We Still Have No Clue What to Wear to the Office, So We Asked Stylists for Outfit Ideas

Whether the dress code is business formal or super casual, here are a few tips to try, straight from fashion professionals.

Office Outfit Ideas 2023
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You have to admit, claiming you have "nothing to wear" is a slightly dramatic declaration. Chances are, you do have something to wear, you just don’t feel like putting together an outfit (or, you know, breaking out the iron). It happens to the best of us; getting dressed can lead to frustration and confusion, and when it comes to what to wear to the office, well, it's easy to run out of ideas, especially considering how much workwear has evolved in recent years.

MIKADO personal stylist Jordan Stolch tells InStyle she's been flooded with new bookings recently, as clients are damn-near stumped over how to go about dressing to go to work.

"Sheath dresses, pencil skirts, 4-inch heels, and overly-tailored blazers are almost entirely a thing of the past," Stolch says of this new era of office dressing. "The focus now is on comfort, while keeping it polished." To achieve this look, she suggests focusing on more deconstructed, less-structured pieces that pay homage to the clothes one used to wear to the office, but with a "practicality meets functionality spin."

Office Outfits

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Still, not everyone headed back to the office is demanding a drastic change in the dress code. According to a state research survey issued by Zippia, 46% of the 2,000 surveyed workers in the U.S. think jeans should always be allowed in the workplace, while 51% of that same demographic say denim should only be worn occasionally. At the same time, only 1% of participants want a business-formal dress code.

The good news is, there's a happy medium: in 2023, what to wear to the office (mostly) comes down to personal preference. You can dress up for work, or wear something comfortable and still look glam. But if you’re struggling with how to strike that perfect balance, we reached out to stylists and fashion experts for their best tips.

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Choose an Ensemble That Sparks Joy

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Struggling to get even a tiny bit excited about leaving your home office for your cubicle? Celebrity stylist Cindy Conroy suggests channeling your inner Marie Kondo while getting dressed to spark some much-needed joy.

"Fashion is all about fun expression, and your office attire can (and should) reflect that," she tells InStyle. "Wear things that bring you joy, like a colorful blazer and wide-leg jeans, or a playful patterned skirt set. For more saucy flair, walk on the wild side with a cutout top."

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Trousers Are Comfortable and Professional

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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As far as fashion stylist and CEO of Abby Young Styling, Abby Young, is concerned, nothing says business casual more than loose-fitting, wide-leg trousers. Her fit of choice: longer pants with platform sneakers — “if your workplace allows” — or a pair of pointed-toe ankle boots for pants that are just about floor length.

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Statement Pieces Can Start Conversations

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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If the social aspect of the office has you tempted to call in sick, Conroy tells InStyle a great outfit can make for an awesome icebreaker.

"Try a black and white striped ensemble, or a 3D floral blossom blouse and muted pants. Both are instant conversation starters that will come in handy for making friends on your days back in the office."

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Comfort Is Key

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Home is where the heart is, but it's also where your stuff is — like your fluffy slippers, comfy couch, and favorite snacks. To make leaving your space for an office space easier, fashion designer Ramy Brook stresses comfort is key and says there are three pillars for office dressing in 2023: fashion, fun, and comfort.

"I often opt to wear a dress or jumpsuit. A one-and-done piece that is effortless, but looks good and can be accessorized with fun jewelry, a gold chain belt, and either a heel or flat, depending on my schedule and mood!"

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Loafers and Ballet Flats Are The “It” Footwear Options

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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On the subject of shoes, stylists said both loafers and ballet flats will likely be the go-to pairs for 2023. Young prefers the latter, telling InStyle that sharp ballet flats and pointed slingback kitten heels “go with almost everything,” while fashion stylist, lifestyle blogger, and podcaster, Tara West is anticipating a loafer boom:

“From the runways of Milan to the streets of NYC, designers are serving us fresh updates of this notably-conservative classic,” West tells us over email. “Think updated chunky platforms, low-profile flats, and bold colors like fuchsia, emerald green, and copper.”

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Keep a Neutral Layer at Your Desk

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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Offices have a reputation for being either too stuffy or mercilessly freezing. To combat a cold work environment, Brook suggests stowing a jacket behind your chair. Preferably something neutral-colored or denim that would layer well over different looks.

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Leggings Count as Pants Now

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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Somewhere, Blair Waldorf is shaking her head profusely. That said, Queen B failed to acknowledge that leggings, sweats, or anything with a stretchy waistline aren't just pieces of clothing, they’re beacons of comfort and emotional support. Ariane Goldman of HATCH agrees: leggings are not just a leisure staple.

"I think we're seeing leggings evolve into more pant-like silhouettes thanks to cropped, flared hems. Think less Soulcycle and more business-casual with flats and a button-down," Goldman tells InStyle. "We're only beginning to explore how chic elasticized pants can be."

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Jeans Are Generally Acceptable, Too

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If you can’t bear to part with your trusty pairs of denim bottoms, Brooklyn-based stylist, Allison Koehler says that’s A-Okay (office dress code permitting, of course). A good wardrobe, she tells us, starts with a great pair of jeans.

"What I'm seeing from my clients is a desire to wear 'real' clothing, as opposed to sweats and athleisure,” says Koehler. “My advice? Now is the time to invest in a really great pair of jeans (or two); my favorites are from Blaze Milano and Moussy Vintage."

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Incorporate More Color

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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While neutrals are still at the forefront of officewear, personal stylist Allie McKenna is sending out a PSA that muted pastels are also having a moment, so “don’t be afraid to play with color.”

“Sometimes we lose ourselves in our jobs and color is a way to bring out a little bit of your personality while still appropriately dressed for work,” McKenna explains. If you’re hesitant, the stylist suggests starting small with a colorful pop on your shoe choice, a delicate scarf, or a fun belt.

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Break Out Your Favorite Blazer

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Blazers are one of those versatile items of clothing that can go from brunch to the boardroom and look fabulous either way. It's because of that versatility and classic air that makes it an excellent piece to have in your workwear arsenal.

"A structured blazer will withstand the test of corporate time because it's a timeless wardrobe staple that can instantly elevate a casual look, while still being comfortable and on-trend," says the founder of San Francisco-based DTC clothing retailer and styling service, Short Story, Isabella Sun. "For our clients with decision fatigue, we recommend this back-to-the-office formula to keep your transition smooth: a sharp semi-casual blazer worn over a contoured bodysuit, and a versatile pant that wears as easily at home as in the office."

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Matching Sets Still Reign Supreme

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According to wardrobe stylist Caitlin Saucier, if your goal is to look chic but still feel like you're wearing pajamas, matching sets are an easy solution. "For those that really care about comfort, stock up on matching silk or knit sets depending on where you live," she advises, adding Zara is her go-to retailer for these types of pieces.

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White Sneakers Are the New Dress Shoes

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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You heard it here first: Saucier is giving you the green light to retire the pumps collecting dust under your bed. Find a sleek white pair of designer sneakers instead and, according to Saucier, you can wear them with sundresses, denim, and even suiting. Common Projects, she says, are "a great wardrobe staple."

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Add a Pantsuit to Your Rotation

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While there's no denying the three-piece set is having a moment, stylists Justin and Julia of 707 Fine Clothing say pantsuits are the gift that will keep on giving in the workplace.

"Power suits are perfect for formal conferences, speaking engagements, and meetings, but one of the best things about them is their versatility," the duo tells us. "You can mix and match the suit separates with pieces already in your closet and create so many different outfits using the same set."

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Elevate Your Staples For a Sustainable Win

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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Sustainability has become a priority in the fashion space, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an officewear trend for 2023 is elevating the classic or basic pieces that are already in your wardrobe. For fashion stylist and style expert Naina Singla, that translates, specifically, to a black turtleneck — a favorite in her wardrobe due to its versatility and functionality. 

“[A black turtleneck] may feel less enticing because it's so simple, but all you need to do is add a few simple styling tricks to transform your outfit with this classic wardrobe staple,” Singla tells InStyle of the understated clothing item. “For example, to create a more casual work look, try a black turtleneck paired with a crisp white button-down shirt over top for an added layer of warmth and a polished style. Another option would be to layer a black turtleneck under a slip dress and wear it with tall black boots. This will instantly make the dress more work appropriate and wearable during the colder months.”

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Metallics, Metallics, Metallics

Office Outfit Ideas 2023

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Metallics are trending and fashion stylist Christina Stein wants everyone to know, they can work for the office, too.

“Grab a pair of structured silver metallic trousers to pair with a houndstooth coat and a pair of loafers, or update your blazers with a shiny metallic color that fits your personal style,” Stein says. A nod to dopamine dressing, something as fun as this glitzy addition can add a bit of personality to your workwear rotation.

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