Now that we know what we have and what is it that is both something we want to wear and appropriate for the office it is time to build our work wardrobe.
Just like the other posts this one has two parts. First start with the work wardrobe essentials, then build out adding fun statement items that allow for more mixing and matching.
Lets face it unless you are going to get $5000 from Clinton & Stacey (and we all know that ship has sailed), you aren’t going to be building a brand new work wardrobe in one shopping trip. That is why I know I will be starting with the work wardrobe essentials first.
So what are the Work Wardrobe Essentials?
The number 1 essential that every working person should have in their closet is a suit. Many young professionals eschew it in favour of less conservative pieces but if at the very least you wear it for interviews and break up the pieces to remix your work wardrobe then you have it for those reasons.
Still there are many conservative work environments where you need a suit or a peusdo suit (trousers and a blazer that are not a matching set) for the office daily. Plus I always suggest to wear your suit the first day of a new job so that you can assess the office for how everyone dresses.
The next most essential or maybe even as essential is the blouse. A suit can only get you so far, it does need some sort of top under the jacket! Also you can get away with only a few neutral bottoms, especially in the beginning when you are just (re)building your work wardrobe. But people notice when you wear the same top over and over therefore I would invest in more tops than bottoms.
Don’t ignore sleeveless blouses, especially if you live in a colder climate like me. They are great for layering under a jacket so you don’t go through that “I’m too hot with my jacket” feeling.
In the beginning the colour and fun of your outfits will come from your blouse so while having a classic oxford is great, make sure to buy fun colours too.
Next you will need more bottoms. Personally I am more of a trouser type girl but having both classic neutral trousers and pencil skirts will ensure you have a well rounded wardrobe. I would say that the minimum number of bottoms you need to start is 2, but 3-5 is more ideal. If you like skirts invest in more skirts, if you like trousers buy more trousers. Stick with classic neutrals to start (black, grey, navy, tan, olive) and add colour after the basics.
Shoes are something most people don’t have any problem with accumulating. But when it comes to options for the office a classic pump is the best starter shoe. A pointy toe flat is another great option especially if you have alot of walking in your commute.
You know what can really ruin a great work outfit? A ski jacket. Or some sort of outerwear that just isn’t appropriate. A trench coat is a great classic that you can transition into your weekend wear but also looks fabulous over work clothing.
You will need a good handbag that can perform many tasks. Hold your lunch, carry files, your laptop, plus all the usual tasks like hold your essentials and on top of all that look great with your work outfits. A classic structured bag is a good go to for this job.
Ok so I put alot of emphasis on classics and neutrals in the first half of this post. But somehow you need to infuse your own personality into your work outfits. Now colourful blouses are one way and the best way if you are starting from scratch. Statement jewellery is another way but I know that for as many girls who love a bold statement necklace there are those who don’t like them.
The first thing I would add to my work wardrobe is more blazers. Not just an additional structured classic in another colour other than your suit jacket, but a knit jacket or boucle blazer, or something bolder like stripes or florals. Depending on how formal your work environment is you can incorporate cardigans and knits. These completer pieces are key to remixing!
In addition to blazers adding some printed or colourful bottoms. Just like a bold blazer is great to pair with neutral trousers, a coloured pencil skirt or printed pant pairs well with a classic jacket.
Prints are actual fantastic for mixing and matching your wardrobe. All of the colours within the print are options for building an outfit.
I didn’t put alot of emphasis on dresses as essentials for a work wardrobe. I personally think dresses are a fantastic and easy option for getting dressed for work. But because they are one piece there are less options for remixing. Not that you can’t wear a dress in a totally different way (with a belt, with different shoes, different necklace, with a jacket), but ultimately I would only wear the dress once in a week, whereas I could wear a pair of black trousers or a black pencil skirt more than once.
What do you think? What are your work wear essentials?