15 Modern-Day Basics Every Working Woman Needs

Whoever thought we’d be here? In the midst of a global pandemic with most people working from home in their pyjamas? No formal work clothes or suits the way there were in decades past. The rules have been relaxing for a while now, but with the onset of Corona Virus and everyone working from home more and more, the rules of workwear have changed even more.  Gone are the days when a plain white shirt, a simple back or grey pencil skirt, a black dress, a trench coat, a printed scarf and a pair of back pumps could respectfully be considered ‘workwear wardrobe staples’.

The times are changing and so should we. I, for one, and more excited than ever about this new era of dressing for work once the lockdown lifts and we are slowly allowed back to work, even if only for a couple of days a week. We’re on to bigger, better things than that and its time our wardrobes reflected the same, don’t you think? The new normal when it comes to workwear will be mixing more casual pieces with the workwear you already owned, for a fresh and unexpected twist on an aesthetic that was beginning to border on tired.

Here are a few tips on how to update your everyday basics to nail the perfect outfit every time, with little to no effort. The trick is to pick edgier versions of all-time classics, so you can throw together an outfit that looks like you woke up and made an effort, when you actually pressed snooze six times.

  1. SWAP your boring white shirt —> for one with an interesting detail
    Think embroidery, pleats, a studded collar or ruffles. It should be at a length that can easily be tucked into trousers and skirts, but worn hanging out with skinny jeans, too.
  2. SWAP your basic black pencil skirt —> for a black pleather A-line skirt
    A pencil skirt doesn’t do your post-lunch food baby any favours, but the A-line skirt, however, is a lot more forgiving. If you’re opting for black, one made entirely of pleather (like mine pictured here) or with pleather detailing is the way to go.
  3. SWAP your tired black pumps —> for black ankle boots
    Boy, am I glad we’re not doing the whole peep-toe / platform pump thing anymore. Ankle boots look so much cooler when worn with dresses, skirts and cropped trousers. Bonus points for an edgy lace-up pair.

4. SWAP your trusty trench coat —> for sleeveless jackets
You wouldn’t know it, but the item I reach for most in my wardrobe isn’t a pair of jeans. It’s this grey sleeveless jacket (pictured). It goes with practically everything in my work wardrobe and I’ve worn it on evenings out over a leather skirt and a plunging top, too. You need to get yourself one of these – I’m stocking up on colours stat!

5. SWAP your ballet pumps —> for trainers
Trainers have been all over the show for a while now. Milk it while you can by pairing them with anything from dresses to formal skirts.

6. SWAP your formal black work trousers for a smart pair of jeans
Gone are the days when jeans to work are frowned upon. A pair of light wash denim mom jeans looks polished and professional with a breton stripe top and a blazer. Skinny jeans in a dark wash look professional with a printed blouse tucked in. The only rule – steer clear of distressed pairs and rips.

7. SWAP your loyal work handbag for —> a bright bag or backpack
Work is your home away from home, and your handbag needs to reflect that. Pick an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink size in a bright colour or glossy, textured croc finish and a structured silhouette as opposed to a black one. A leather-look backpack is also a chic way to tote around everything you need without coming across as super formal. I have my eye on this one for Christmas.

8. SWAP your basic black leggings —> for black pleather leggings
Now apparently, every fashion blog and magazine on the planet believes we all want to look, act and dress like Parisian women. However, I read an article recently that says Parisian women absolutely detest leggings. The rest of us? Not so much. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wear my weekend lounging pair to work, but I’d opt instead for a chic and oh-so-rock-chick pair of pleather leggings that cool girls world over love. Such a simple but edgy one-up from the humble black legging, don’t you think?

9. SWAP your old tank tops and turtlenecks —> for bodysuits
Let’s face it, we all have a favourite black, white or grey turtleneck or tank top in our wardrobe and they’re most likely looking a bit faded or have a hole or two. Its time to replace them with something fresh, and why not opt for a bodysuit that tucks neatly into trousers and skirts for a fabulous fit? I don’t know what I’ve done without them all these years!

10. SWAP your blazers for —> bomber and biker jackets
Okay, these may not be entirely work-appropriate, depending, of course, on where you work. But a sports-luxe inspired bomber or a rock chic biker jacket is the perfect way to stay warm without looking like you just left work even when you haven’t if you’re wearing a blazer. The ones I reach for most are this embroidered number, this fun botanical one, this athleisure-inspired mesh one and this one I got as a souvenir in Paris.

11. SWAP your basic after-work-drinks clutch for —> embellished cross-body bag 

On-point embroidery, dazzling beads or sequins, fun patches or rock chic studs and hardware details – none are off-limits and are guaranteed to elevate your evening out outfit, even if it’s basic AF. Feeling bold? Do what I did and squeeze most of them into one like this.

What are your favourite modern-day basics? Share them with me in the comments box below! See you at the next post! xx


1 Comment

  1. July 26, 2017 / 11:52 am

    Amazing dresses which every women look out for. Thanks for sharing !!

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Anushka Moore is a Manchester-based Digital Content Creator and Stylist at Smart Works Greater Manchester, where she empowers women to dress for success at interviews and jobs.

She is also founder of the widely celebrated Instagram Body Positivity movement, 'Midsize Collective'. Her work with Smart Works and Midsize Collective have been highlighted in publications and media institutions of repute such as The Telegraph, BBC Radio Manchester, WhoWhatWear and ELLE.

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