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, 22 cool-girl workwear essentials worth stocking up on, even if you're only on an assistant's budget.
Take it from us: The moto jacket is the ultimate cool-girl work essential. It’s not quite as formal as a blazer, but it still gets the job done.
Stella McCartney, $985
Denim is a classic staple, fit for practically any work environment. Business casual has so many variations these days anyways, but a sophisticated look like this one is definitely part of the vocabulary.
Steve Madden, $79
When you don't want to deal with switching out your shoes on the commute.
A jumpsuit for the creative types who love a good wide leg. If you're not really the type to wear jumpsuits, try a dress equivalent in the classic shirtdress.
A non-schlubby t-shirt dress that you'll be thankful for come summer.
Nicholas Kirkwood, $475
An extra comfortable pair of leather flats that you can simply slip on and go.
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 checkered V-neck option.
A shoe in a timeless sling-back style looks especially good with cropped trousers and still looks fresh with tights in cold weather.
If you want to shop navy trousers that won't make you feel like a total office drone, look for a pair of non-starchy options like these stylish high-waisted ones.
You'll get plenty of mileage out of these clean white oxfords that go with everything (and won't slow down your commute).
Kit and Ace, $78
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.
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.
A fitted bomber jacket that won't feel too trendy to wear again and again.
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.
A very Kiera Knightley-esque pair of cropped men's-style trousers with flattering darting up the sides.
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.
& Other Stories, $235
The answer to boring work totes: a chic Céline-worthy lady bag with sleek hardware details.
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.
A breezy top with flowery draping details is a pretty work staple to layer with everything else.
A reliable tote bag to handle your laptop, your lunch, and anything else you can think to cram in there.
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 ton.
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.