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Karina paisley print long sleeve dress, neckerchief, Gloria VanderBilt pumps (all own), and suede fringe clutch c/o Uno Alla Volta

Read how you get instant chic work outfits with the right dresses and separates for your body type.


  1. What is Instant Chic Style?
  2. The Right Cut and Fit for Your Body Shape  Matter
  3. How to Style Instant Chic Work Outfits with Dresses
    • Fitted Dress plus Trench Coat
    • Shirt Dress plus Blazer/Cardigan
    • Sheath Dress with Cardigan
    • Sheath Dresses with a Turtleneck Are Instant Chic
  4. What to Wear to Staff and Client Meetings on Casual Friday
  5. Instant Chic Evergreen Looks with Separates
    • Separates to Wear When You Dress in a Hurry
    • Further Inspirations of Last Minute Separates Work Outfit
  6. How to Adjust Your Outerwear
  7. Wrapping Up Instant Chic Work Outfits


Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Why Do You Need Instant Chic Work Outfits?

We all have been there: You are sitting at the breakfast table fully dressed in a Casual Friday look checking your work emails. One of them is from your boss’ secretary. A last minute invitation for an important business meeting with customers. This means the meeting requires a Business Casual work outfit and you have to redress in a hurry.

No reason to panic! Use the following instant outfit tricks to solve your problem whenever you have a last minute call for a wardrobe change.

Stylist tip: These instant chic work outfits hacks also work when you are just not in the mood to create an outfit.


What Is Instant Chic Style?

Often you don’t have the time to think about or create an outfit. In such cases, an instant style outfit recipe is great to rescue last minutes dressing problems. There is also this statement that

a dress with pumps and a clutch is instant chic. #effordlesslystylish #instantchic Click To Tweet

Like you can’t be over- or under-dressed in a LBD,

A tailored, well-fitting dress in neutral colors always looks professional. #instantstyle #workstyle Click To Tweet

Add the respective accessories and you are ready for a business dinner, a meeting with clients, and even date night after work. These statements are true, when you have the right well tailored day dress in a cut that suits your body shape and pumps and clutches that go with it. In other words,

Instant chic means that you have dresses in the right fit for your body shape as well as bags and pumps in your wardrobe that coordinate well with each other.

Then you just throw on one of your work dresses, grab a work clutch/bag and pumps and you are ready to go.

blogger in DvF wrap dress with motorcycle jacket
Side view wrap dress with cream leather jacket


back view of above DvF dress and leather jacket instant outfit
Back view


stylist wearing an instant outfit


The Right Cut and Fit for Your Body Shape Matter

A great dress in the wrong cut for your body type fails as an instant chic work outfit. Recall for example the late Princess Diana. Her worst looks were those when she wore a shift dress. These well tailored, top designer shift dresses in high quality fabrics failed to give her this instant chic factor. And no matter which expensive clutches and pumps she used to styled them. Princess Diana like most of us just hadn’t the right body shape to rock shifts.

If you don’t know your body type, use this free tool to determine your body shape.


How to Style Instant Chic Work Outfits

Fitted Dress plus Trench Coat

A knee-length classic navy day dress looks great with a taupe trench coat, a gray belt, gray or navy pumps, and a red work tote, diamond studs, and a pearl necklace. After work, swap the pearls and diamonds for long chandeliers, the tote for a silver clutch, and the pumps for strappy sandals, and you are ready for date night.

For ruler-shaped women like myself, a printed fit-and-flare dress, for instance, provides instant chic with clutch, belt and shoes that repeat colors of the print.


mature blogger in fall office outfit with dress
Front view fit-and-flare dress



stylist instant chic outfit of dress, bag and pumps
Outfit details: Karina Dresses fit-and-flare dress, neckerchief, layering top, Kieselstein Cord belt, Leggs pantyhose, Gloria Vanderbilt pumps, and suede Florentine designer clutch c/o Uno Alla Volta


Shirt Dress plus Blazer/Cardigan

A below-the-knees silk printed shirt dress looks professional with a tailored blazer, work tote, and Mary-Janes/pumps. Add a man’s watch and you are ready. In a business casual work environment, a denim or jean in a shirt dress cut with scarf and cardigan works. More on styling with scarves.

Shirt dresses can come in various cuts. See, for instance, this review of Shop Cozy shirt dresses. Therefore, invest in a shirt dress that balances your body shape.


over 50 years old woman wearing an instant look of skirt dress with cardigan
Instant look: Example skirt dress with cardigan: Denim dress styled with L.K. Bennett patent leather pumps, GNW tights, DIY wide belt, dyed GNW cardigan and a red-black-blue plaid scarf that ties the office appropriate instant look together.


Sheath Dress with Cardigan

In summer, a printed sheath is a no-brainer, when your work dress-code allows sleeveless dresses. Otherwise, a sheath with sleeves does the trick. Just add flesh-colored pumps to elongate your legs, pearl studs, and a work clutch to meet with clients. In fall, just add a cardigan over the sleeveless sheath or later a layering top under the sheath.


sheath with cardigan, scarf winter work outfit
Instant style: Example sheath dress with cardigan: GAP LBD with Russian scarf, Moda International cardigan, leopard print tight, Söfft booties, Gucci belt (all own) and wooden watch c/o Jord


Sheath Dresses with a Turtleneck Are Instant Chic

What I love about sheath dresses is that they give instant polish and are so work appropriate. Moreover, they are so versatile. One can wear them without or with a shirt or sweater underneath, with a little cardigan, a classic denim jacket), a blazer, or as a skirt, with a quilted leather jacket, a motorcycle jacket with pearls, or with a sweater over the dress as skirt. A green turtleneck with plaid sheath is also a great option.


style blogger in hounds tooth sheath with green turtleneck, black tights and tall boots
Loft hounds tooth sheath with Brooks Brothers sweater, Hermes Medor watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW tights, GNW tight, and Sanchez boots


Stylist’s tip: Switch your winter boots to dress shoes at the office for great style.


What to Wear to Staff and Client Meetings on Casual Friday

This situation is tricky in an office with a Casual Friday culture. Imagine you have an afternoon meeting with the co-workers, and a morning meeting with an important client both on Friday. A classic dress with long sleeves meets the dress code for the latter. After the meeting with the client, add a denim jacket or vest for the meeting with the co-workers.



midlife woman in business casual summer look with mens wear inspired stripe with floral button-down dress
Back view instant outfit with shirt dress


influencer in chic striped floral dress instant chic look
Outfit details: Shein shirt dress, Gucci bamboo handle bag, Studio sandals, Kieselstein Cord belt, pearl necklace, and mirrored wooden sunglasses c/o Winkwood


In summer, a floral poplin dress with a jacket or a sleek tailored shirt dress with pumps in the vibe will work for the situation as well. When your work dress code permits sandals use (non-sexy) sandals instead of pumps for Casual Friday like in the example above.

Stylist tip: Print instant outfit ideas and post them in your closet to save time when you are in a hurry.



Instant Chic Evergreen Looks with Separates

Separates to Wear When You Dress in a Hurry

Here are my secret tips what to do in the above “dressing emergency” when going for separates,

    • Go for fool proof classic color combinations. Just go for an all neutral colors look. Great neutral color combinations are navy with beige, black and white, navy and gray, tan and winter white, or red and gray.
    • In winter, a skirt and cashmere sweater with a necklace and classic knee-high boots are always a great work outfit combination for a mature woman. Other great options are a wool skirt with a twinset and a statement necklace.
    • In summer, a white button-down shirt with a navy blue, mustard or gray summer wool straight or pencil skirt or a polka dot skirt are eternal classic options for a dinner with clients.
    • In case that the weather requires outerwear, your outerwear is an outfit too in which your clients will see you. Therefore, style your outerwear as well. A trench coat with a silk scarf is a no-brainer in spring and fall. In nasty cold winter weather, go for a wool coat in a classic color with a scarf and matching hat or beret when wearing boots. Be aware that at the restaurant, your bag becomes part of your outfit. Consequently, ensure its style goes seamlessly with your outfit also once you take your coat off.



Further Inspirations for Last Minute Separates Work Outfits

One of my favorite outfits is a denim skirt with a chambray shirt, red blazer and leopard heels like shown below.


influencer in instant business casual look of skirt, red blazer, button-down shirt
Vittari blazer with Oliveo chambray shirt, Oliveo denim skirt, GNW blue tights, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Strings of pearls, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, and Aldo leopard printed pony hair pumps. This classic go-to work outfit is accessorized with a multi-strings pearl necklace, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, and Kieselstein Cord belt


stylist over 50 in business attire of button-down, pants, jacket, loafers
Oliveo linen blazer, button-down shirt and Italian denim bootcut pants, Kieselstein Cord belt, Prada bag, pendant necklace, wooden sport watch c/o JORD, and pearl studs c/o Wendy Mignot


midlife woman in all neutrals pants and blazer outfit with colorful bag
London Jean boyfriends, True or Dare Madonna floral print patent leather pumps, Coach striped fabric bag and Vittoria linen blazer


Stylist’s tip: Have a blazer that goes with everything or an instant meeting outfit at work so you have the right outfit in a last minute business meeting situation.



How to Adjust Your Outerwear

When you have to go for lunch or dinner with your clients, customers and/or boss, your outerwear becomes a work outfit too. Therefore, always style your outerwear and make sure it looks professional/meets the work dress code.

Go for a bag that is large enough to carry some work material to convey the message “I’m willing to take work home.” In other words, “Dress to impress.” When you want to learn more about How to Dress for Success in Midlife you may want to buy my book.


Stylist’s tip: When wearing a short coat over a skirt or dress go for about two inch in difference with the hems so that 2 inch (5 cm) of skirt show. If the length of the hem is too short, belt the coat  to “shorten” its length to get the proportions right.


influencer in white leather pants fur jacket and hat rubber boots
Jacket with matching hat over white leather pants with Modalu Pippa bag, leather gloves, Hunter rubber boots, leather gloves. When the meeting requires a site visit, make sure your outfit work with your rubber or engineering boots.




stylist in hooded maxi shearling coat, hat, belt bag, tall boots
Long shearling coat with hood worn with a brimmed hat, floral scarf, Kieselstein Cord belt with ethnic belt buckle, Celine bag, Sanchez riding boots and gloves


Stylist’s tip: A great option to stand out of the crowd of black, gray and brown winter outerwear is to go for pops of color with your accessories like the scarf, gloves or head cover or even the bag.


Stylist tip: Have always a plan what to wear when you have to dress for work in a hurry.


Wrapping Up Instant Chic Work Outfits

You can have instant chic style. As pointed out above, the right dress cut for your body type is important. When you are 5 ft 4 or less, read these dressing tips for petite women for which cuts work best for you. Check this guide on how to master the style challenge when top heavy to pick the right dresses for your instant chic style when you have big boobs.

If your work place has a pants type of environment, read these tips for the best pants for your body type.


Photos of me: G. Kramm

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