Dear Commandress – How Do I Put Together a Working Woman’s Wardrobe Quickly?

Commandress answers readers’ most vexing fashion & style questions.

Today’s Commandress post addresses a very timely reader question about work wardrobe essentials.

Bigwigs from corporate headquarters are visiting our branch office for a week this summer. Technically, our dress code is business casual, but we just wear jeans and t-shirts every day. Help! I need to update my work wardrobe fast.

Commandress recommends a blazer, five tops, two bottoms, and one or two pair of dress shoes to see you through the bigwigs’ visit. Because your office is business casual, you are also more likely to continue wearing separates to work (rather than formal suiting) after your visitors leave.

We’ve recently profiled women’s blazers for work and comfortable professional work shoes, so today’s post focuses on work tops for the office, slacks and a skirt.

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Select five work tops that can become updated staples in your work wardrobe. The tops curated here will coordinate with neutral slacks or skirts (like the ones profiled later in this post).

Five Professional Women’s Tops

Land’s End’s Long Sleeve No Iron Shirt in Blue Wide Stripe is easy to care for and timeless ($49-59). It is available in ten styles in Regular, Petite, Tall and Plus. You can shop for more Lands’ End wear to work tops here.

Womens Work Tops for Office

NYDJ’s Fit Solution Wrap Front Blouse in Petal in Regular & Petite from Nordstrom is a pretty and more contemporary top (on sale for $58.80; originally $98).

Womens work tops for office

Ann Taylor’s Silk Ruffle Front Blouse comes in Blissful Blue and three other colors. ($98; right now you can save 40% Off at Checkout). You can shop for more Ann Taylor work tops here.

Tip: if you like a top and the colors it comes in, buy more than one to make things easy on yourself!

Womens Work Tops for Office

I really like this Zigzag Print Envelope-Shoulder Top in Ecru Canyon in Misses, Petites and Womens from Talbots (on sale for $45.15; regularly $64.50).

Deal Alert – right now all Talbots Womens Tops are 30% Off  – including Work Tops

Womens Work Tops for Office

Calvin Klein’s Non Iron Top with Collar in Light Blue is styled to be worn untucked ($69.50 from Zappos).

Womens Work Tops for Office

One more option is a comfortable, classic and professional Eileen Fisher knit top profiled in a post earlier this spring.

Update Your Professional Slacks & Skirts

As for bottoms, stick to basics. One pair of pants and one skirt will see you through the bigwigs’ visit.

Nordstrom’s Halogen brand is a well-made, well-priced option. Halogen’s Taylor Impulse Pants in Gray/White Pattern are ideal business casual slacks ($88 in Regular or Petite).

Womens Work Pants for Office

Halogen’s Seamed Pencil Skirt in Black falls just below the knee and is just the right length for the office ($69 in Regular or Petite).Womens Wear to Work Skirt

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Talbots Wave Matelasse Jacket & Sheath Dress

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about.

Is your office wardrobe ready for the summer heat? If you need something new, I love the cool and airy look of this new brocade suiting from Talbots (shown here in Soft Champagne and Sea Lily).

Both the jacket and the dress have also received great reviews!

Talbots Wave Matelasse Shawl-Collar Jacket - professional fashion - office style - summer work outfit - business casual blazer #commandress

Talbots Wave Matelasse Sheath Dress - professional dress - office style - summer work outfit - light pink dress #commandress

The jacket is a fantastic business casual separate and the dress is particularly well-suited for formal offices.

Although I probably wouldn’t pair a pink jacket with a pink dress at work, one of these items would also be a fun way to mix in a pretty and feminine color with your office neutrals.

The Talbots Wave Matelasse Shawl-Collar Jacket ($169-$189 in six colors) and Talbots Wave Matelasse Dress ($159-$179 in five colors) are available in Misses, Petites, Woman and Woman Petites.

Here’s a look at the plus jacket and dress in Soft Champagne.

Talbots Woman Wave Matelasse Shawl-Collar Jacket & Sheath Dress - professional plus size fashion - plus size office style - summer work outfit - business casual blazer #commandress

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It’s a different texture, but I also love the washable (!!!) Talbots Peony Matelasse Pencil Skirt, which is available in four colors and in Misses, Petites and Women ($119-$139).

Talbots Peony Matelasse Pencil Skirt - professional fashion - office style - summer work outfit - business casual skirt #commandress

Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links.

Smart, Chic and Made in USA – Choose How You Wear This Vivacious Poppy Print – Commandress

Whether it is a skirt, shift, sheath, maxi dress, romper, or coat, there is a poppy print style to suit your taste.

There is nothing like a beautiful floral print to make a piece of clothing special and perfect for special events. This year, my eyes landed on Trina Turk’s Julietta Print Stretch Cotton Sheath Dress. I love everything about it from its sweetheart neckline to its band-inset waist. The perforated skirt and partially sheer hem add trendy detail to an otherwise classic silhouette.

Floral Sheath Print Floral Dress Made in USA

I especially love the vivacious poppy print. Perhaps, Trina Turk’s abstract poppy print was inspired by the sea of poppies surrounding the Tower of London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I.  Regardless, it is beautiful.

Do you love the print too? It is available in six different items, all made in the USA.

The Julietta Print Stretch Cotton Sheath Dress is available at Nordstrom in 10 or 12 or at Neiman Marcus in 12. (Sale: $202.80, Original: $338) If you love this dress, but you either wear another size or do not see yourself wearing it more than once rent it! ($60, Rent The Runway)

Summer Floral Dress Women's Floral Sheath Dress Made in USA

The sleeveless Felana Print Jersey Shift Dress is precious! (Available in 2, 6, 8, 10 & 12 Sale: $148.80, Original: $248, Nieman Marcus; or in 0, 2, 4, 8 & 12, Sale: $248, Original $354.29, Saks Fifth Avenue)

Womens Floral Dress Summer Shift Dress Made in USA

If I had seen the Floral Print Perforated Party Skirt before the sheath, it may have been my purchase. (Available in 00, 6, 8 & 10, Sale: $178, Original: $298, Neiman Marcus)

Summer Floral Skirt Made in USA Print Floral Skirt

A few weeks ago I saw a woman wearing the Short-Sleeve V-Neck Jumpsuit/Romper. It looked great on her.  (Available in 10 & 12, Sale: $202, Original: $338, Neiman Marcus)

Womens Floral Jumpsuit Romper Made in USA

The Print Jersey Maxi Dress looks so comfortable. (Available in 0, 4, 6 & 8, $328, Nordstrom)

Floral Dress Long Print Floral Maxi Dress Made in USA

Should you invest in this exquisite Lee Floral Print Coat, you will find excuses to wear it everywhere. ($598, Nordstrom)

Print Floral Spring Coat Made in USA

Top photo by Abigail Politzer. Full disclosure regarding my shoes: my red patent leather peep-toe sling back pumps are by Kellie & Katie from DSW. These red pumps below are the closest match I can find online and they are Dolce & Gabbana. Nice, right? If you would rather the pumps I’m wearing that cost about $50.00, visit your nearby DSW. ($613.54,

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.