How To Upgrade Your Work Outfit For ZERO Dollars

PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
Give a working girl unlimited access to her favorite floor in a department store, and you can be sure she'll walk out of there looking like a boss. That's not a challenge. Meeting next week's aggressive deadline, getting an impossible client to see the light, and slaying last year's numbers two quarters ahead of schedule — now those are challenges. If you had the unlimited budget and unencumbered access that a lot of style primers assume you have, you wouldn't need those articles in the first place. In real life, with real parameters, and real resources, you're going to have to demand a little better.

We hear you — and when you're shopping your own closet for a new work look, you've got to be as creative as you are in the office. To really prove that you don't need to buy anything to give your outfits a promotion, we've given three typical 9-to-5 ensembles a do-more makeover, employing minor tweaks and fixes to make each one feel totally new.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
The Suit, Regular-Style
Even if you don't work in a super-corporate environment, it's always a good look to wear a suit to work. Dressing it down with oxfords and a fashion-forward blouse are good places to start, but it helps to think of buttons and sleeve lengths as suggestions, not musts.

Joseph suit, Nina Ricci turtleneck, & Other Stories shoes, Virzi + De Luca earrings, Bauble Bar ring.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
The Suit, Upgraded
To make the suit look more fashion-forward than courtroom-formal, start by unbuttoning those buttons. Yes, all of them — you already do this with your blazers, so play it just as loose with your suit jacket. Then, push the sleeves up to just below your elbows. If your pants are a slim fit, give them a cuff or fold to make sure your ankles are out. Tuck in your shirt to show off a slim belt.

Boyy bag, Topshop socks, J.Crew belt.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
The Pencil Skirt, Regular-Style
Your pencil skirt has been a staple of your workwear wardrobe for forever, and you've recently started wearing it with more casual staples, like graphic sweaters and fun pumps. But, with tights, the slimness of the skirt can end up making the entire outfit look a touch frowsy.

White & Warren sweater; Apiece Apart skirt; J.Crew tights, necklace, and bracelet; Stuart Weitzman shoes; Bauble Bar earrings; Mainsai ring and bracelet; & Other Stories ring.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
The Pencil Skirt, Upgraded
Save the skirt for days when it's warm enough to forgo your tights. With bare legs and nude pumps, the pencil skirt can look twice as professional and modern than if you darkened it all up with opaque tights. To highlight your waist, give your thin sweater a small tuck and roll up the sleeves.

Boyy bag, Nixon watch.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
Button-Up, Regular-Style
We've been preaching the gospel of the buttoned-all-the-way shirt for the past few years, but when paired with contemporary pieces, like culottes and oxfords, it can make for a stiff, stuffy vibe that isn't quite how you'd like to present yourself at work.

Jonathan Simkhai oxford, Topshop culottes, Meandher shoes, Bauble Bar earrings.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID CORTES.
Button-Up, Upgraded
To give it a more modern spin, employ a half-tuck on the oxford. (Remember: Tuck in the side with the layer that's closest to your body to avoid any twisted buttons.) Unbutton it to the top of your sternum and roll the sleeves up past your elbows. Those little black socks we all own are a cute way to give your work look a fun kick.

Mainsai ring, & Other Stories ring, Bauble Bar necklace, Nine West socks.
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