For those entering the workforce this season, gearing themselves up for a summer internship, or even looking to refresh their workwear, it’s important to have a few key pieces in your wardrobes that can do wonders without burning a hole in your (brand-new) pocket. Appropriate for both in-office and after work, these pieces pull double-duty and are readily available in shops like Zara, H&M, Mango, Esprit, Marks & Spencer’s, and G2000, which are fantastic destinations for basics—not to mention online stores like Zalora or ASOS with plenty of choices for you to browse from. Here are some essential workwear basics you should have in your wardrobe.
Transeasonal, work-appropriate, and suitable for almost all ages, you can dress these staples up or down. Also, they can be used for different occasions, from creating looks for workwear to weekend wear and holiday outfits. What more can you wish for? Wear ‘em like a pro to the office and look professional but smart and stylish at the same time, too.
Just be little mindful of how you pair your workwear basics to optimise your looks for different occasions. For example, if you wear a white button-down paired with denim, a pair of trousers, or a pencil skirt with flats, you instantly transform your basics into a smart office outfit. If you wear the same white button-down with a pair of shorts or a short denim skirt, it could be a weekend or holiday look.
The ubiquitous white button-down shirt is just the start of all workwear basics and a definite must-have in your wardrobe. These simple tops form the basis of many, many outfits and can be paired with anything—yes, anything! Go casual with a pair of jeans and boots or match it with a knee-length skirt and flats to create an office-ready outfit. ZARA offers a great selection of white button-down shirts, some with unusual collars, frills, and cuffs if you want to style your outfit a little more adventurous.
Just because it’s a plain t-shirt does not mean you can’t wear it to the office. Plain white or black t-shirts can simply be paired with all types of bottom wear—just throw a blazer on top for a smarter look and you’re good to go. ZARA has a good collection of basic tees in different cuts, so you should have no problem finding a style that suits you. You can also pair a plain t-shirt with fancier bottom wear like a pencil skirt or culotte for a more refined finish.
Walked into the office looking just a bit too casual? Throw a blazer on! We usually like to leave one at the office just in case we get called into any last-minute meetings and need to add a dash of smartness to our outfit. Lightweight summer blazers with rolled-up sleeves can be paired with almost all the workwear basics mentioned in this article—a quick and easy way to elevate any look. H&M does a few affordable options for you to choose from.
Pencil skirts can go with button-down shirts, blouses, or basic t-shirts, making them one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe. To elevate it further for conferences or business meetings, you can pair it with a blazer—it will always give off a professional look. Marks & Spencer offers pencil skirts in neutral colours, patterns, and in denim!
This trendy addition to your wardrobe can be an extremely versatile fashion asset! Midi skirts work well in all seasons and they are office-appropriate enough for all occasions. Additionally, depending on what style you go for, you can always wear a midi skirt as part of your weekend going-out ensemble. Mango has a selection that offers good quality fabrics and quite affordable prices.
Shirtdresses are so easy to pull off that they make an ideal wardrobe addition for any occasion. You actually hardly need to style a shirtdress in any complicated way—they work well on their own with both casual and smart shoes. Just throw it on and walk out the door for a put-together look. Casual enough for after-work drinks and formal enough for meeting clients, shirtdresses come in a huge range for you to choose from, and H&M has a good collection to get you started. When choosing a work-appropriate shirtdress, it’s suggested to go for a style that is at least knee-length.
Is it a skirt? Is it a pair of trousers? In some way, they are both! Culottes are women’s trousers, usually knee- or calf-length with a full cut to resemble and hang like a skirt but are actually trousers. Comfortable and easy to match with both smart or casual footwear depending on how dressed up or dressed down you want to be, culottes pair well with structured and understated tops. ZARA has a vast collection of different styles, with bold patterns, seasonable colours, and even some in denim!
Don’t have a power suit to wear to your next meeting? No problem. Fitted bodycon dresses like this one from H&M are classic, timeless pieces that you can use for years to come. Pair it with an accessory like a chic belt or smart blazer for a polished look.
When it comes to wrap dresses or pleated dresses, the choices are seemingly endless, so you should be able to find something that suits your particular style. If you would like to keep things sombre, there are plenty of options in bold, single colours, but those looking for a bit of colourful flair can opt for patterned textiles. These kinds of dresses transition from workwear to playwear incredibly well, and they are easy to maintain and throw on in the morning when you are running late. ZALORA offers a great selection at affordable prices.
Very sophisticated and professional, trousers are a must-have in any wardrobe. If you would like to invest in a stylish asset that is suitable both for all Hong Kong seasons (which are: barely cold, always raining, and stiflingly hot), a pair of cropped, flowing trousers should do the trick. Here is a large selection from Mango in trendy earth tones and neutrals.
A pair of dark, stretchy denim jeans can go a long way. Obviously, we would recommend a classy and clean pair without any ribs or cuts—you can leave those for the weekend, and you can never go wrong with more than one pair of jeans. Easily paired with blouses, button-downs, clean basic t-shirts, and a blazer for a smart, sophisticated look, dark denim jeans are incredibly versatile. Here’s a slim fitted version from ZARA to get you started on your search.
You can easily find your own version of all the above items among the endless retail options in Hong Kong. No matter your personality, most shops will have different styles available to suit your personal preference, body shape, and budget. You can take materials and textiles into consideration as well. For example, you could choose to buy a plain white button-down shirt in cotton, poplin, chiffon, rayon, linen blend, or even silk. Style-wise, it could be fitted to your body or a little oversized depending on what you prefer. Similarly, a plain t-shirt can be knitted, ribbed, cotton, half-sleeve, full-sleeve, or vest-style. Keeping that in mind, if you’re unsure of how to pair items or what suits your body best, it is always advisable to stick to classic, timeless pieces.