How to Build a Work Wardrobe at… Boden

Welcome to our new series, How to Build a Work Wardrobe At ___. Today, we’re looking at how to build a work wardrobe at Boden — you can also check out how to build a work wardrobe at Nordstrom (and view the entire series how to build a work wardrobe here eventually).

Boden is one of the readers’ favorite places to shop online for workwear, and with good reason — most of their workwear is machine washable, has friendly sizing up to size 18, and also offers tall or petite size ranges. Some of our favorite pieces for work include:

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How to Build a Work Wardrobe at… Nordstrom

how to build a work wardrobe

2017 Update: Curious about when the next big Nordstrom sale is? Check out our guide to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2017, with Early Access starting July 13! Sign up for our newsletter to get our picks for workwear and beyond!

The below content is about the 2017 Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.

As I mentioned this morning, Triple Points are available at Nordstrom from today through May 7 — and the store has a TON of classic wardrobe essentials if you’re looking for advice on how to build a work wardrobe for summer or freshen up an older wardrobe. A lot of these pieces in our Workwear Hall of Fame, but I thought I’d feature them here — as always, note that Nordstrom has long been a reader favorite because of their excellent customer service, long return policy, and all the reviews and ratings.

(You can earn Triple Points through the Nordstrom credit card, of course (you can check out our review on becoming a member here) or, in a newish policy, just by signing up for a Rewards card. For every 2,000 points you earn by spending at Nordstrom, Hautelook, or Nordstrom Rack, you’ll get a $20 Note to spend on anything you want.)

(Psst: I’m thinking of turning this into a series, in part because I vastly prefer to shop from/return purchases to one store rather than 15 zillion little store purchases — plus it’s been ages since we talked about how to build a capsule wardrobe for work, how to build a wardrobe for your summer internship, or how to revamp your work wardrobe.  What other stores would be at the top of your list if you wanted to build a work wardrobe? Perhaps ShopBop, Boden, Bloomingdale’s, J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, or Target? Talbots?)

See everything we picked out below — and please note that there are multiple “pages” of the little widget, so you may have to click the arrows to see everything.

how to build your work wardrobe | how to build a work wardrobe | how to build my work wardrobe

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Tops to Wear with Jeans to the Office

which tops to wear with jeans to the office

2017 Update: We still stand by our suggestions on tops to wear with jeans to the office, but if you’re building a wardrobe for work for the first time you may want to check out The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women and our Wardrobe Essentials for Work.

Here’s a question we haven’t discussed in a while: how to wear jeans to work. Reader E writes in wondering specifically which tops to wear with jeans to the office, particularly because her Midwestern BigLaw office has “jean Fridays” in the summer. Sigh. (FYI, we rounded up all our best tips for summer associates here!) Here’s her question:

Longtime reader here. I have a suggestion for a post – can you do a post on tops to wear with jeans to the office? My (midwest big law) office has “jean Fridays” in the summer, as well as various “jeans days” in connection with fundraisers, etc. throughout the year. I’m always puzzled with what to wear with jeans for the office. Thanks!

We last talked about how to wear talked about how to wear jeans to work in 2015, as well as a post on how to wear jeans to the office in the long-ago days of 2009 (aww, back when bootcut jeans were the fading default and skinny jeans were still relatively new on the scene). I’ve talked in the past about how, if you’re upgrading your weekend clothes, keeping your denim choices fresh is a good way to stay in touch with the styles of “today,” and we recently rounded up the most-loved denim at Nordstrom (the denim brands and styles in the post are sold at lots of places, but Nordstrom has all those lovely customer reviews to help you see the pros and cons of each garment).

(The jeans pictured at top: one / two / three.)

I think a few rules still apply for wearing denim to work:

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Stylish Summer Dress Pants for Work

summer dress pants for womenLightweight, summer dress pants can be difficult to find — you want to look professional, yet be cool, and of course you don’t want to look like a wrinkled mess.  It’s been a while since we talked about lightweight pants for work, so let’s discuss. Ladies, do you prefer to wear pants year-round — and if so, what fabrics and styles do you prefer in summer? Any classic pants you buy year after year in new colors? 

Some general tips at the outset:

    • Watch the pockets — painters’ pockets, cargo pockets, and even regular five-pocket styles can be too casual for most offices (but know your office!)
    • look for details like pintucked creases down the front (for example, these Theory pants) — the pintucked creases have a way of keeping the look sharp and structured even as the pants loosen up through the day
    • check out our tips on how to avoid sheer pants if you’re leaning towards wearing white pants for summer

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Summer Dress Pants in Stretch Cotton

For a more conservative business casual office, stretch cotton is probably the first line of defense. These are widely available in ankle pants; you can also find some stretch cotton trouser options.

Pictured below: onetwo / three / four 

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Sheath Dresses for Work: The Best Dresses of 2017!

The Best Sheath Dresses for WorkSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have. Today’s Hunt: the best sheath dresses for work!

The sheath dress is an easy basic for so many offices, from formal to conservative to business casual. It’s hard to go wrong with the sheath dress, but watch out for these pitfalls when buying it:

  • is the cleavage too low?
  • is the hem length appropriate for work?
  • does it have any trendy detail that will make it more memorable and thus less wearable in regular rotation (exposed zipper, embellishment at neck, etc)?
  • is the skirt’s slit too high (sit down and do the mirror test to make sure!)?
  • does the dress look “tailored” (good) or “body conscious” (less good) to you?
  • can you wear a normal bra with it? (some of the versions out this year are almost like halter dresses, with a lot of the shoulder exposed — I’d put those in the “less appropriate for work” bucket)

Once you’ve purchased your new wardrobe workhorse: make sure you cut your vents. Hang the dress up immediately after each wearing and let it air out a bit.  If it’s part of a suiting set, be sure to dryclean all your pieces together so they show the same wear and tear. Pictured immediately below are some of our Hall of Fame favorites — the best-selling, classic dresses we’ve drooled over for years — but we’ve also rounded up six of the best sheath dressses for work in 2017 that we’ve just noticed (including some killer sales). Ladies, which are your favorite sheath dresses for work right now? What are your favorite features (pockets, machine-washable) for your sheath dresses? 

First up, the classics:

the best sheath dresses for work in 2017 - the classics!

Pictured above: one / two / three / four / five

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White Pants for Work: Yea or Nay?

White Pants for WorkReader L wrote in to ask about white pants for work — do they make more opaque white pants for work? What are the best tricks and tips for wearing white pants to work? We’ve talked about how to keep white blouses white — and the best white opaque t-shirts — but we have’t talked about white pants in a long while. First, here’s reader L’s question:

With the beginning of spring and lighter colors I’d love to get a pair of white pants for work. The few I have tried on have been very see-though up top. Do you have any suggestions for white pants or tricks to help with too sheer pants?

First: the old rule is that you aren’t supposed to wear white until Memorial Day. So technically, white pants are only for summer, not spring. But I’m seeing them EVERYWHERE this spring (particularly for weekends, with distressed/ripped white skinny jeans) — so they’re clearly more popular (to say nothing of all the suffragist connotations with white pantsuits). So let’s talk about this: do you wear white pants to work, whether in spring or summer? What rules do you have around “white pants for work,” and what tips and tricks do you have to make sure they’re not too sheer?

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