Workwear: 4 Ways to Top Off Your Business Casual Outfit

work wear professional outfit ideas petite fashion blog

Loft tee (old; similar // similar), similar crop cardigan, H&M skirt sz 2 (similar skirt that runs small & fits perfectly), Sole Society heels (old; similar w/ low block heel), Prada double bag (my review), classy girls bracelet (adjustable for small wrists)

Dressing for work in the summer here requires prepping for two scenarios: 1. melting into a human puddle of sweat during your outdoor commute. 2. plunging into a frigid office with the AC blasting so high, it feels like a walk-in freezer.

prada double bag work purse office style

Foundation outfit

One of my go-to “foundation” pairings for summer days is simply a skirt with a sleeveless top tucked in. A patterned cotton / linen tee like this one is breezy and camouflages unsightly sweat stains (all too much a reality when shlepping a 10lb laptop tote in the 90 degree heat) better than silk or delicate fabrics.

business casual pencil skirt outfit extra petite blog
See how else I’ve styled this floral tee over the years: here with a pleated skirt, here with colorful pants, and here in a video on how to improve basic outfits! Below are a few similarly versatile floral tees that are currently available – the LOFT ones (options #2 and #4) are 40% off right now!

Finishing layers

Before running out the door, though, don’t forget to grab an extra layer for the icebox / cubicle (also to keep your shoulders appropriately covered in a professional setting). To make getting dressed in the morning quick and mindless, here are 4 finishing layer options in my regular rotation:

1. Cropped Cardigan
It’s no secret I love these for pairing with dresses and high-waisted bottoms! The shorter length shows off the narrowest part of your torso, which might otherwise be covered by a longer layer. My sweater here is very old, but I also love these Modcloth cropped cardigansย and own a few different colors in size xs regular!

colorful professional outfit pencil skirt petite

2. Cozy Wrap
This fleece wrapย is perfect for keeping at your desk year-round. The angled, draped front is flattering with both high and low-rise bottoms alike. For fit reference, it’s listed to run big but I didn’t find that to be the case! Mine is my usual size xxs petite, and I likely could’ve sized up.


3. Blazer
Under a business formal dress code, a jacket or blazer of some sort is required. Consistent with the cardigan theme above, I look for shrunken-fit or cropped styles that nip in at the waist to really highlight that area. Mine’s several years old from H&M, but you can find similar styles in petite-friendly sizes here:


4. Button-up Shirt
For a less formal setting, I love the casual chic look of a shirt tied around the waist, and it doubles as an extra layer when you need it. Mine is old from J.Crew (shop very similar at an affordable price!).

Which of these finished looks is your favorite?

work wear office outfit ideas by extra petite fashion blog

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  1. Chris wrote:

    It looks like the modcloth cropped cardigan is a few inches shorter than it used to be. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives?

    Posted 9.22.17 Reply
  2. Lienne wrote:

    Hi Jean, I love this post! I work at a bank so business casual is a must. I have a very petite frame, so many H&M pieces don’t quite fit right. What are your thoughts on H&M sizes for pencil skirts like this post? Did you need to alter it in any way? Thanks!

    Posted 8.14.17 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Lienne! H&M pencil skirts in my opinion run smaller than most workwear brands like Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. An H&M size 2 here is a pretty great fit on me without alterations! They just don’t have a lot of fabric or print choices for workwear (the material on this skirt is a little wrinkle-prone), which is why I often still prefer to spend more at AT for their pencil skirts and just get the waist altered.

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  3. Cam Nguyen wrote:

    This is very helpful. Thank you.

    Posted 8.13.17 Reply
  4. Sara wrote:

    I love this post, please do more like this! I have the situation of hot outside/cold inside all the time. Would love to see more posts that address this. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Posted 8.13.17 Reply
  5. Sara Baca wrote:

    I love this post, please do more like this! I have the situation of hot outside/cold inside all the time. Would love to see more posts that address this. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Posted 8.13.17 Reply
  6. Mizeats wrote:

    Love these work outfit pairings, Jean! They are structured but not restricting. I really love the look with the blazer!!

    Posted 8.12.17 Reply
  7. I love this top!
    JuliaใƒปLittle Miss Haute Couture

    Posted 8.12.17 Reply
  8. Loved the different biz casual looks!

    Made in Mauve โ˜† Instagram

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  9. Joules wrote:

    I’m loving all four ways you styled this look! The chambray shirt might be my fav!

    Style by Joules

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  10. Nicolette wrote:

    I love the effect that the button-up has on the outfit! It’s also very slimming. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nicolette |

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  11. May wrote:

    Love the mustard cropped cardigan. Gives the illusion that your lower body is longer, thus making petite girls looking leaner and taller!


    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  12. BigBossLady wrote:

    THANK YOU so much for publishing a post on work clothes! I don’t begrudge you wanting to monetize your blog, but there are SO many sponsored lifestyle posts now, and I love this blog for its inspiration on what to wear to work. More of this, please!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  13. PetitesPlease wrote:

    Advice needed re: cozy wrap. I’m 5’2″ and under 100lbs – but most of my shortness is in my legs – and my arms are long for my body. So petite (or girls’) sizes sometimes don’t work for me because the sleeves are too short or tight. But regular sizes are shapeless on my chest & torso. Anyone who has the wrap (which I’ve been covetting), should I go petite & one size up or ref xs? Halp! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi there ~ I get the challenge of having petite body parts : ) Since the sleeves fit me pretty well and I have short arms, I would say go for the regular because I’ve tried Bobeau draped pieces in regular and honestly didn’t find them to be huge. Nordstrom does have free (and easy) return shipping though so it wouldn’t hurt to try two sizes to figure out the best fit!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  14. val wrote:

    I’ve been eyeballing that top from Loft ever since I first saw you wear it. The mustard cropped sweater is perfect with it too.

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  15. Tory wrote:

    Jean, the fleece wrap has a BIG button. Did you remove it?

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Tory – yes I did! I totally forgot about that since I’ve had the fleece for so long : )

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  16. Rachelle wrote:

    nailed it, skirts are my go-to as well for work during the summer.


    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  17. Kyle wrote:

    Love the chambray shirt look. How do you tie it up all cute and not bulky like that?

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Kyle! Chambray shirts aren’t created equal, and a thinner one would definitely work better for this look than a thicker denim-y one. I fold the excess length underneath and then do a double tie in the front, securing it by buttoning one button near the center of the knot.

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  18. Elizabeth wrote:

    Loving all of these super chic work outfits <3 ๐Ÿ™‚ So pretty, especially the one with the blazer (my personal favorite)!

    XO, Elizabeth

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  19. Kay Nguyen wrote:

    Lovely looks, love all of them, espeically with the yellow cardigan! Your style is on point <3

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  20. Simone wrote:

    I absolutely love the cropped sweater and blazer look!!! Thank you for the office wear recommendations!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  21. Ngoc wrote:

    Do you have a link for the skirt?

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Ngoc – unfortunately I couldn’t find this particular one online, but there were a lot at my local store so maybe try your luck locally if you have an H&M!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  22. Loving the work outfit business casual look! Lovely picks!

    XOXO //
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  23. I really like the mustard crop cardigan you’re wearing! It’s such a cute look, especially for summer!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Posted 8.9.17 Reply
  24. That fleece wrap looks so cosy and stylish at the same time. I love how you’ve styled the denim button up too, it looks gorgeous with that white skirt!

    Sarah Lilly || The Lilly Mint Blog

    Posted 8.9.17 Reply

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