6 Real Women Show Off Their Office Style

There are few words as terrifying to a fashion lover than "business casual." In a sea of polyester-blend khakis, baggy pencil skirts, and striped button-ups, it's hard to see the light. But don't give up quite yet — office-perfect, style-savvy looks abound.
The proof: Six real working women in NYC show us how they manage to keep professional without compromising their personalities. Sorry, HR — you can't keep us down!
1 of 27
Ashley Orfus, founder and president of ALAB GROUP

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"I am a consultant and founder of ALAB GROUP, a creative laboratory in which I get to work with fashion and lifestyle companies on integrated marketing and communication strategies. I created this dynamic role in response to a niche I saw in the market — providing businesses a true customized direction, one that focused on innovation. I love that I get to constantly be on the go working with amazing start-ups as well as established businesses that I get to see thrive."

Ashley wears a Pink Tartan dress shirt, a 3.1 Phillip Lim peplum top, J.Crew Collection navy pants, and Miu Miu sling backs.
2 of 27
What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"It’s important that my outfit is polished and professional with a hint of wit and fun. I don’t like to take myself too seriously! I love heels so I wear a pair from my vast-yet-eclectic collection with raw silk pants from J.Crew Bridal and a great Phillip Lim blouse or blazer. With that said, I also mix it up and always love paying homage to my roots by dressing up a classic Canadian tuxedo courtesy of Dsquared!"

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"I think I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years, all contributing to what has become my personal mantra: Be hungry and humble. I am incredibly fortunate to meet the most amazing people in this business and I continue to be inspired each and every day by the gifted personalities who are my colleagues, clients, and friends."

Ashley rocks a Cartier Ballon Bleu watch, a custom-made ring, and a vintage Love bracelet.
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3 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"I bought a black, Chanel Caviar bag after working my first job as an assistant buyer for a children’s store. It’s truly the sentimental gratification I got from working so hard to purchase this classic that makes it so special to me."

Where do you shop for clothes?
"In New York, I’m a big fan of the 'Bs' — Barneys, Bergdorf’s, and Bloomingdale's — where I rely on Sandro, Maje, and my new favorite brand, The Kooples. I shop at Holt Renfrew and TNT in Toronto, where I travel often, as well as Oxygen in Miami. I am also a big J.Crew fan and love to buy the Collection line as well as the bridal line for statement pieces."
4 of 27
What's your most treasured fashion item?
"My most treasured fashion item is a custom-made diamond 'O' ring featuring sapphires and diamonds that I’m never seen without. It has incredible sentimental value to me because it signifies a lot of full-circle moments in my life."

What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"I swear by my technology and a minimalist environment, so the only things you will see on my desk are my iMac, iPad, and The Noir Candle from the Fontainebleau Hotel, which always gives me a great sense of calm and a reminder of the beach!"

Ashley's sweater coat is from 3.1 Phillip Lim.
5 of 27
Go-to office lunch?
"I usually go out for lunch meetings at my go-to spots Eataly, Fred’s at Barneys, and The Breslin."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"Casual in general is the pet peeve for me. I’d love to see a more polished aesthetic emerge in the downtown-business scene."

A close-up shot at that pretty Pink Tartan jeweled collar.
6 of 27
Jennifer Leys, operations manager

What is your office dress code?
"It isn't stuffy or traditional, but you must always look professional."

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"I oversee all the general operations of the office and help manage clients. No two days are alike at my job, and that is not a joke. I truly enjoy that every day; I have no idea what will be thrown at me and what I will have to conquer."

Jennifer wears a Trina Turk dress, an Aqua blazer, a BCBG belt, A Rebecca Minkoff bag, and a DKNY coat.
7 of 27
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"Don't take anything personal. Enough said."

What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"I have a go-to pair of electric blue, beautifully tailored pants that I rock with my beloved blue-and-cream patterned Anna Sui blouse. It has a lot of mojo but still is professional."
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8 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"Some years ago, I was working with stylists who helped me score my first pair of Manolo Blahniks. I keep them more now as an art installation — they are more red-carpet suited than climbing-onto-the-subway shoes."

Where do you shop for clothes?
"EVERYWHERE! Truly — I think you can find truly amazing pieces everywhere, from Target to Barneys. My favorite places to shop for the daily grind are Shopbop, Bloomingdale's, Zara."

What's your most treasured fashion item?
"At the moment, my engagement ring! I did not know that I could love a piece of jewelry with all my might!"

Jennifer's got on a Rebecca Minkoff studded leather bracelet, her father's gold watch, and beaded bracelets that were a gift.
9 of 27
What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"NARS lipgloss in various shades, Carmex, Neutrogena hand cream (it has the consistency of butter and saves me in winter)."

Go-to office lunch?
"I always pack myself a lunch — if I don't I will end up eating junk. Generally, it's some kind of protein with a side — I have been known to eat lambchops at noon. I like a proper meal for lunch."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"Business Casual is my pet peeve! What does that mean? You are either dressed to take on Manhattan, or you are dressed to lounge around your house! Its an oxymoron and it leads people to make weird fashion choices. If you are dressing to do business, you should always looked pulled together, and wear something that makes you feel like a warrior. And sure, a pair of khakis can be 'business casual,' but are they the most flattering thing for a woman over 30? I think not."
10 of 27
Jie Zheng, cofounder of Material Wrld

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"I cofounded Material Wrld, an online fashion community where people discover and shop from each other's closets. You can't connect buyers and sellers across the world without providing a great experience. My role is to make it fun and easy to shop by creating great features that enhance the user experience from start to finish. Every day, I get to peek inside the closets of hundreds of stylish individuals. It's the ultimate form of window shopping for a fashion lover like me."

What is your office dress code?
"Expressive, creative, and fun, true to our fashion start-up culture!"

Jie wears a plaid Tucker silk blouse, a Theory blazer, a DANNIJO necklace, high-waisted Aritzia trousers, and suede Cynthia Vincent heels.
11 of 27
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"To invest in your employees and build a great culture. Happy employees lead to happy customers, which makes for a happy business and healthy bottom line."

What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"A rag & bone shirtdress over leggings with a skinny belt, cropped Martin Margiela jacket, Ash wedge sneakers that I snatched from DANNIJO Jodie Snyder's closet on Material Wrld, and my gold pistol necklace. It's comfy with a bit of edge."
12 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"My layered Balenciaga dress with pleated skirt from Barneys. lt's still my go-to day-to-night dress."

Where do you shop for clothes?
"Some of my favorite stores include Bird, Barneys, and Shopbop."
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13 of 27
What's your most treasured fashion item?
"My mom's navy and white silk polka-dot scarf from China. It has a vintage feminine feel, and I always think of her when I wear it."

What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"A disco ball, a red Pantone mug, rooibos tea, and Hourglass lipstick in bright coral Muse."
14 of 27
Go-to office lunch?
"Westville. Can't go wrong with fresh, simple ingredients."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"I've always wondered why khaki pants have continued to be a staple of business casual outfits. Let's get a little more personality into the workplace!"
15 of 27
Melissa Salerno, breast cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

What is your office dress code?
"My office dress code is business casual, but since I meet with patients, I like to dress it up a little bit more. I think it's fun to dress for work and be able to transform that outfit into after work attire."

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"I am a breast cancer researcher for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I meet with Ashkenazi Jewish women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer and offer them genetic testing to help them make more informed surgical decisions. I love that I get to do research that helps women who are dealing with such a devastating disease. It feels great to have these women use me as a resource in helping them fight breast cancer."

Melissa wears American Apparel trousers, a Ralph Lauren belt, Nine West heels, an H&M shirt, a Zara blazer, and a Hunter bag.

16 of 27
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"A coworker of mine once told me to make sure I establish boundaries. I never really understood that until recently when I started feeling overly emotional about the work I do. I think it's important for me to show empathy for my patients, but to make sure that I keep strict emotional boundaries. Otherwise, this type of work can really take a toll on you."

What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"I love wearing Zara black cropped skinny pants, Lacoste ankle boots, an oversized J.Crew boyfriend sweater, Michael Kors watch, and either a statement necklace or a wild pair of earrings. Keeping it simple always works for me. Oh, and I also always use one of my Hunter leather bags; they really pull an outfit together."
17 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"I first bought a pair of Tory Burch Audrey ballet flats. Unfortunately, I no longer have them because I literally wore them into the ground! Since then, I have purchased four more pairs of Tory Burch flats to make up for it!"

Where do you shop for clothes?
"Everywhere from Buffalo Exchange to Zara to Bloomingdale's. I really enjoy having a standout piece and building an outfit around it with less expensive items."
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18 of 27
What's your most treasured fashion item?
"I would have to say it's my Elie Tahari navy blue blazer. My mom got it for me two years ago, and I am obsessed with it. That blazer is such a classic piece and I feel like I will never get rid of it."

What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"A water bottle, lotion, chapstick, MAC lipstick, and MAC eye highlighter. I love to stay hydrated throughout the day and I honestly can't live without chapstick...I'm addicted. The MAC items I keep on my desk are simple yet really useful when I need to touch up before going into a meeting or seeing a patient."

Melissa's gorgeous necklace is from Bauble Bar.

19 of 27
Go-to office lunch?
"I am obsessed with this little bagel cafe on the corner next to my office. They have the most delicious whole-wheat everything bagel, and I indulge in that almost daily without regret."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"When women wear running sneakers with their dress pants or skirts. I get that sneakers are more comfortable, but for some reason it just irks me!"
20 of 27
Liz Hull, marketing director at Dalaga

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"Working in a women's boutique allows for a lot of freedom when it comes to getting dressed every day. We encourage expressing personal style, so almost anything goes! It's pretty casual around here, so most days you can find me in a dress or a skirt with a button-up and flats or heeled boots."

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"Dalaga is very small so I wear many hats! I handle everything from digital strategy and social media to product photography and running our e-commerce. I love being able to work so closely with the owners and having a strong hand in shaping the store's future."

Liz wears a vintage blazer and shirt, a Steven Alan skirt, Stuart Weitzman shoes, and a necklace from Young Frankk.
21 of 27
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"Don't sell yourself short. I think we're often taught to be modest, which I think can be an endearing quality, but you also need to know when to stick up for yourself. It's incredibly empowering to acknowledge your strengths!"

What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"Right now, I'd have to say my trusty striped St. James tee, thrifted chunky fisherman cardigan with high-rise jeans, and the newest addition to my closet: Rachel Comey Mars boots (which I cannot take off my feet!)"
22 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"I treated myself to two items from Alexa Chung's original collection for Madewell the night it debuted in stores. I remember cringing as I swiped my credit card, but both reside in my closet to this day, and I feel extra pretty whenever I put them on."

Where do you shop for clothes?
"Other than Dalaga, you can find me in thrift and secondhand stores 99% of the time. I love the hunt and can spend hours scouring the racks. I also love the shops in Greenpoint — In God We Trust and Raised by Wolves always have beautiful things, but my everyday go-tos are Madewell and Steven Alan."

What's your most treasured fashion item?
"My grandmother's locket. It looks like a miniature pocket watch, and my aunt lovingly set it aside for me when my grandmother passed away."

Here's a better look at the necklace!

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23 of 27
What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"I have two giant computer screens, so there's not much room for anything else on there! However, I do always have a large glass of water to parch my never-ending thirst, a cup of coffee, my iPhone, and Burt's Bees chapstick."

Go-to office lunch?
"Calexico! Its quesadillas are heaven sent."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"Anything ill fitting. I think something as simple as jeans and a blazer that are tailored to fit properly will always look and feel more put together than a schlumpy pant or skirt suit."

Liz' rings are from Vera Meat, In God We Trust, and her bracelet is vintage.

24 of 27
Enna Eskin, executive director of finance & business operations at The Huffington Post

Tell us a little bit about your job. What do you love most about it?
"I am the head of finance and business operations for The Huffington Post. I spend my day staring at complex excel spreadsheets and attending meetings to help the business grow and resolve day-to-day issues. I am lucky enough to get to do what I love for a living. I think about most issues through the prism of finance naturally!"

Enna wears a Theory blazer, a Maria Cornejo jumpsuit, and Margiela for H&M wedges.

25 of 27
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
"No one wakes up to be an asshole. Whatever people do or say in a stressful situation during the day, it helps to remember that everybody wants to do a great job and go home to a glass of wine."

What's your favorite outfit you wear to work?
"Skinny jeans, a sharp blazer, and killer heels."

Enna's necklace is by Etten Eller.

26 of 27
What was your first big fashion purchase you made with a paycheck? Do you still wear it?
"My Hermès cape cod double-strap black watch. It's understated, classic, and just a bit edgy. Most people don't know it's special, which is something I prefer. I still wear it daily!"

Where do you shop for clothes?
"Maria Cornejo, Theory, and J.Crew."

What are the products/tchotchkes/essentials you always have to have on your desk?
"My lip balm, my iPhone, and a print out of my calendar for the day. I am much better with paper than iCal!"
27 of 27
Go-to office lunch?
"A salad from Balthazar bakery takeout. I've eaten it three days a week or more for the last seven years."

What's your biggest business casual pet peeve?
"Sneakers! Any kind of kicks on men or women are just too casual for the office. It makes you look sloppy."
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