Helena Balls: Top 5 workwear wardrobe staples

Do you need to spend lots of cash to have a good work wardrobe? Think you have to sport the very latest trends to look good in the office? No, I believeĀ it’s much more simple than that. Make sure you have these 5 staples and there’s no need to branch out or splash all your cash. Think classic pieces, well fitted cuts and versatile colours.

The two piece suit

Yes, I’m calling 2 pieces 1. For the times when you need to be super smart, a two piece is invaluable. If you are not the kind of person who loves shopping and getting new stuff all the time, I’d go for something classic. Black, navy or dark charcoal grey works really well, as do pinstripes. Try to avoid a lighter grey as this colour can make you come across passive. Not what you want in an interview for example. Also, stick to classic shapes, straight legs with the hem grazing the shoe and a long sleeved fitted blazer.

For the more adventurous and confident, perhaps opt for something with a bit more of a design finish. I love a 7/8 length or carrot shape trouser and at the moment, you can also find some great wide leg bottoms. As for blazers, a double breasted boyfriend style is great and very easy to dress down with jeans.


The shirt

A slim fit shirt with a small percentage of stretchy material in the fabric blend tends to work much better as a basic than a stretch shirt. Pick a shirt with slim sleeves as they will crease when you wear your blazer. If you’re going for just one, you can’t go wrong with a crisp white. Make sure it’s machine washable as they get dirty so quickly, especially around the cuffs and the collar. Also, pick a shirt that isn’t too long. Having it tucked in shouldn’t look bulky and it’s seriously uncomfortable walking around with lots of material down your pants.

Love shirts and have lots? How about going off piste with an oversize version? You can’t really wear it tucked in but if you are a seasoned shirt wearer, it doesn’t matter. Our stylist have some ideas and for her 4 top ways to style a shirt, check out this video: 4 Ways to style a shirt

The T-Shirt

A well fitted T-shirt is incredibly versatile as well as easy to style. Try not to scrimp on quality as they tend to get misshaped in the wash if it’s badly made. A lot of offices dislike sleeveless so make sure it has proper (even if they are short) sleeves on it and that it doesn’t look more like a tank top. Think about the neck line, if you suit a V-neck or a round neck better. If you have a short neck, a V is better and it can make anyone get a swan neck.

Black or white is great but for T-shirts, you can probably afford to experiment a bit more. Also, if you want to look smarter, opt for a silk blend or a cupro as these materials look a lot more dressy.

The pencil skirt

Yes, this old classic. It can be a tricky piece as if it’s too long and the material is static, it’s hard to walk in it. If too short, a split back can show off a lot more than you intended. Try a jersey skirt if you have this problem, otherwise a blend containing elastane or lycra should be fine too. For me, the ideal pencil skirt high waisted with a split backĀ and quite long (almost calf length). I love wearing it with T-shirts and shirts tucked in, it looks conservative and sexy at the same time.

More relaxed office? Wear it with a crop top or a more casual T-shirt. Also, team it up with trainers instead of heels.

The desk to dinner dress

I’m so not adventurous when it comes to this, I love black and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But regardless of colour, I’d go for a fitted dress with something interesting to take it from work to evening. I’m a sucker for leather so love this leather detail dress from J. Lindeberg. I find it super smart with an edge and it fits so well. It’s like an office LBD and all you need to do is add some heels and some jewellery and you’re ready for that date or dinner.

Want to feel more relaxed? Go for a jersey dress with a print or some details to make the dress less office and more Michelin star.

Stylist’s tip

Make sure that you are always wearing at least one of these key staples. Once you have your basic, you can play around with other items and style your outfit around your main piece.