Professional Wardrobe Essentials

Monday, October 8, 2012

I recently had a girlfriend reach out to me and ask me to please do a post on how to put together a professional wardrobe. I immediately said yes, and then kicked myself for never doing this sooner. I remember those days when I was fresh out of college and I went with my mom to buy my first pencil skirt and blazer from Macy's. We spent way more money that I ever wanted, but my mom picked up the tab and told me they were investment pieces. Don't tell my mom, but I've still never worn the skirt :D I have learned a few things since then, and I want to share them with you.

I have tailored my post today, to those on a tight budget, but isn't that what I always do ;) My favorite stores for work wear are New York and Co., Kohls, Macy's, Target and believe it or not... Kmart. I also have found a plethora of professional clothing at thrift stores as well.

Remember if you can, it's okay to spend a little more money on your work wardrobe. These items are are not going to go out of style  and you will want them to hold up after repeat washes. All the retailers above have great sales going on almost year round. Don't be afraid to shop around, make sure you're finding the best deal and the best fit for your body. BEFORE you take the tags off, try on all the separates together to make sure they will make a cohesive look!

Every professional wardrobe begins with 3 pieces. From those three pieces, the combinations are endless!


1. Trousers/Slacks
2. Tailored Blazer
3. Pencil Skirt

You can buy all three of these pieces in a suit set, or you can piece them together, which is my preference. The traditional colors for a suit set are Black, Grey and Navy. If you are starting from scratch, I would go with black. Black is great for a variety of reasons. First, it matches every color and patten. Second, if you are going to buy these separate, black only comes in one hue and is easier to match different brands. Navy and Gray on the other hand, vary in hue depending on the brand.


Once you have the basics for your professional wardrobe, you will need a few more things to keep your wardrobe fresh and interesting....



Start with a variety of work appropriate blouses. I would suggest multiple colors/prints with varying necklines. You only need 4 to start with, but you can build your collection as you make more cash ;)

I would also invest in a nice dress. I love the gray tweed one above, because it is neutral, but a great base to build upon. You can wear the dress by itself, or you can layer a blouse and use the dress as a skirt.




In addition to the clothes, you need some footwear. You can get by with only one pair of black pumps if you have too. I would suggest however, having a pair of nude pumps and metallic flats too. Nude is the new black and you can wear them with anything! If you're like me, you have those days where you can't do a 4 inch heel, so I like having a pair of flats for work too. I love the idea of silver metallic flats because they add something extra to your look but are also pretty versatile.





As for the accessories, this is where you can skimp on quality and focus on quantity. Having a variety of jewelry, scarves and belts are what will diversify your pieces and make them look like a brand new outfit. I would suggest going to Forever 21, H and M, and your local thrift stores, to pick up these detail items.

Don't be afraid to buy a few statement pieces, like these chunky necklaces & bracelet cuffs. You can experiment with prints via a fun scarf. A scarf is a great way to incorporate pizazz to your look without feeling like you skinned a cheetah. Last but certainly not least, I am a huge fan of belting anything and everything! Pick some belts in fun colors to also add flair to any wardrobe. Don't be afraid to belt over your blazer too for a different look!


What are you professional wardrobe staples? Do you think this is helpful for putting together a work appropriate look?



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