"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: Vest Suit + Sleeveless Trench
From strategy meetings to weekend gossip at the water cooler, the majority of Mondays are spent catching up with your colleagues after two days apart—aka, a prime opportunity for any statement look to be noticed. A matching waistcoat and tapered pants, like Victoria Beckham’s here, or, if your office is more laid-back, a black jumpsuit accented with a bright sleeveless trench (for a bolder style, consider Tome’s striped take; a classic khaki or navy option is great for more formal environments) is striking enough to get noticed without sacrificing sophistication.
2. TUESDAY: Sheath Dress + Oversized Oxford Blouse
Office dressing in the summer is all about finding a balance between two temperatures: Humid heat and aggressive air conditioning. A simple sheath dress—for a zip-front detail like Olivia Palermo’s, go for this Rag & Bone design—is easy to adjust with a quick change. For spending time in a chilled cubicle, start the day with a crisp button-down layered beneath; before an al fresco happy hour, ditch it and accent your neckline with a choker instead.
3. WEDNESDAY: Pencil Skirt + Silky Blouse + Heels
Siiiiggghh. You’re only halfway through the week, and rousing yourself in the morning is suddenly starting to feel really, really tough. When you’ve slammed the snooze button one or two (or, uh, five) too many times, rely on this no-fail combination, courtesy of Jessica Alba (you can make it work with most any fluid blouse, but we especially love the pussy bow accent on hers), to come together in less than five minutes. Pro tip: Change into pumps at your desk—sneakers are your best chance of making it in on time.
4. THURSDAY: Floral Dress + Flats
Good news: Pinstripes and checks are not the only prints you can sneak past HR. Dainty floral motifs feel equally polished on a mid-length dress with a higher neckline, like Michelle Obama’s, or this breezy Rebecca Taylor piece. For a commute-friendly finish, add in any heel-free footwear that’s not sneakers, flip-flops, or shower slides.
5. FRIDAY: Graphic T-Shirt + Pleated Skirt
The secret to giving casual Friday a cool-girl spin? Karlie Kloss’s brilliant combination of a floaty accordion pleat skirt and a slogan T-shirt. To keep the look from skewing too relaxed, however, stick to simple crewneck cuts with just a few simple words across the chest (anything from Clare V.’s line is a winning bet). Don’t worry: You’ve got all weekend to break out your vintage band tee collection.