10 of The Best Summer Work Separates


The clients I shop with are all different shapes and sizes but almost all work in a smart/casual office environment and practically all of them initially contact me because they don't know the right separates to buy for their work wardrobe and often don't have time to work it all out or source those items. It's no surprise that so many time-poor busy people feel frustrated when shopping and need some inspiration! Where should they go to get the right clothes and what are the actual pieces to buy? We all deserve a great wardrobe that gives us easy outfits that look great, are comfortable, polished and of course NOT FRUMPY! :) 

Here's my round up of the 10 key summer separates for a polished, smart casual work wardrobe.

1. Cream silk or off white blouse - absolute stone cold classic. This simple basic will instantly add polish to your look because of the silk and will go with everything. This item will cost a bit more but give you great cost per wear. 


2. A patterned blouse. It's good to add a splash of colour during summer and jazz up plain tailored trousers for the office. For patterned blouses that aren't frumpy I recommend &Other Stories and I really like the green satin wrap top below with black tailored trousers and heels. They've just done a collaboration with House of Hackney which is super patterned if that's your thing. If you prefer a more understated pattern they have loads of choice and loads of colour.

3. A pair of tailored trousers. Always a necessity in a smart/casual work wardrobe. This season and last season too these trousers at Whistles have worked really well for lots of my clients. Pear shapes have a hard time finding trousers because they tend to gape at the back but these also work on pears. Also try Reiss for black tailored trousers, they have lots of shapes for lots of bodies. 


4. A pair of cropped cullottes and/or a pair of wide legged trousers. This trouser shape is very 'now' and will keep your look current. 


Maje wide legged trousers

Maje wide legged trousers

5. A blazer. It's chilly in the mornings and in the evenings but also if you've got a meeting then you need to throw on a blazer. Pastel shades are very current but if they don't suit you (I look dead in pastels) then go for grey or navy rather than harsh black in summer. 

6. A summer leather jacket. Yep, I'm going to have a job convincing some people that this is indeed a wardrobe staple. It will cool-up your look in more relaxed smart casual office environments and looks fantastic over floaty summer dresses and maxi's. I don't mean a black leather jacket, one in a soft summer colour - very handy wardrobe piece.


7. A pleated midi skirt. I've been banging on about these being a modern classic and it's absolutely true! Easy to wear, feminine and glam. I really like the metallic whistles knife pleat skirts that are currently with 20% off!!!! This colour is so summery and would look nice with a white t-shirt.


8. Summer linen dress. It's supposed to reach 31 degrees on Monday and yes it's a bank holiday but it can get really hot in the city during summer and a linen dress will be a God send. 

9. Smart cardigan. Cardigans can look frumpy if you don't get it right but if you opt for a smart, possibly structured cardigan they will finish an outfit beautifully. You'll still look smart but without the formality of a blazer. Claudie Pierlot is a young French brand that does excellent workwear with a twist. This red cardigan is stylish and strong because of the bold colour. You will stand out for the right reasons and feel comfortable at the same time - winner! Zara have done a version of this for a fraction of the price but obviously the quality won't be quite as good. LK Bennet always do a structured peplum cardigan that is great on curves and gives a very pulled together look. 

10. Finally, the blush suede court shoe. When Kate and William got married it was all about the nude patent platform but that was in 2008. If last week's Royal Wedding is anything to go by then the IT crowd have moved on to suede blush or taupe heels that will go with everything. I've been touting suede over patent to my clients for a while now because it really will finish your outfit and go with every colour in your wardrobe. These nude pink Jimmy Choo's are gorgeous - for Highstreet versions go to Dune and Whistles.



I hope you found this blog useful and inspirational for pulling together your summer work wardrobe. If you do need help with your wardrobe this season I have appointments in June -


Lisa Gillbe is a personal stylist based in London.