It's tempting, when facing the perpetual what-the-hell-do-I-wear-to-work conundrum, to just throw your hands in the air, head to your nearest J.Crew, and buy one of everything. But any seasoned office drone (*winks*) knows you only really need a slim selection of items in order to truly master "business-casual" attire. Ahead, 20 cool-girl workwear essentials worth stocking up on, even if you're only on an assistant's budget.

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The Cover-Up

An ideal sleeveless vest for warmer days that's like a trench without the arms: wrap it over a dress for an added layer of warmth and style. 

Soft Fabric Vest, $40; mango.com.

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The Goes-With-Everything Jacket

A fitted bomber jacket that won't feel too trendy to wear again and again. 

Wilfred Poussin Bomber, $198; us.aritzia.com.

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The Shirt Dress or Jumpsuit

A very Leandra Medine-esque jumpsuit for the creative types who loves a good wide leg. If you're not really the type to wear jumpsuits, try a dress equivalent in the classic shirtdress. 

Wide-Leg Jumpsuit in Shirting Stripe, $138; jcrew.com.

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The Tunic Dress

A versatile dress that still covers up your arms (for more conservative office environments) and is easy enough to slip on with a pair of heels and be ready for your commute. 

Polly V Neck Dress, $230; whistles.com.

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The Tee-Shirt/Shift Dress

A non-schlubby tee-shirt dress that you'll be thankful for come summer. 

Rib Belted Midi Dress, $55; topshop.com.

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The Button-Up Shirt

A crisp white shirt will never go out of style. If you work in an extra creative office environment, you can get away with layering it under a camisole with culottes or a spaghetti strap dress à la Kendall Jenner. 

Premium Cotton Shirt, $50; hm.com.

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The Cotton Top

When the average button-up shirting options all start looking the same, it never hurts to break it up with something fun but still work-appropriate. Case in point: this ruffled V-neck option. 

Frilled V-Neck Blouse, $30; zara.com.

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The Silk Top

A breezy top with flowery draping details  is a pretty work staple to layer with everything else. 

Petal Drape Blouse, $99; cosstores.com.

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The Midi Skirt

Midi skirts are the Goldilocks of skirt lengths that make dressing easy. This one's exceptionally styled, with gold heart details and a flattering wrap waist. Wear it with a classic dress shirt or a sweater and look instantly pulled-together. 

Anchro Button Detail Wrap Skirt, $139; needsupply.com.

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The Pencil Skirt

A high-waisted pencil skirt that won't feel like it's constricting your movement. This one's extra stretchy and comfortable, but still looks tailored to a tee.

Long and Lean Pencil Skirt, $108; kitandace.com.

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The Cropped Pant

A very Kiera Knightley-esque pair of cropped men's-style trousers with flattering darting up the sides. 

Checked Trousers with Darts, $50; zara.com.

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The Black Trouser

If you want to shop black trousers that won't make you feel like a total office drone, look for a pair of non-starchy flared options like these with stylish ribbed details. 

Ribbed Trousers, $50; zara.com.

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The Lady Bag

The answer to boring work totes: a chic Céline-worthy lady bag with sleek hardware details. 

Leather Lady Bag, $145; stories.com.

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The Tote Bag

A reliable tote bag to handle your laptop, your lunch, and anything else you can think to cram in there. 

Auxiliary Eckout Tote, $350; aritzia.com.

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The Shoulder Bag

A no-frills shoulder bag with only enough room for the essentials is a perfect choice for  when you're running between events and don't want to carry a load.  

Francis Shoulder Bag, $68; needsupply.com.

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Loafers

You'll get plenty of mileage out of these clean white oxfords that go with everything (and won't slow down your commute). 

'Elinor' Loafer in Vintage Canvas, $158; madewell.com.

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Flats

An extra-comfortable pair of leather flats that you can simply slip on an go. 

Tibi Cecil Calf Mules, $210; needsupply.com.

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Sling-Backs

A shoe in a timeless sling-back style looks especially good with cropped trousers and still looks fresh with tights in cold weather. 

Eliza Suede Round Toe Pumps, $138; anntaylor.com.

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Low-Heeled Sandals

The low-heeled sandal lightens your load so all you have to worry about is a fresh pedicure. 

Vera Ruffle Slide Sandal, $325; loefflerrandall.com.

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Pumps

A workwear essential (even if you never wear heels) for interviews and special events that require a stricter dress code. This one comes in a chic scalloped design that will pop against any ensemble. 

Suede Point-Toe Shoes, $285; reiss.com.

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