just playful enough in a sporty British Racing Green. Smitten.
This Cinq à Sept Khloe Crepe Ruched Blazer feels really special despite the fact that, yeah, it’s a black blazer. The proportions are great. All the formality of a genuinely tailored blazer, but the relaxed shape makes it so versatile. And the ruched sleeves! So flirty and elegant. Get suiting vibes by pairing it with the cigarette trousers, and use it as a topper to bring just about any blouse into office-appropriate territory.
With a 2.75-inch heel, these See by Chloé lug-sole Chelsea boots are what I’d call semi-sensible. High enough to make an impact, but not so high that you’re feeling it by day’s end. The pull-on styling, higher shaft and lug sole make them easy to pair with just about anything.
These! A hybrid between a loafer and a ballet flat — be still my heart! The leather on these ballet loafers looks so supple too, and with all my past experiences with Tory Burch, the break-in period is more or less nonexistent. So comfy.
I can’t get over the yoke stitching on these Cinq à Sept Nadine Flare-Leg Jeans. It makes them feel so much more tailored and elevated than a basic pair of jeans. They’d be so fun to dress up a bit, and off the clock, they’d be great with an off-the-shoulder bodysuit and heels or a cropped cardigan and sneakers.
One of the most enduring trouser styles ever, cigarette pants always manage to look sharp, and the slimmer leg means they pair well with almost all footwear too.
2 Capsule Wardrobe Swaps (Or Additions) Worth Considering
As I was putting this capsule together, I hemmed and hawed for literally an hour (literally, in the literal sense, not the filler sense all the kiddos have adopted) about whether to also include these two items — or swap them in for one of the others. So, we’ll give them a nod here. Both add an element of softness that I’ve been seeking in my wardrobe these days (it goes back to that whole Schleppy-Chic Thing I lean into more often than not) while still looking intentional enough for the office.
The first? These excellent Vince Tie-Front Crinkle Pants that feel SO effortlessly cool but possibly require just a little more forethought on the styling front (I can see them working with all the tops except for the floral blouse).
And then this truly gorgeous Veronica Beard Isra Printed Silk Maxi Dress, which, while less neutral than the black button-down dress, is no less versatile. I’d love to see how the sleeves look billowing out from under the cable-knit shell, and it’d be easy to pop the turtleneck sweater under as well, for some added warmth in the winter. It’s on the spendy side, but if I could justify wearing it with some regularity — like, ohhh, as part of a capsule, let’s say *wink, wink* — it could be a worthy investment.
Hope this is helpful if you’re making the return to the office and need a little inspiration, friends. Now I just need an excuse to pop into an office so I can make this vision a reality. Might have to put a bug in Shana’s ear about a Philly trip next year, hmmm… (We’d have only too much fun.)
Thank you so much to Saks for sponsoring this post. I’ve always had such a lovely shopping experience at Saks, whether it’s in person or online, and I love its vast selection of both timeless and current investment pieces. And thanks, pals, for reading along with us here and supporting the brands that enable us to keep doing our thing. I know your time is valuable, and I so appreciate you spending a bit of it here on The Mom Edit.
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