What to wear to work in the summer // business casual outfit ideas

linen wide leg pants summer work outfit ann taylor petites
Ann Taylor pants 00p (current version), bracelet, top xxsp c/o (also styled here

With the start of a new season, I've gotten several requests to share more workwear ideas! I work in a coworking space downtown, and while it isn’t the corporate environments I used to be in, it still allows me to make the most of my favorite professional pieces. I also have the occasional need to dress business formal for public speaking or volunteer events, so would be happy to cover that when interview aka suit season rolls around. I'm a firm believer that dressing the part (regardless of what field you're in) makes a big difference in your attitude and confidence as you take on each day!

I often talk about my trusted outfit "formulas." The blouse tucked into a pencil skirt is undoubtedly one of my go-to looks, and can generate endless varaitions with different prints, fabrics, and detailing. Another practical favorite is the skinny ankle pant with a longer (or tucked-in) blouse. And on certain days, nothing feels more chic than a pair of tailored, wide-leg trousers and a cropped blazer.

Ann Taylor is having 40% off everything right now - my pants above are old, but they just came out with a new linen-blend pair which I’ve tried on and confirm are super similar. They're so flattering paired with a more fitted top. AT bottoms in general are loose on me at the waist, so I love ones with a sash belt that you can tighten a bit. From the new arrivals section, I'd also recommend this versatile navy top in a weightier stretch fabric (I got regular xxs as a casual fit).
what to wear to work in the spring summer elegant office style
On me: BP purse, Sole Society sandals 5.5 c/o (also sold here), Ann Taylor top, ASOS skirt
On Karen: Modcloth top, Ann Taylor pants, Talbots bag c/o, Halogen flats (similar)

If my cousin Karen’s outfit looks familiar, you might recall this Modcloth peplum top from back in this post! See how I styled it there for work with a pop of color and a shorter blazer, as a play on lengths.

banana republic petite sloan pants bow shirt work outfit
BP bagBanana Republic pants 00p (shrunken), bow shirt 00p, M.Gemi shoes 35.5 c/o

This look is from this blog post, but I wanted to show my scalloped tote (which comes in three colors!) again for those asking about cute laptop/work bags. It’s borderline big against my 5' frame, but is necessary for hauling all my daily junk ~ laptop, change of shoes, snacks, makeup bag, and more. The faux saffiano textured “leather” is easy to clean and maintain, and the base hasn’t needed a shaper even with the weight of my laptop. Now that I’ve been toting this several times a week over a period of time, I can’t recommend it enough! And oh, did I mention it’s under $50?
classy summer work outfits business casual banana republic asos petites
Banana Republic top 00p, ASOS skirt (similar), AT pumps (similar), Charter Club pearls

This outfit remixes several favorites that are now sadly sold out (but I'm hopeful Ann taylor will bring back those bow pumps for a third time!). My ASOS skirt is from last year, but here's another pencil skirt option in floral on super sale that has a similar pastel color scheme.
cute summer work outfits seersucker floral lace skirt

This gorgeous skirt out of Karen's closet combines so many details that I adore! Unfortunately small sizes just sold out online, but maybe try your luck at local Macys' stores. 
what to wear to work professional business outfits for petite women

I ordered this Express tee last month and was disappointed in how sheer the white fabric was (not as much of an issue with the other colors). I ended up keeping it because I did like how lightweight and comfy it was in the summer heat, but wear a skin-toned bra or nude cami underneath. It's basically just a soft tee shirt that's elevated with double ruffle sleeves.

Are you guys tired of these “paper bag” skirts yet? I've been reaching for them at least once a week, so expect to see a few more re-styled appearances. I reviewed the chambray version back in this post - do read if you haven’t, since I shrunk mine down to fit. If you’re like me and can legit look 3 months pregnant after lunch, then these adjustable, gathered waists are a godsend compared to non-stretch pencil skirts!

46 comments:

  1. Loving all the outfits, seriously. They're really work appropriate and I really want to try channelling the girlier side of me with these items!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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  2. Love these work outfit ideas! They're all so chic :)

    Enclothed Cognition

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  3. Love these styling ideas, especially because they're classic pieces most of us already own so I can probably shop my own closet.

    Also love the shoes! Do you have any tips to help with heel slippage, especially for high heels or wedges with pointed toes? I'm a smaller size 5 (slightly wide feet), but even when the shoes fit perfect while standing, my heels tend to slip out when I walk. I've tried most of the inserts at chain drugstores and none have worked well. Do you have any recs for inserts or other tips? I can't even wear those super comfortable Cole Haan low wedges because of this problem.

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    1. I have the same problem with my heels slipping out of heels. I so admire women who can walk in them comfortably! I'd appreciate any tips as well!

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    2. Have you tried the heel grips (I believe they are called Heavenly Heelz) from Foot Petals? Those are the ones that have worked the best for me so far.

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    3. Hi ladies - have you tried the hairspray trick? (also mentioned by someone further down). I've heard that one a few times, although I haven't tried it myself since I haven't had the slippage problem in a while!

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  4. Nice pics ;)

    www.evdaily.blogspot.com

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  5. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

    www.gloryofthesnow.com

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  6. I love the pants in the first photo and the ASOS skirt! Your style is so sophisticated and smart, I love it! xox

    withlovefromamber.blogspot.co.uk

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  7. I love how all the outfits fit your frame! Great looks!
    Be sure to check out my latest blog post!
    x. kritsida
    http://aperfectcanvas.net/

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  8. I use hair spray and just spray some in the the bottom of my feet to help them not slip. And in those problem areas where friction may occur. You just want to do a light spray and let it dry before you slip your feet into your heels.

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    1. Glad to hear that tip works!! Thanks for sharing from your experience

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  9. Ah, I love love love the bow top <3 And yes to the first outfit.

    http://www.ticketforadventure.com

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  10. Jean, do you think the MB heels are true to size, runs small or large? I own a pair of MB Hangisi which are true to size, but fitment of designer shoes are always different when the style is different even under the same brand. :(

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    1. Hi - I totally understand your frustration! I wish there was more consistency. I've sometimes read to size up with the BB pumps, but I did and they were too big for me. I'm between size 5 and 5.5 with US brands and found a 5/35 to be a good fit with the nude BB pumps.

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  11. Love the outfits. I think you love scallop details as much as I do, if not more ;) You and your cousin are adorable btw!

    XOXO //
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

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  12. Thanks Jean, was about to write and beg you to post more work-friendly outfits as I'm in desperate need of inspiration

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    1. I've been feeling the same way, Emily! Been re-wearing the same few pieces (as you can tell in this post, ha) so am looking forward to branching out to some new silhouettes and color schemes.

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  13. I love your outfits Jean! They always look so gorgeous!

    I hope you have a lovely Friday,
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.co.uk

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  14. All of these looks are so cute! X
    http://www.thoughtsinstyle.com/

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  15. Always love workwear recommendations! Thanks so much for writing them! My favorite from this post is the last outfit. The tee looks like it would keep me cool on my walk in to work, and an adjustable waist skirt is always a good thing! ;)

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    1. Thank you, Erin! Yes that tee may be slightly sheer, but on the upside, it's definitely breezy for hot summer days!

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  16. Gorgeous picks, as always! Those pants are amazing!
    xo, Caitlin
    http://thesolcompass.com

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  17. So many chic looks! Love all of these tailored outfits. Have a great weekend!

    -Jessi
    https://www.thedarlingdetail.com/

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  18. Love the pants!
    Any chance you could do a post on clutches/small evening bags? I'm struggling with finding bags to wear with more formal dresses for weddings and night-time events

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    1. I can take a look .. what's your budget and what materials are you looking for?

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  19. Love your picks, so cute and professional!

    O Blog da Mary
    https://oblogdamary.wordpress.com/

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  20. Hi Jean - not sure if my previous post went through. I am leaving for London next Wed and would love your rule-of-thumb suggestions for what to wear out at night. My man recently sold his company, which had an office there, so it will be theater, out for drinks and fine dining primarily. I think I have day time covered for sightseeing, with items that can be transitioned to casual evenings with heels, and my black BlankNYC faux leather jacket is coming with me! Any advice would be most welcome! :) Gwen K.

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    1. Hi Gwen - how fun!! Congrats to your guy! London is so pretty this time of the year. Every time I go I feel like the locals wear a lot of black, khaki, and subdued colors, so if you have a little black dress that transitions well, I'd bring that. I also love a nice black or white jumpsuit for evening wear, if you own one!

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  21. Are those Halogen pumps comfortable? I haven't seen a lot of posts of you wearing them so I'm wondering if maybe they aren't the most comfy!

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    1. Hi Kate - they are very comfy! You're right, for some reason they haven't made it much to blog posts, actually worn on my feet. I've worn them a few times in Instagram story snaps though or occasional posts like this one ! https://www.instagram.com/p/BTaLMJPAR8I/

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  22. Just curious, did you quit your corporate job?

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    1. Hi Chloe - I left my corporate job a while ago to join a retail startup, before finally working for myself (which has been a goal of mine!).

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    2. That's so cool! Big congratulations. I was exploring a business ideal in fashion retail and wanted to see if you would be interested to hear about it.

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  23. I would say that these outfits are really only appropriate for a "casual" workplace. They would not really be appropriate for a professional woman.

    Though I understand that you don't work in an office, I would not think it odd in the slightest if you styled real workwear. Fit is a challenge for petite working women, and you know a lot about it. I would trust your judgment even if I knew you might not need to wear an outfit yourself.

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    1. Hi there - thank you for your feedback! I appreciate it. You're right in that these looks are not for someone in a more formal professional field such as finance or law. They are more business casual based on what I saw women wear at my former offices, however I always suggest covering the shoulders with an extra layer like a cardigan or blazer in any workplace. I will definitely consider posting more business formal looks given your feedback!

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  24. I love all these pieces. That maison Jules skirt and the bow pants are so perfect.
    Julia・Little Miss Haute Couture

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  25. I have those same Ann Taylor pants, but when I wear them for a few hours they become very baggy. Does that happen to you? Do you have any recommendations of pant brands that doesn't happen to?

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    1. Hi - do you mean the skinny Ann Taylor pants that my cousin is wearing or the wider leg ones? If you mean the skinny, then yes unfortunately I keep hearing they do stretch out, like with many other brands. I wear BR sloan pants religiously and pop them into the machine washer and dryer if I need to bring them back down to size.

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    2. Yes, the skinny Ann Taylor pants your cousin is wearing. Thanks for the recommendation, I will try the BR sloan pants next! :)

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  26. Thanks for all the summer work outfit inspiration, Jean! I agree with you about looking and dressing the part! It's great you now have your cousin in town to cook and swap clothes with!

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  27. Ah ha! I did actually just bought two "paper bag" items lately, one was a pencil skirt and one was actually a dress with a knot on the waist. I love them a lot as it helps you define your body shape much better.

    Oh and you forgot to mention a light cardigan or blazer for the freezing ACs most of our corporate offices have during summer :P

    Julia || Closet de Jules || Recent Post - First day in Honolulu

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  28. i love the look this pants are so beautiful
    The Pink Pineapple
    New post:http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com/

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  29. Hi Jean,

    Do you know the measurements of Karen's Maison Jules seersucker skirt? How was the fit on you?

    Thanks!

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  30. These are great pieces for a business casual setting like my job. I especially love that skirt in the last picture! So cute!

    https://officiallychic.com/

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  31. These look really great for business casual workplaces! Was wondering if you would consider a post for interviewing--not just for jobs, but for schools or positions. I'm a medical student with residency interviews coming up, and given that they're generally very traditional/formal, I would be interested to see if you had any tips for styling or any pointers for where to find good suits (that won't make a loan-dependent student too sad ahah).

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