Posted on: June 6, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

Casual and polished can coexist at work — you can definitely look put-together when you’re not dressed up. Readers had a great comment thread recently on how to look polished in a casual office, and today we’re rounding up their best advice. Your clothes, accessories, hair, makeup, and nails can all work together to create a polished overall impression.

Readers, we’d love to hear your tips! If you work in a casual office, what do you do to look polished?

{related: what to wear to a big meeting at a casual office}

How to Look Polished in a Casual Office: Reader Advice

What Does Polished Look Like?

One reader described having a polished appearance as “wearing clothes that fit you easily and convey authority, having hair that’s well-maintained and behaves, and having good skin.” (Some of those are easier to control than others, of course!)

In our post on making an outfit look put-together, we mentioned showing confidence, being mindful of clothing proportions, and adding a bit of your personality to your outfits.

{related: reader mail: what to wear at a very casual office}

Tips for Clothing: What to Wear to a Casual Office

Try a monochrome outfit: One reader noted, “A column of color or black will look more put-together than various colors.” It also requires less brain power to choose an outfit on a hectic morning!

Wear a silk (or silk-like) blouse: As one commenter pointed out, “I find people respond really viscerally to expensive silk blouses. They don’t cling and work even on days when I feel puffy or uncomfortable.” Readers had TONS of recs for where to find blouses like these, which pair well with jeans: Antonio Melani at Dillard’s, Elie Tahari, St. John, Emerson Fry, Alice + Olivia, Theory (Fitted Shirt in Silk Georgette, specifically), Lafayette 148 New York, and Equipment.

{related: we did a recent Hunt for stylish blouses for work}

Another couple of reader suggestions for specific pieces: a luxury coat and dark wash, trouser-style jeans. A couple of splurge-y outerwear recs from us: Fleurette and Cinzia Rocca.

Replace your clothes when they start to wear out. As one reader put it, “A slightly stretched out or faded piece of clothing seems like no big deal in your closet but looks shabbier when it’s on you.”

Pilling on your clothing, for example, doesn’t give a good impression and can be easy for others to spot. If replacing your pilled pieces isn’t in your budget right now, a fabric shaver can do the trick!

{related: I can’t wear a suit but want to show authority}

Get your clothing tailored: There can be a huge difference between a piece that has been tailored to your body and something that’s just off the rack. Of course, higher-quality brands have better tailoring from the start.

Tips for Accessories for Casual Offices

Readers had several recommendations for shoes that make an outfit look polished: Stylish flats, work-appropriate sneakers, loafers, oxfords, and pointed-toe, low block heels (for example, from LK Bennett) (see some of our favorites below).

Wear stylish jewelry: One reader shared, “I always wear real, fine-quality gems and gold to work. Nothing remotely inappropriate about it and it naturally adds a lot of polish.”

Carry a luxury bag: This can easily elevate a run-of-the-mill outfit. We’ve had a few conversations about designer bags over the years, including whether you HAVE to have a designer bag as a lawyer, whether you should carry a luxury bag if your boss doesn’t, and designer bags and budgets.

As of 2024, some of our latest favorite luxury work bags (large enough to hold papers and a laptop!) include Bottega Veneta, Mulberry, Saint Laurent, Kaai, and Demellier. Of course, note that a lot of our readers who are in big jobs note that they love their (more affordable) Lo & Sons bags, as well as their Tumi.

Bottega Veneta


Saint Laurent (exact)


Looking for work backpacks to splurge on? Montblanc, MCM and Senreve are great, and readers are always huge fans of all things Tumi. Some of our favorites…




Tumi (exact)

{related: what are the lower limits of business casual?}

Tips for Hair, Nails, and Makeup

Keep your nails in good shape: Ragged cuticles, for example, don’t give the best impression.

One reader noted, “If you can, keep regular manicure appointments. Sometimes, on my most down days, seeing my nails, shaped and polished makes me feel like a professional even if I am not sure the rest of me is signaling that.”

Take care of your hair: Readers suggested weekly hair masks (Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask is great!), keratin treatments, and Bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It for smoothing hair texture.

If your hair is curly, learn how to make it look its best. Check out our posts and look for curly-hair tutorials on TikTok.

Readers, how do you take care to look polished in your casual office? How much do you think it’s about your clothing choices themselves vs. your overall look?

Some of Our Latest Favorite Shoes for Work Outfits in Casual Offices

Some of the reader-favorite flats are pictured below — you may also want to check out sneaker flats and other commuting shoes for their comfort level, as well as investment flats if you’d like to splurge, strappy flats. foldable flats, and washable flats.


As of 2024, some of our favorite loafers for work are from Sam Edelman, Everlane, and Madewell. If you want something more classic, readers love Sperry and Ferragamo; if you want comfort, Vionic and Dr. Scholl’s both have options. Meanwhile, if you want something a bit more feminine or slouchy, the Tory Burch loafers are all really highly rated at Nordstrom (especially this “ballet loafer“)! (Tory Burch also makes a “rain loafer” if you do a lot of commuting in wet weather!)

Sam Edelman





Some of our favorite comfortable flats for work as of 2024: one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight (not pictured but also) (also: check out our favorite sneakers for work outfits!)

Investment Flats

Some of the longest-standing “investment ballet flats” ($300–$900) as of 2023: one / two / three / four / five

Strappy Flats

Stylish strappy flats can be hard to find! As of 2024, these are some of our favorites — also, in general, check J.Crew and Valentino (on the pricier side, obviously). Nordstrom also has a surprisingly large selection!


Eileen Fisher


Dream Pairs

Low Heels

These are some of our favorite comfortable low heels for work as of 2024… also check out CK Calvin Klein, Trotters, Sam Edelman, and Sarah Flint!


Anne Klein


Franco Sarto

Pointy Toe Shoes for Work

Some of our latest favorite pointy-toed shoes include these options (as of 2024):


Marc Fisher LTD


Stock photo via Pexels / Vinta Supply Co. NYC.

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