If you’re facing the perpetual what-the-hell-do-I-wear-to-work conundrum, it’s rather tempting to throw your hands in the air and head to your nearest department store. But any seasoned office drone (*winks*) knows that you only really need a slim selection of items in order to truly master business-casual attire. Ahead, we hand-picked 13 cool-girl workwear essentials worth investing in, even if you’re on a junior budget.

1. The trucker jacket

Take it from us: the denim jacket is the ultimate cool-girl work essential. It’s not quite as formal as a blazer, but it still gets the job done.

workwear essentials

Denim jacket R1 099 Mango.com

2. The midi dress

A sleeveless midi dress is a classic staple, fit for practically any work environment. Business casual has so many variations these days anyway, but a sophisticated and modern look like this one is definitely part of the vocabulary.

Workwear essentials

Midi dress R999 David Jones at Woolworths

3. The sling-back heel

A shoe in a timeless sling-back style looks especially good with cropped trousers or jeans and still looks fresh with tights in colder weather.

workwear essentials

Sling-backs R949 Mango.com

4. The raised hem dress

For warmer days and also great for layering, a sleeveless minidress is the answer.

workwear essentials

Dress R1 099 Country Road at Woolworths

5. The cover-up

This light-weight version is ideal for warmer days. Throw it over a shorter dress for added layer style.

workwear essentials

Trench R1 999 Mango.com

6. The cotton top

When the average button-up shirt options all start looking the same, it never hurts to break it up with something fun but still work-appropriate. Case in point: this striped wrap option.

workwear essentials

Cotton top R379 H&M

7. The jacket that goes with everything

An updated cropped parka that won’t feel too trendy to wear again and again.

workwear essentials

Parka R1 699 Mango.com

8. The button-up shirt

A crisp shirt will never go out of style. If you work in an extra-creative office environment, you can get away with layering it under a camisole with culottes or a spaghetti strap dress à la Kendall Jenner.

workwear essentials

Shirt R130 MRP

9. The midi skirt

A midi skirt is the Goldilocks of skirt lengths, and makes dressing easy. This one’s exceptionally styled, with a flattering wrap waist. Wear it with a classic dress shirt, cotton top or a crew-neck knit and look instantly pulled-together.

workwear essentials

Skirt R499 Studio W at Woolworths

10. The carry-all bag

A reliable bag to handle your laptop, your lunch and anything else you can think to cram in there.

workwear essentials

Leather bag R2 199 Mat & May

 

11. The slip-on flat

An extra comfortable and on-trend pair of leather flats that you can simply slip on and go.

workwear essentials

Flats R1 099 Country Road at Woolworths

12. The jeans

workwear essentials

Jeans R699 mango.com

Super-simple and versatile… Swap out your tapered trousers for a pair of unwashed straight-cut denims (if your office allows).

13. The crew-neck knit

Simple silhouettes always win, but look to a pretty shade of pink to stand out from your colleagues.

workwear essentials

Knit R629 H&M

 

Don’t let building your capsule workwear wardrobe intimidate you. Just remember to go for pieces that are able to work over time to seamlessly transition into your everyday life. Now go get that promotion!

 

Originally via MC USA