Reader Question: Spring/Summer Workwear Options (Keep It Chic With No Frills)

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A lovely reader wrote in recently asking for help with summer workwear options. While I haven’t worked in an office for quite a few years, I have a deep love for gorgeous pants, blazers and pretty color combos when it comes to workwear. I found myself pulling this together and wanting to find some occasions to wear these to myself!

Reader Question: I am writing out of desperation…and admiration, as I adore all of you and this blog. Here is my issue: I still work in an office. A business-casual law office (in a department where I am on my feet and move around quite a bit). In this new upside-down Covid-world I am having such a hard time finding work-appropriate clothes (I heart joggers and workout clothes so much…but my attorneys do not) that fit my style and new waist size (normally an 8-10…probably on the side of 10-12 now). I went shopping in person with my pre-teen today and we both agreed the ruffles and flowers are so not me. I love a good wide-leg crop, classic simple tops/layers to contend with the constant temp flux with a/c and a sometimes humid Maine summer. My casual style leans towards Laura and Shana I’d say (although I truly love everyone’s vibe). I have broader shoulders, athletic build, and carry weight in my middle, so the ruffles and embellishments just don’t do it for me. Anyway…I can’t be the only one that needs a spring/summer work capsule wardrobe refresh…or am I?? Anyway…I’m pleading for some inspiration.

Yours truly – A 42-year-old mom in Maine who wishes she could wear jeans and a t to work every day but can’t!

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe For The Business Casual Office

I used to work in banks in my younger years, and though I moved on to art school and graphic design where the dress code is quite different, I remember quite well those many years I spent needing appropriate workwear (that was even back in the day when pantyhose were still required…I guess some places may also still require that?) Anyway, all this to say I understand this mom’s request for layers — something without frills (hi, me and ruffles are a no-go) and wide-leg pants options.

So, I’ve pulled together a little capsule wardrobe of clothes I’d actually wear to an office these days. I stuck with a lot of go-to neutrals here, one classic blue stripe and then a few earth tones to say ‘summer.’ I just got in that cropped linen blazer, and OMG it’s fab, friends. True to size and so, so cute. The full capsule is nice to see all together, and then below I’ve shown some outfit ideas for each pant style.

This summer, business casual outfits for the office are on order. Think layers, wide-leg pants & neutrals, but definitely no frills & ruffles. This capsule wardrobe nails it.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

cardigan | ss sweater | cami | ivory pants | sweater blazer | striped top | cropped blazer | sleeveless top | gray pant | black heel | rust sandal | loafers | ponte pant

1. Summer Office Outfits With Ivory Pants

Oh, yes. There’s nothing better than light-colored monochromatic looks for summer, right? So breezy and beachy but still office-appropriate. Even with a classic black shoe thrown in, the looks feel fresh.

This summer, business casual outfits for the office are on order. Think layers, wide-leg pants & neutrals, but definitely no frills & ruffles. This capsule wardrobe nails it.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07


01 | Banana Republic ivory wide leg pants: I love how versatile these can be. The styling in the top collage is YES love, but also they can go monochromatic for the office and for the weekend. Cute cute. Love them with the tan sandals for casual days.

02 | Banana Republic sweater bomber: A great lightweight summer layer for chilly offices.

03 | J.Crew tassel loafers: These add that classic menswear nod I love in easy-to-wear flats that have lots of style.

04 | Ann Taylor cropped blazer: I have and adore this jacket. I’ll be styling it up soon, but just know it’s good! And TTS. I wear a 6.

05 | Ann Taylor suede sandals: Love this pop of earthy color these add. Here’s a closed toe alternative with a similar rich shade.

06 | Banana Republic sleeveless button down: Another pretty color addition to the otherwise monochromatic pieces. I’m so digging the rich earth tones right now.

07 | Sole Society Katarinaa Pump: I love this shoe so much. The front gives that super-chic, pointed-toe, flattering d’Orsay look of a much more expensive shoe, but the ankle strap and block heel make it so much more wearable for all day. The stacked heel also gives a slightly casual summer vibe without being too casual.


2. Summer Office Outfits With Gray Pants

J.Crew claims these gray pants are great for all seasons, and the light color works so well with the ivory jackets here. That pretty, earthy pink cami just pops with it all, too. These looks could easily take you into fall, as well. Love wardrobe pieces that keep working, especially for the office.

This summer, business casual outfits for the office are on order. Think layers, wide-leg pants & neutrals, but definitely no frills & ruffles. This capsule wardrobe nails it.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08

01 | J.Crew Cameron 4-season stretch pant: A great go-to slim pant for the office. Love this light gray for warmer months.

02 | J.Crew silk blend crewneck: Silk and silk blends are great options for layering anytime of the year, including warmer months. Love the monochrome gray look with a chic black heel.

03 | Sole Society Katarinaa Pump: So cute. And I love this shoe brand.

04 | Ann Taylor cropped blazer: Can’t wait to style this up. TTS.

05 | Banana Republic washable silk cami: BR is one of my go-to places for great, easy-to-care for camisoles. I love this earthy pink. Adding some of these tones to the neutrals really makes them feel updated for summer.

06 | J.Crew tassel loafers: So classic.

07 | J.Crew shrunken sweater blazer: This is an item I keep including in my posts and keep wanting to try. What a great comfy layer for just about every season. Digging it with the white tee. Swap out for a white blouse or silk tank for the office.

08 | Ann Taylor suede sandals: Rust is a neutral this season.


3. Summer Office Outfits With Black Tux Pants

I love these Universal Standard tux pants. I have them in the other side stripe option, but these have a black side stripe making them the most versatile and dressier of the options. They fit great, feel great on, and are so flattering. These will be cropped on those of you much taller than 5’5″ as they hit at the foot on my 5’4″ self (see them here, wearing a 3XS) A cropped pants look is great for summer though, so I think these would work on a variety of heights and sizes.

This summer, business casual outfits for the office are on order. Think layers, wide-leg pants & neutrals, but definitely no frills & ruffles. This capsule wardrobe nails it.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07

Universal Standard is one of the most size-inclusive brands, and I’ve been so excited to check out more of their items. They’re also offering some great tee designs that benefit Planned Parenthood, in honor of Mother’s Day and all the types of mothers out there. LOVE this company so much.

01 | Universal Standard Ponte pants: Such a great pair of pants! You will not be disappointed!

02 | J.Crew Slim Fit Shirt in stripe: This is one of the best striped dress shirts around. Runs TTS. I wear a 6. It would look great with the gray or ivory pants, too! A blue stripe is just a classic option, but it can also have a summery feel when styled with lighter pieces.

03 | J.Crew tassel loafers: I may just need to order these already. Haha. I love them so much.

04 | Ann Taylor cropped blazer: Can’t wait to style this up. TTS.

05 | J.Crew tassel loafers: So nice, I included them twice. The rust sandals would also work here, though!

06 | J.Crew silk blend crewneck: Silk and silk blends are great options for layering anytime of the year, including warmer months.

07 | Sole Society Katarinaa Pump: Ok, shoe update time for me. Love these, too. The profile is just so pretty and flattering.

Shop The Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe For Summer

I hope this helps our lovely reader and some of the rest of you out there who need an office lewk update. This was a fun post to do, and I promise to continue more in the future! If you have any summer office go-to pieces, as always, please share!

xo,

L

Would love to hang out over on Instagram for more try-ons in my Stories, funny IG finds, and more daily musings @laurajansenstyle Think lots of style stuff, a little bit of donut love and some social justice, too…oh, and our favorite spots in and around our home in Portland, Oregon. Come say hey!

9 COMMENTS

  1. Aloha! Business professional in Honolulu (read hot and humid for most of the year)… I love these choices. I also recommend Harper Rose sheath dresses from Nordstrom and the Sloan pant from Banana Republic. I can wear both year-round here but they are also great warm weather options for places that have four seasons.

  2. Hi! I am the very happy reader that asked for help. I can’t thank you enough for not only answering me, but putting together the loveliest pieces. I can’t wait to shop! xoxo

  3. I just want to say Thank You! I so appreciate all of the time, effort and honesty you put into your posts! I have bought so many of the items you’ve recommended and I’ve never been disappointed. You have a great sense of style and I know When you say something is amazing or totally worth it, I will also love it. Your posts are so thorough and detailed. Thank you again and Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Oh wow thank you so much, Michele! That’s everything I hope for them when I put them together. I so so appreciate you taking time to say this and so so glad the posts are helpful for you. Happy Mother’s Day, too! xo

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