How to get away with casual clothes in the office

The key to nailing the casual office look can be as simple as elevating your footwear, like Kendall Jenner.

The key to nailing the casual office look can be as simple as elevating your footwear, like Kendall Jenner.Credit:WENN

Whenever you get a new boss, as I did recently, there are certain things you have to feel out in the first few days. Do they watch the clock? Are they interested in "this fashion stuff"? And do they share my sick sense of humour? (Answers: No, yes and definitely.)

As it was, the first day my new boss and I shared desk space was in the midst of the Julie Bishop "red shoe" fracas. In deference to "the cause", I arrived wearing a pair of red drawstring pants that I purchased from Zara for the tidy sum of $40.

My editor marvelled at how "smart" and "trendy" I looked, upon which I admitted that essentially I was wearing glorified track pants, a T-shirt, blazer and white ankle boots. Now that I think about it, it's a look that has become something of my trans-seasonal uniform.

In the spirit of Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle, my editor exclaimed: "But it's what you do with them, love!"

This got me thinking about office dress standards and how it's easy to elevate even the most "basic" items if you know a few tricks.

Trick 1: own a good jacket

If red lipstick can hide a thousand sins from the night before on your face, then a well-cut blazer can do the same for the most casual of outfits.

Look for something double-breasted, in a boucle or twill fabric for extra polish. If you're planning to wear slightly baggy pants, a more fitted jacket is advised. And if you prefer a fitted pant, almost a capri style, then a man-style or boyfriend blazer will balance the proportions nicely.

If red lipstick can hide a thousand sins from the night before … then a well-cut blazer can do the same for the most casual of outfits.

Trick 2: tuck it in

At school, we were constantly being told off by teachers to tuck in our shirts, and for good reason. A quick tuck of a T-shirt instantly elevates it from sloppy to meeting ready. Just make sure that it doesn't include any slogans or images that will upset the boss.

Another note on T-shirts I have written previously: work T-shirts must not have rips, holes, wonky necklines (usually the result of over-washing and therefore age) or stains.

Trick 3: go bold

A drawstring pant in a bold colour, such as my red babies, will look more dressy than, say, a print (too beachy) or black (picks up dirt easily). Cobalt blue and pea green are also great choices for this season and look great when paired back with a white or grey T-shirt and a black or white jacket.

In terms of fabric, find a pant that is in a crepe or silk for added panache. Leave the cotton pants for holidays and lounging around the house.

Trick 4: feet first

Choosing the right footwear is probably the most significant key to nailing mixed-casual at work. My rule of thumb is the dressier the outfit, the opposite the shoe ought to be. For example, if you're wearing a sparkly pleated skirt and T-shirt, a sneaker is absolutely fine. Reverse that for drawstring pants by choosing a kitten heel, ankle boot or strappy sandal if it's hot.

Get the look

Camilla and Marc at Order of Style, $850

Camilla and Marc at Order of Style, $850

Trelise Cooper, $329

Trelise Cooper, $329

Sussan, $90

Sussan, $90

Nicholas Kirkwood at Mytheresa.com, $605

Nicholas Kirkwood at Mytheresa.com, $605

Vero Moda, $35

Vero Moda, $35

Stockists

Order of Style: orderofstyle.com

MyTheresa: mytheresa.com

Sussan: sussan.com.au

Vero Moda: veromoda.com

Trelise Cooper: trelisecooperonline.com

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