Modern Fall Basics for Professionals

structure with personality.

structure with personality.

Boo hoo, summer’s over. Back to work, back to school. Time to put away the flirty sundresses and beach-ready crop tops. But you don’t have to censor all the fun from your wardrobe. Amp up your basics this fall with modern twists on classic pieces fit for the corporate office, a creative workspace, and the classroom. To get more use out of your clothes, rotate basic tops with basic bottoms, or pair a simple shape with a funkier garment.

Invest in variations of a basic, such as a few long-sleeved sweaters here, and a few collared shirts there. Pretty soon, you’ll have plenty of appropriate, stylish options for work.


A friend in the corporate world recently complained about having to dress more formally for work. She previously worked as a financial analyst in the marketing division of the company, but the atmosphere was relaxed. People could wear nice jeans and be just fine.

After she was promoted and then assigned to give presentations to director-level executives in the company, she realized her outfits weren’t dressy enough. She wasn’t a pantsuit type of woman. Nor did she really wear dresses or skirts to the office. What was a girl to do?

Luckily, two work-appropriate trends have surfaced this fall: structured T-shirts and chic button-downs. Pair either top with a knee-length, textured skirt for a dressier look, and complete the look with a big, streamlined coat.

The structured T-shirt has a more tailored cut than your average band tee. Club Monaco’s gray T-shirt sports a black panel on the back, giving the top an angular, slimming look. Zara has a more affordable option that comes in navy blue, white and black. Small transparent cutouts add edge to the look, but they’re subtle enough to stay conservative.

The boring button-down also gets an updated, modern vibe. These delicate tops from J Brand and Portland brand Reif have transparent sleeves and small collars. Wear them under a sweater or blazer to hide the transparent parts. After work, let them stand on their alone as flirty blouses. Stay on the safer side with this Givenchy collared shirt, which has no pockets and no visible buttons down the front for maximum minimalism.


Professionals in creative industries clearly have more leeway in what they can wear to work. Dare to stretch fashion a little more, but still be taken seriously with eye-catching graphic prints and details. For example, the leather front panels on this Sandro wool coat give the understated color a soft edge.

For a spicier flavor, wear a loud pattern, such as this surrealist orange, black and white blouse from Stella Jean. The white collar keeps it prim. Wear patterned tops with neutral pants or a pencil skirt to keep the outfit from overwhelming your body. This black and white button-down also screams high fashion, and it’s easily matched with other items in your closet.

You can also accentuate your femininity with full, flared dresses that nip in at the waist. Look for subtle patterns such as this Alexander McQueen jacquard print dress, or shop for geometric prints, such as this Sandro dress. The convenience of buying a statement dress in a conservative shape is that you won’t have to add much else to the outfit. Maybe throw on black tights and low-heeled booties. And done, you’re ready for work.


Look smart and fresh-faced for class, whether you’re in undergrad, grad or trade school (any chefs out there?). Disguise any traces of having gone out the night before with comfy yet stylish basics. Wearing something put-together can help rejuvenate your whole attitude, even if you’re dead tired. It’s certainly better than looking like you rolled out of bed.

If you’re running late to class, wear an edgy sweater, such as this top from Acrimony in San Francisco, or try this deconstructed cocoon top. The roominess of the sleeves gives extra comfort, and the gray-and-royal blue color blocking keeps it from looking too simple. Wear them over dark skinny jeans to elevate the sophistication of your outfit. Throw on some flat oxford loafers or flat boots in this seasons go-to oxblood.

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