How To Wear Your Office Wardrobe After You Quit Your Job

When you start working from home, it's tempting to live exclusively in pajamas, but I've found lots of ways not to waste my office-appropriate pieces of clothing.
Publish date:
July 7, 2014
working from home, wardrobe tips, suits, blazers

Last month, I said goodbye to my job as events coordinator at a private women's city club (and my steady income) to promote my novels full time.

The good news: I will never have to wear a suit again. I can write my books in sweats and oversized T-shirts, and when I’m forced to leave the house for book readings or signings, I can throw on a trendy dress and a pair of beaded sandals.

The bad news: Everything in my closet is a suit.

My closet -- specifically the rows and rows of blazers, high-waisted skirts, pinstripe suits, and button-downs -- might make you think that I'm a governor instead of a writer. These office clothes, which I never felt comfortable wearing in the first place, cost me thousands of dollars right out of college (to the chagrin of my more budget-conscious boyfriend) and a lot of time and effort, now only to be cast aside a mere two years later for yoga pants and tank tops.

So even though I’m tempted to sink into the comfort of permanent pajamas, I have decided to find ways to use my suits and other office attire in my everyday writing life, if only to prove to my boyfriend that, yes, I did need that Kate Spade bag the week before I quit my job.

Below are some photos of my plans, mostly taken on my iPhone by random neighbors who I accosted at the bus stop or while out walking their dog, Lemon, in front of the building.

Book Reading in the City

I actually wore this outfit when I read at Kafe Bohem at their monthly literary series. The blazer is H&M (like most things in my closet), and the T-shirt dress is Express, with a pair of Bandolino sandals my sister gave me.

For my readings I strive to look both artistic and dressed up (but not like I’m trying too hard, even though I am), which will give me a good reason to break out the blazers every week or two.

Lunch with an Agent

OK, I don’t have an agent yet, but if I did, I would wear this adorable blazer (note the nautical blue and white striped lining) and a white lace dress from H&M. The shoes are Unforgettable Moments by Lela Rose.

I told my boyfriend last week that I was saving these shoes for our wedding. He looked terrified, so I decided to break my vow and wear them to lunch at a local brewery instead.

Book Festival and Signing

For my book signings, especially outdoor signings at a festival, I prefer to wear a pair of nice pants instead of a dress. Trust me, if you have to sit on an uncomfortable folding chair in either extreme heat or cold while hawking your books, you don’t want to do it in a skirt. But if you look too young to be taken seriously, you can’t wear jeans either.

Here, I paired my office pants (again H&M) with a black tank top and my favorite pointy-toed Circa Joan David shoes, which add a little fun to the otherwise boring black and white outfit.

Everyday Wear (aka Trips to Starbucks)

When I’m not headed to a reading or launch party, I try to mix office clothes with casual pieces. You never know who you might run into -- I once got lost on the GWU campus and got directions from a nice gentleman who turned out to be Ben Stein.

From the left, you can see a small selection of my jeans and button-downs, office shoes and casual sneakers, and T-shirts and fancy bottoms, all of which can be mixed and matched with a strand of pearls to make you the best dressed errand-runner around.

So don’t despair, fellow work-from-homers—your carefully crafted closets will not go to waste.

If you have a great out-of-office look using office-wardrobe pieces, post a picture in the comments!