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Best workwear 2019: Ideal clothes for style and practicality, from £22 to £280

Whether you're a super-smart power dresser or favour a more casual laid-back look, we've got you covered

For most folk, workwear is likely to comprise a set of daily essentials from their wardrobe. These pieces will be the practical, indispensable and often the most-worn, and as such should be easy to wear, even easier to wash, and long-lasting. And since your attire is one of the first things people will see on meeting you, workwear needs to reflect the very best version of yourself in the workplace. For some, that will mean super-smart power dressing; for others, it will mean a more casual, laid-back look but with good attention to detail. Research even shows that the right clothing can enhance our mood and therefore our performance in the workplace.

So whatever you choose to wear to work, pick the right pieces for you with the help of our best workwear roundup for the season ahead.

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Best workwear 2019

1. Boden

“A funny thing has happened to the national treasure that is Boden. Well, not so much funny as highly unexpected… Boden is suddenly cool. There you go. Never say never in fashion,” wrote Shane Watson in The Telegraph back in 2015. “Because the one thing Boden has never been throughout the 24-year history of the brand is cool.”

In the years since that article was published, Boden has continued to go from strength to strength. Not all of its pieces are the height of fashion, but a bit of digging will unearth some sophisticated and stylish clothing, which also boasts Boden’s trademark benefits of offering value for money, excellent quality, and being flattering, functional and comfortable. Boden’s clothes also stand out for the fact that items are true to size and will hold their shape even after years of use.

From dresses to blazers, jumpsuits to shirts and knitwear to trousers, this is a brand that understands that workwear has to meet many demands – from smart tailoring that’s office appropriate but never too serious, and that clothing looks and feels just as good at the end of the day as it does at the start. Featuring unique prints – often in bold, Bodenista statement colours, but increasingly in neutrals – Boden is a winner for women, and sometimes for men too.

Josephine Ponte Dress, £90

A best-selling style for this season, this figure-skimming ponte dress features a stylish tie-waist. Stretchy and comfortable, the ponte fabric – for which Boden is well known – is fitted for a flattering look. By the second week of January, the company had sold out of the red option, and have re-stocked due to incredibly high customer demand.

Buy now from Boden

Geo Print Silk Shirt, £110

This easy-to-wear shirt is made from sand-washed silk, which feels soft and adds a pop of colour to your workwear wardrobe. Best worn with tapered trousers.

Buy now from Boden

Elizabeth Ponte Blazer, £98 and Hampshire 7/8 Trousers, £65

The fitted, fully lined blazer is beautifully tailored, whilst retaining maximum comfort in super-stretchy, soft ponte. A great transitional piece, it’s ideal when paired with the matching trousers for daytime, then over a floaty dress for after-work events. Available in black and navy for an understated look, or dark rose for those wanting to make a statement.

Buy the Elizabeth Ponte Blazer now from Boden

Buy the Hampshire Trousers now from Boden

Elgin Pique Blazer, £150

If your workplace allows men a slightly more laid-back look, then this smart-casual navy blazer will soon become a wardrobe staple. Made in Portugal, its European-style tailored look will appeal to many, and it’s made from soft pique jersey for a stretchy, comfy fit.

Buy now from Boden

2. Phase Eight

We love this British womenswear designer clothing brand, which was founded in 1979 and now has stores and concessions in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Australia, UAE among others.

Its range includes daywear and occasionwear, along with limited editions – and, more recently, bridal too – and you can shop for flattering plus-size clothing as well (up to size 26 from their sister brand, Studio 8).

Many of the pieces look far more expensive than they really are; made from gorgeous fabrics and offering unusual prints and stylish cuts. As well as tailored clothing, the brand also excels at a more flowy look, using layered, wispy fabrics. Check out Phase Eight’s range of jewellery, too, especially its statement pieces.

Quirky fact: the name “Phase Eight” is a combo of P. Hayes – the name of the founder – and the address of her first boutique at 8 Bellevue Road in Wandsworth Common.

Shanna Jersey Dress, £89

Phase Eight’s plus-size clothing is a boon for women size 14 and over. This graceful black number looks as though it has a glamorous wrap bodice, but really it’s stitched into the dress for extra comfort, while the ruffle detailing and slightly flared skirt keeps it in vogue.

Buy now from Phase Eight

Hatty Heatfix Star Knit, £55

Want to snuggle up in a jumper, but stay looking sophisticated for work? Then this knit is a great solution. Made from a soft wool mix, with metallic stars sewn in all over, this round-necked jumper with irregular hemline is a winner. Available in pale blue or pink.

Buy now from Phase Eight

Delmar Denim Dress, £89

This very dark indigo easy-wear dress is fitted in all the right places and has an on-trend V-neck and cap sleeves. We like the zip-detailed pockets and the fact that it will go with practically any type of footwear, be it chunky ankle boots, flats, heels or… well, pretty much anything.

Buy now from Phase Eight

3. White Stuff

White Stuff offers a more laid-back range of clothing, but it remains smart. The focus is on colourful prints, embroidered detailing and reversible, versatile styles, with something for everyone – except, perhaps, the ultimate power dresser. The fabrics are of good quality and usually easy to wash, plus they’re comfortable to wear, too. There’s plenty available in the way of accessories (including fabulous scarves) and footwear as well. It’s clothing that you can wear not only to work, but at the weekend too.

Men can get in on the action as well, either from the 115+ shops in the UK (and now in Germany) or via mail-order catalogues and through White Stuff’s website.

“Natural” and “authentic” are words we’d associate with this brand, and with the majority of prints designed in-house, you can be sure you won’t see them in other high-street stores. “We love colour in all its moods, from muted tones to bold brights,” a brand spokesperson told us.

Founded in 1985, when two friends George Treves and Sean Thomas decided to sell printed T-shirts and sweatshirts in Val-d’Isere to fund their skiing holidays, it was initially called “Boys from the White Stuff” but later changed its name, opening the first White Stuff Clothing store in London in 1991.

Geometric Reversible Skirt, £49.95

With this colourful skirt, you’re basically getting two pieces for the price of one. Wear it as a geometric skirt with floral graphic print on Monday then turn it inside out for a blue abstract print skirt on Wednesday – without having to spend an extra penny. Its A-line shape sits just below the knee, making it a flattering length and style for most body shapes.

Buy now from White Stuff

Tess Dress, £49.95

Apart from being excellent value at less than £50, this versatile dress is easy to wear, fitting loosely around the body, and is available in five different patterns. Our favourite is this amber orange print.

Buy now from White Stuff

Sweet Melody Shirt, £47.50

There are so many fabulous shirts around at the moment, but this one – with its embroidered cats and flowers – is a bit more quirky and unusual than most. We love the shape, with box pleat at the back yoke, and its curved hem. No need to tuck this one in for a flattering look.

Buy now from White Stuff

Albie Denim Dress, £59.95

Typically for items from White Stuff, you’ll want to wear this comfortable, stretchy dress at the weekends as well as to work. Nice touches include the two front pockets and three-quarter length sleeves. It washes well too.

Buy now from White Stuff

4. Monsoon

Monsoon – one half of the Monsoon Accessorize empire – offers affordable options that range from basics to trend-led pieces. Some of our favourites include transitional separates that can be combined to create different looks throughout the seasons. Ideal for the office-to-drinks-reception dash, clothing is particularly good for unusual cuts and vibrant, colourful, Eastern-influenced style.

Not surprising, really, since Monsoon’s roots are with founder Peter Simon, who spent time travelling through Afghanistan and India in the early 1970s. Wanting to sell bohemian-inspired clothing with hand-printed, hand-woven and crochet detail, he started out on a stall on Portobello Road. Three years later, he opened his first store.

The brand continues to work with craftspeople in villages and small communities – the idea being trade, not aid, to build sustainability. Items are made from fabrics that include hand-loomed cotton and silk, which are coloured using organic vegetable dyes, with patterns coming from artisan block-printing practices. That said, tailoring is a big trend this year and Monsoon is offering classic tailored suits to more bold options.

Be warned, though: not all of Monsoon’s clothing is deemed as being of great quality (some customers complain it’s gone downhill) and the brand has suffered financially in recent years. Nevertheless, we still think many of its pieces are ideal for today’s workwear – just do your research.

Maude Checked Skirt, £22.50

Great for all shapes, this faux-wrap skirt with check pattern and three metal buttons will keep you right on trend. It’s easy to get on and off, thanks to the size zip, and it’s fully lined, so no itchiness. Looks great with flats or heels.

Buy now from Monsoon

Pippa Stripe Shimmer Midi Dress, £60

We think this cotton dress with belt, button fastenings and a belt is one of the best dresses to come out of Monsoon this season. Best paired with ankle boots (in pretty much any neutral colour), your female colleagues will be dying to know where you got it from. It comes in at a good price, too.

Buy now from Monsoon

Tiff Cornelli Cotton Jumper Dress, £32.50

We love this grey dress whose swirling detailing around the neck, hem and wrists gives it a real lift. Knitted in pure cotton, it’s soft against the skin and looks great with tights and boots or flat shoes. It’s nice and warm, too – but not too hot.

Buy now from Monsoon

5. Hobbs

You’ll need to dig a bit deeper into your purse for these beautiful pieces from this well-known UK womenswear brand. You won’t regret your purchase, though, with each item feeling and looking super-special.

Founded in Hampstead in 1981, Hobbs actually started life as a shoe shop. Now, the brand has clothing stores across the UK and concession stores in Germany and USA. With customers including the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton, it’s no wonder Hobbs has become increasingly sought-after. In 2013, the royal link became even tighter, with Hobbs launching a licensed collection produced in collaboration with the Historic Royal Palaces; two collections are now designed each year. The brand does its fair bit for charity, too, working to help unemployed women enter the UK workplace by providing interview clothing and training and styling advice.

In terms of style, think elegant, with an equestrian twist. In fact, Hobbs was named after one of the founder’s favourite brand of horsebox. This line of clothing is generally pitched at middle age or older.

Cecilia Dress, £279

“Behold the folds,” exclaims Hobbs about this elegant black dress whose pleats, tucks, gathers and folds are sent from heaven in terms of flattery. Part of the lavish London Collection, it isn’t cheap – but it’s made from Italian jersey that will last and last, and its cut means it certainly won’t be going out of fashion anytime soon either.

Buy now from Hobbs

Gael Trouser, £110

Rare is a working woman without a pair of tapered trousers in her wardrobe. They go with practically any type of footwear and these ones stand out for never looking like they’ve been washed, even if they have been many, many times. Super-flattering, the wool stretch material results in a comfy fit too.

Buy now from Hobbs

Annabel Dress, £149

With a definite nod to the 1950s, and yet right on trend, this dress is simple yet utterly glamorous. There’s a jacket to match (sold separately), if you want the flexibility to wear as a suit. Wear with court shoes for a practical yet graceful look.

Buy now from Hobbs

6. Jigsaw

If it’s contemporary tailoring you’re after, then look no further than Jigsaw. Italian wool fabrics and luxury detail ensures that fit and style are always top-notch, for both women and men.

All clothing is designed in-house at the brand’s London studio, with exclusive prints and hand-painted designs developed by the company’s in-house artist, then made in Italian mills.

As well as the classic “Paris” fit tailoring for women, Jigsaw offers an alternative for more up-to-the-minute workwear options. This season, for example, the brand has introduced a corduroy suit in burgundy with a modern twist. The jacket is double-breasted with four-button fastening, and can be worn with a co-ordinating floral “flippy” skirt; or, team with matching trouser for a great. Workwear options also include the oversized check wrap dress in navy and wrap skirt in the same fabric, which are more fluid and contemporary than tailored styles.

For men, there’s everything from cotton chinos to versatile shirts and some gorgeous jumpers too.

Single breasted Herringbone City Coat, £280

If you think this looks good in the picture, wait until you try it on. The timeless wool herringbone, together with a gorgeous cut, will make for a stylish finishing touch to your work outfit, keeping the chill off at this colder time of year. Best worn with boots.

Buy now from Jigsaw

Waterfall Print Jersey Dress, £89

We loved this the moment we tried it on. It nips in at all the right places and the stretch-jersey fabric means you’ll never feel restricted, no matter how much you’re up and about in your job. The elbow-length sleeves are great for winter, too – long enough to keep the chill off, but they don’t get in the way.

Buy now from Jigsaw

Paris Tailoring Pencil Skirt, £98

This isn’t the first time this stretch Italian pencil skirt has been on sale at Jigsaw; it sold out so quickly the first time, the company decided to bring it back. Nor is it the first time that the pencil skirt has made its way into British workplaces. This one sports a sleeker, more modern look while also remaining comfortable enough to see you through the day.

Buy now from Jigsaw

Grey Herringbone Epsom Coat, £280

We love this men’s herringbone coat almost as much as we love their women’s version above. It’s super smart and easily justifies its price. In fact, it probably looks expensive than it is, with a sumptuous lining, and includes three handy internal pockets. It’s versatile, too, matching well with jeans as well as workwear.

Buy now from Jigsaw

Wool Cashmere Rib Crew Jumper, £125

Another piece for a more laid back workplace, this men’s wool/cashmere blend jumper with fisherman rib-knit style feels luxurious against the skin. It looks great and is available in four different colours, too.

Buy now from Jigsaw

7. Next

A one-stop-shop for the whole family, Next is especially useful for workwear for both men and women.

For men’s suits, the range mixes fashion with functionality. Think easy-care technology, offering liquid-repellent, machine-washable and crease-resistant fabrics. Or, make a statement with retro-inspired styles or checked blazers along with heritage-feel brogues. There are also premium ranges including Next Signature made from luxury yarns.

There’s plenty of choice offered with regards to the fit, too. It covers everything from slim fit (more fitted than a regular but looser than a skinny version), skinny fit (a modern iteration of the classic suit, and narrower version of a slim fit one), super skinny fit (creates a flattering silhouette for slimmer men), tailored fit (smaller through the shoulder and the waist for a classic, contemporary look) and regular fit (a flattering choice for the broader man).

Meanwhile, for women, Next is right on trend with its Colourama collection with pops of ochre, fuchsia and green; with styles made to “take you confidently from desk to drinks”. For a more tailored look, check out the store’s Feminine Tailoring collections that include garments with pastel colourways to bold graphic prints.

For the essentials, Next offers great value for money, whether it’s flattering work trousers, camis, co-co-ordinating jackets or simple flats. And most of the clothes are easily washable, usually at 40 degrees.

Donegal Suit: jacket, £90, trousers £50, waistcoast, £50

This slim-fit suit for men is mix-and-matchable, so you don’t have to buy the whole lot. Pushed as a wedding party suit, we think it’s great for making a statement in the workplace, too. Made from wool blend, it’s comfy to wear, while the single-breasted design is right on trend.

Buy now from Next

Blue Stripe and textured shirts, 3 pack, £48

This is a bargain price for three long-lasting, nice-fitting shirts. You can pick from regular or slim-fit single-cuff styles and a range of colours, too. A wallet-friendly way of ensuring you’re never caught short without a shirt for work in the morning.

Buy now from Next

Animal Print Fitted Dress, £26

You can always count on Next for affordable workwear and this gorgeous animal print dress is a prime example. Available in other colours and prints as well, it’s short-sleeved with v-neck and feels nice and floaty, never restricting.

Buy now from Next

Textured Waffle Blazer, £60

Choose from rust, blue or green and from sizes ranging from 6 to 22. This blazer is well-lined, and offers a flattering fit that tapers at the waist to suit all shapes and sizes. It’s warm enough to keep the cold at bay, without making you feel hot and sticky on your commute to work.

Buy now from Next

8. Superdry

Superdry? For work? Yes, we do realise Superdry is all about laid-back weekend gear – and that kitting yourself out in one of its signature hoodies and heavily branded t-shirts and jeans would probably win you nothing more than an instant meeting with your boss and a formal warning.

But those who aren’t in formal environments such as banking or law, would do well to check out the brand’s men’s shirts. Seriously, for the more casual workplace they tick all the boxes.

Not only do they look good, the range on offer is huge. There are different kinds of fits, fabrics and colourways, and they wash well, too. You can bung these beauties in the washing machine as many times as you like and they’ll emerge looking like you’ve just plucked them off the rack in the store.

We’re not going to recommend Superdry – which started life as a clothing stall in Cheltenham Market – for women’s workwear since it really is just a bit too casual, but for men’s shirt it’s a must.

Premium Button Down Embroidered Shirt, £45

This regular-fit shirt doesn’t shout too loudly that it’s from Superdry, and even where the logo does appear it’s embroidered for a classy finish. Available in pink, blue or grit (a kind of light grey/beige), it goes a treat with trousers or jeans.

Buy now from Superdry

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Premium University Oxford Shirt, £45

This crisp white shirt is gorgeous. Available in long or short sleeves, and in plenty of colours, it’s a real wardrobe essential that manages to look simultaneously laid-back and classy. With a single chest pocket and button-down fastening, it keeps things simple and washes beautifully.

Buy now from Superdry

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