modern business woman fashion

Work Your Office Style: A Guide for Women in Business

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Gone are the days of being limited to matching suit separates, pencil skirts, and pantyhose when it comes to workwear. Even if you still prefer to invest in classic office attire like these pieces, there are many ways that you can update the look of them with simple changes so that they’re fitting of modern business woman fashion.

Whether you prefer more casual attire or lean toward formal work outfits, women today want pieces that work for them and their personal style – we don’t want to all be expected to look the same! I’ve put together 14 outfits below that feature some tried and true workwear staples, mixed with some more unexpected pieces that you may not have considered trying before.

Modern Business Woman Fashion

1. cinched waist button-down + khaki pants + ballet flat

modern business woman fashion

button-down shirt | pants | shoes | earrings

When it comes to classic workwear pairings like button-down shirts and a pair of khaki pants, little changes can make this look fit a more modern work wardrobe, and your personal style.

First, try playing around with the fit and silhouette of classic pieces like a light blue button-down. Instead of long sleeves, try mixing it up by choosing a short-sleeved or sleeveless version, like the one above. This particular style also features slimming elements like a cinched waist, which creates a pleating effect. It’s a flattering difference that makes for a more feminine look rather than a typically boxy, oversized button-down shirt.

Next, when it comes to khaki pants, a boot-cut fit or straight-leg version isn’t always the most flattering when it comes to all body shapes. Try switching out these silhouettes for a slim fit or flared style. Think about your favorite pair of jeans, and then don’t be afraid to apply that to business casual styles like khaki pants.

You know what looks best on you when it comes to weekend wear, so don’t be afraid to reach for some of those same styles and apply them to your workwear as well. This pair is also stretchy, which will be more comfortable when you’re sitting down for long periods of time.

To finish this look, a pair of comfortable flats are the perfect choice. This style of shoe pairs well with almost any kind of dress pants, and closed-toe shoes are often required in office dress codes. Add a pair of classic gold earrings, and you’re ready to go.

2. knit shirt + flared trousers + silver earrings + mary jane flats

modern business woman fashion

shirt | pants | mary janes | tote bag | earrings

If your workplace leans towards a more business formal dress code, this look is perfect for you. Small touches will update the idea of a neutral shirt with black slacks.

For the lover of neutral colors, try updating your pieces by choosing different silhouettes and fabric combinations – like this knit t-shirt. This is the perfect way to add more interest to your looks, while also acting as a great way to transition pieces from season to season.

When it comes to slacks, try choosing an unexpected silhouette rather than a wide-leg trouser. This flared pair is slimming through your legs and widens at the bottom. The flared hem makes them a great style for a wide range of shoes. If you prefer a flat heel, these Mary Janes in patent leather are also great for transitional wear, while the shine on the leather offers an elevated detail.

Finish the look with a classic black tote to fit all of your workplace essentials, and silver carabiner earrings for a modern take on a classic hoop.

3. pleated midi skirt + button-down shirt + knit sweater + flats

modern business woman fashion

skirt | flats | sweater | button-down shirt | hoop earrings

When it comes to modernizing workplace attire, layering is another great solution. By trying new and unexpected pairings, you’re creating interesting looks with pieces that you may already have had and worn many times before.

For this monochromatic look, start with a pleated skirt in satin. The sheen on this skirt is an elegant way to start your outfit, while also making it appropriate for offices that may call for a more elevated dress code.

Next, add a white-button down shirt. Button-down shirts are the perfect piece to play off your statement pieces and act as a great layering item. If you live in a colder climate (or maybe work in a frigid office building), an alpaca hair or cashmere sweater will be your next layer. This softens the look and adds interest by bringing an additional texture into play.

Complete the look with accessories that play into the monochromatic color scheme. Ballet flats are a classic choice, and silver hoops will pair well with the neutral palette. If you prefer gold, that would be an easy change to make as well in order to tailor the outfit to your personal style.

4. shirtdress + bracelet + mule heels + ring

modern business woman fashion

shirtdress | ring | bracelet | mules

Here’s yet another way to put a modern twist on the classic button-down shirt. This creped shirtdress is a chic way to transition into spring and summer workwear. It also doubles as a great piece to wear on the weekend as well, when paired with sandals or more casual accessories.

Blue in this shade is perfect for someone who likes bright colors, but who also likes to stick to a capsule wardrobe when it comes to workpieces. It’s a colorful shade, but also acts as a neutral.

Speaking of shoes, this pair of mule heels is a great choice if you prefer shoes with a bit of height. Gold jewelry completes the look with an interlocking chain bracelet and a gold dome ring.

5. t-shirt + black blazer + wide-leg pants

modern business woman fashion

t-shirt | blazer | jeans | loafers | watch | earrings

With many workplaces now choosing to lean into a more casual dress code, it’s the perfect time to think about how more formal office attire can be translated into business casual or casual outfits.

For instance, take a classic black blazer – a staple piece of formal attire. To create a more casual outfit that incorporates your blazer, reach for a pair of light-wash or medium-wash wide-leg pants.

The wide-leg jean is a more modern take on classic denim and will complement the oversized fit of the blazer. Use a plain black t-shirt for your base, tucked into the jeans. Add a belt if that aligns with your personal style!

Accessorize with a chunky black leather loafer. The platform on this pair will help you appear taller, lengthening your legs even in the wider fit of the jeans. A mixed-metal watch and wide gold hoop earrings complete the cool, yet professional look.

6. t-shirt + denim jacket + midi skirt + tote bag + sandals

modern business woman fashion

skirt | sandals | tote bag | denim jacket | t-shirt

Speaking of a more casual dress code, here’s another way to style a plain black t-shirt for spring. This look would be perfect for a casual Friday, or maybe a workplace with a generally more casual atmosphere. Modern business woman fashion doesn’t always equate to business formal attire.

Start with your black t-shirt to begin this look. Next, find a patterned midi skirt, like this floral style. A midi skirt is the perfect way to add some femininity to your look, while still being appropriate for work due to its longer length. Add a denim jacket for another layer, and to act as another texture.

If your office allows for open-toed shoes, these leather sandals are a great choice. Then, bring that same shade of cognac leather back into your look with the details on this Longchamp tote – the perfect bag to go from work to weekend.

7. cardigan + sweater pants + gold earrings + flats

modern business woman fashion

pants | sweater | flats | earrings

Although sweatpants aren’t exactly workplace-approved, these sweater pants are a great way to achieve a comfortable look while looking chic doing it. The pleats on this pair of flared pants elevate the style to more closely resemble a trouser style of pants, and also help to elongate your legs by drawing the eye up and down. Plus, pants don’t have to be straight-leg and stiff in order to fit modern business woman fashion!

On top, a neutral cardigan with gold details is the perfect pairing. The gold buttons help elevate the piece, and the neutral colors help to ensure that you’ll get a lot of wear mixing and matching this sweater. You could also layer a white t-shirt underneath, if you prefer to style the cardigan with one button open on top, or maybe in the middle.

Tie gold back into your look with these droplet statement earrings, and finish the look with a practical but comfortable ballet flat.

Want some extra free help? If you’re looking for a shopping guide to find pieces like this for your capsule wardrobe, MCO has checklists and more inspiration you can get by signing up here!

8. flared pants + cardigan top + gold earrings + suede mule slides

modern business woman fashion

pants | mules | cardigan top | earrings

If you liked the last look, here’s another way to style a similar outfit for warmer weather. First, start with the short-sleeved cardigan top. The black and white stripes are a chic, classic pattern that will never go out of style, and the gold buttons are the perfect detail.

Next, these kick-flare pants are a great choice if you prefer flat shoes. The slightly shorter length ensures that you don’t need a pair of heels for them to fit right, and the vertical seam once again adds a flattering detail that will lengthen your legs. They’re also made from a soft, stretchy fabric – making them some of the best work pants on Everlane’s site!

Add another texture to the look with a pair of mule slides. They resemble sandals, except for the fact that they adhere to a closed-toe shoe dress code. Square gold earrings finish off the look.

9. button-down dress + turtleneck + mary jane flats + tights

modern business woman fashion

dress | mary janes | tights | turtleneck | laptop case

If you like the classic feel of a matching business suit set, here’s a way to update it for modern business woman fashion. Start with this button dress, which calls to mind a classic vest. It’s shorter in length, so try layering it with sheer tights to make it appropriate for a professional setting.

For your base, a cream turtleneck will offer a nice contrast in color while also ensuring this look is warm enough for cooler months. A patent-leather pair of Mary Jane flats will add a bit of shine to the look, and complement the nostalgia-inspired style.

Finally, a croc-embossed laptop cover is the perfect way to tote around your tech in style if you don’t have the need for an entire tote bag.

10. collared shirt + cropped trousers + gold earrings + loafers

modern business woman fashion

pants | loafers | shirt | earrings

Stick to a monochromatic, neutral color palette for effortlessly chic business attire. This cream-toned ensemble is comfortable yet classic, and would be a great choice for going to work, or working from a home office.

A pair of cropped slacks like these are a great way to highlight your footwear. They’re also a good idea in the warmer months when you’re choosing shoes that don’t necessarily require a pair of heavy socks underneath. The button detail near the waist is a fun accent that is reminiscent of maritime styles, and would also look great paired with a striped shirt for a summer aesthetic.

To stick to the cream color palette, this collared shirt is a perfect choice for a comfortable yet classic look. Add leather loafers, which bring the gold details back into your footwear. Double gold hoops complete the style.

11. shirtdress + floral earrings + woven bag + kitten heels

modern business woman fashion

shirtdress | kitten heels | bag | earrings

Spring is almost here, and this sage shirtdress is the perfect piece to blend your work wardrobe with your casual style. The color is perfect for warmer weather, and the belt offers a great way to add a flattering cinch to your midsection. This style is sleeveless, which makes it the perfect piece to add a cardigan to as well.

Accessories are an easy way to make this dress a more casual look, or on the flip side, more formal attire. For a work wardrobe take, add a pair of kitten heels with a closed toe. They give you the same elevated look as high heels but are more comfortable due to the shorter height.

Next, this textured tote bag is the perfect addition to fit everything you need to bring to the office. Finally, add a pair of floral earrings with a diamond center for the perfect subtle touch of spring.

12. blazer + mini dress + square earrings + loafers

modern business woman fashion

dress | blazer | loafers | watch | earrings

The best work clothes are often ones that can be mixed and matched many times, so that you can create new looks with the same pieces. For example, deconstructing women’s suits into standalone pieces is the perfect way to update the classic pantsuit for modern workwear.

For this look, take a classic blazer and pair it with something other than a matching pair of trousers – like this mini-shift dress. The dress pulls in a brown from the color palette of the blazer, which means that the blazer still becomes part of a coordinating look without matching perfectly.

Complete the look with a classic leather loafer, a mixed metal watch, and silver earrings. The mixed metal approach in your accessories is another way to add a modern twist to a classic style.

13. short-sleeved button-down shirt + chino pants + woven mules

modern business woman fashion

shirt | pants | woven mules | bracelet | earrings

Creating looks for modern business woman fashion also means that we have to take warmer weather into account! No one wants to sit in a stifling office in a turtleneck and blazer. When spring and summer roll around, fabric choices are key to making chic yet comfortable outfits work. Just by choosing a piece in a lighter, more breathable fabric, you can transform classic looks with minimal effort.

Linen is the perfect fabric for workwear. Although it might traditionally feel more synonymous with casual clothing, linen is light, breathable, and easy to wear. Plus, there are so many affordable women’s work clothes available in this fabric type. One of the best places to find reasonable, quality linen in Everlane. This short-sleeved button-down is made with 100% European flax linen, is under $100, and comes in four different solid colors.

Next, a pair of relaxed-fit chino pants will not only keep you cool, but also offer a way to incorporate classic khaki pants into your look to elevate your linen top. Speaking of elevating your look, gold jewelry is the best way to do just that with minimal effort. Complete your look with woven mules, which offer a sneaky way to wear sandals while still abiding by a dress code that calls for closed-toe shoes.

14. embroidered midi dress + hoops + tote bag + mule slides

modern business woman fashion

midi dress | tote bag | mule slides | hoops

I couldn’t finish out a guide to modern business woman fashion without talking about a midi shirtdress in classic white. This dress is perfect for summer, and features eyelet embroidery that adds a fun, interesting detail to a timeless silhouette. The bow at the waist instantly adds shape to the style, so that it fits your body type perfectly.

Leather tote bags arguably make for the best work bags (I’ve been using the same one for work every day for 7 years now). They hold up well, are easy to wipe down if dirty, and can hold everything from a laptop to a water bottle to an extra layer in case the office air conditioning is blasting that day.

Finish the look with woven mule slides, which add another fun texture to the style. Classic gold hoops round out your accessories for this easy, breezy workwear style.

Ready, Set, Work It

A modern work wardrobe doesn’t have to be revolutionary, and by no means does it entail throwing out all of your past pieces and starting from scratch. Oftentimes, “modernizing” looks is simply pairing classic pieces in new, unexpected ways.

Playing with layers and textures will keep your pieces looking fresh long after you’ve bought them. Plus, keeping up with the latest trends can often be costly – try starting with what you have, and then filling in the gaps of your wardrobe with pieces that you genuinely love. Hopefully this guide inspired you to do just that!

Looking for more pieces to create a capsule wardrobe that you can mix and match for work? Up Next: Streamlining Your Closet: Key Pieces to Include in Your Capsule Wardrobe Essentials List


Hi, I'm Cassie! My husband and I have a full house with three furbabies, and when I'm not spending time with them, I'm loving all things fashion, travel, and romanticizing life's little moments. I'm also a self-described book nerd, and am always on the hunt for my newest read.