“What should I wear to work today?” Whether your office is a slick corporate building, airy loft space, or wherever the next client meeting takes you, chances are you ask — and struggle to answer — this question several times a week. To streamline the process (and set your alarm for a little later!) tune into our new Sunday night column, 9-to-5 Fashion, for five perfect HR-approved outfit formulas to see you through Friday.
1. MONDAY: Tweedy Skirt Suit + Pointed Pumps
Of course workwear savant Amal Clooney has delivered the perfect sartorial start to our week: matching separates in summer-weight tweed. (No, that’s not an oxymoron! Just look for fabric made from airy, breathable fabrics, like cotton or linen, in a light color—this matching pink jacket and skirt from Rebecca Taylor fits the bill.) Because black accessories, especially black leather accessories, often feel too heavy for the tail end of summer, it's safer to stick with soft tan- and dune-colored add-ons, instead.
2. TUESDAY: Black Pencil Skirt + Sleeveless Pussybow Blouse
When the temperature starts creeping toward three digits, but HR isn’t down with slip dresses, a breezy silk shell with a ruffle or tie on the neckline—such as these designs from Prada and J.Crew—presents an easy way to keep cool while keeping in line with the dress code. Tuck it into your trusty black pencil skirt and, if policy allows, slip into a two-strap sandal heel (aka, the chicest possible way to avoid foot sweat) like Lauren Conrad’s here. Otherwise, a traditional pump is easy enough to swap in.
3. WEDNESDAY: Printed Trousers + White Jacket
We’re not talking about some over-the-top wild cat motif, of course—the opportunity to enjoy that comes in roughly 72 hours. In the meantime, use pants in a classic windowpane pattern (this Chloe style is great if you love Kate Upton’s wide-leg look, but ASOS also offers a slimmer cut option with a flattering ankle-length crop) to elevate a simple white top. Although the model has kept the rest of her ensemble fairly casual for a day at the races, it’s easy enough to dress up: just trade the T-shirt for a button-down and throw on a matching blazer.
4. THURSDAY: Neutral Suiting + Colorful Pumps
Conservative blazer-and-skirt combos still feel plenty exciting with the help of ladylike pumps in a vivid hue. Our favorite color scheme of the moment? Subtle slate grey and a touch a cheerful coral, a la Lupita Nyong’o. (We've already found you the perfect shoes to get started!)
5. FRIDAY: Printed Top + White Pants + Platform Sandals
Huzzah! It’s the end of the week—finally—and you are So. Ready. To. Celebrate. Until that long-awaited 6 p.m. martini comes, however, make like Reese Witherspoon and use a polished pair of white pants to keep more playful elements, like a floral top and platform sandals (we love this black suede style from Alice + Olivia) feeling professional. File this outfit under casual Friday options for places that don’t allow jeans.