No matter how impressive your résumé or what fancy degrees you’ve earned, finding where to buy the best work clothes can be a challenge as daunting as writing a few dozen cover letters.
Whether you’re a soon-to-be grad who doesn’t want to drop a couple hundred bucks on an interview outfit that you actually kind of hate or you’re about to make the move from a jeans-and-hoodies start-up to a business-casual corporate office and have spent more time stressing over the dress code than you have your new responsibilities—figuring out what to wear to work is a problem we all have.
Thank goodness it’s 2017 and brands are taking heed of our concerns. A new crop of start-ups has emerged in the workwear space in recent years, tackling the need for office-friendly attire with a millennial’s eye for comfort, aesthetics, and price. Some take cues from activewear, such as Los Angeles–based Aella, while others, such as MM.LaFleur, tailor the shopping experience to suit the busy career woman.
Click through the slideshow for a lowdown on the brands you need to know. Mercifully, it’s in neither Powerpoint nor Excel format.
Originally published April 2016. Updated March 2017.
This brand-new Aussie label, which launched earlier this month, is a godsend for nine-to-fivers on a budget. Among the Claire Underwood–esque sheath dresses, satin-trimmed blazers, and slim-cut skirts, little rings just more than $100 (though do keep in mind that international shipping rates apply). Plus, enter code STYLECASTER at checkout to get 15 percent off. And to do a little good with the money you save, you can donate to Dress for Success, a charity the brand has partnered with to provide skills training and interview attire to disadvantaged women.
Blazer Cape with Contrast Satin Label, $189.95; at Aris
Halter Dress, $169.95; at Aris
Front-Fold Culottes, $114.95; at Aris
While this London-based line is fully fashion-girl approved, most of the minimalist, quietly sophisticated pieces will go over just as well with the corporate crowd. Designer Laura Myers is a whiz with shirting (her muse is Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy), and with a bit of strategic layering, her slip dresses can be worn straight from work into the weekend. Collections are meant to be worn season after season, blending seamlessly with the rest of your wardrobe—because who needs any more weekday stress?
When you're used to living in jeans and yoga pants, buying a pair of office-appropriate trousers for an interview or a new job can be a truly unpleasant experience. Somehow, everything out there seems either uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or expensive (or all three)—but not Aella. The startup is out to redefine workwear with modern-looking, suiting-style separates that are machine-washable, fade- and wrinkle-resistant, and comfortable enough to please the athleisure crowd. One of my fellow editors raves about the high-waist flare—and who's to argue when it fits like a glove and brings out your inner boss lady?
Cigarette Pants, $190; at Aella
High-Waist Culotte, $215; at Aella
Convertible Duster, $275; at Aella
Kit + Ace
While it's known for its technical cashmere—a machine-washable performance take on the luxury fabric—the Vancouver-based brand is also a great go-to for less stuffy versions of office staples. Button-down shirts, for instance, feature rose-gold buttons, while a piece that looks like high-waist pants and a blousy black tank is sneakily an all-in-one.
Kit + Ace
For those who buy their glasses from Warby Parker, order their groceries on FreshDirect, take an Uber to work every day, and aren't exactly keen on spending their Saturdays trolling for pencil skirts for the office, MM.LaFleur may be your new one-stop shop. The three-year-old brand offers "Bento Boxes" filled with individualized pieces, which are shipped to your home to try on and, hopefully, buy. While by now the at-home try-on service isn't entirely novel, the fit and quality are the real selling points. Designed by Zac Posen alum Miyako Nakamura, the pieces manage to infuse work basics like shift dresses and solid-colored shell tops with subtle fashiony details and flattering cuts.