Wardrobe Essentials for Work
Whether you’re a fresh graduate trying to navigate the tricky new territory of building a wardrobe for your first job, in the midst of a career change, or simply just wanting to refresh what you already have, don’t stress. We’ve got you covered. Here’s our go-to guide for building your workplace wardrobe with fashion and style staples that wont break the bank.
Consider the Workplace Vibe
Are you in a conservative, corporate office where modesty is key? Then you’re going to need to curate a polished look. Are you an artsy type working in a laid-back creative agency? Jeans and sneakers might be acceptable here. Context is everything. Make an effort to research the dress code for your workplace ahead of time. When in doubt, take things up a notch. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially in a professional workplace.
Another thing to consider is what you’re actually going to be doing every day. If you’ll be passing most of your daylight hours parked at a desk, by all means, go for those heels. On the other hand, if your role requires you to be running around between locations, you might want to opt for flats. Remember that your style is there to aid your work, not inhibit it.
Plan Your Palette
By doing some work in advance, you can save yourself the headache of having a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear. It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure most of the items in your arsenal go together. How do you do this? It’s all in the colour palette!
Try picking a base colour or two (you can’t go wrong with black or brown) that will tie most of your basics and accessories together. Pick up a few neutral pieces – grey, white or tan are all smart and versatile. Finally, pick a maximum of four accent colours to scatter throughout in the form of accessories or trend pieces. Are you a fan of vibrant prints? Excellent! Now you can whip out that statement necklace or bright shirt knowing it won’t clash with the rest of your outfit.
Collect the Staples
Unless you find yourself in an uber relaxed workplace (refer to part one) there are a few basics with which you can’t go wrong. The first is a white collared shirt. Pair it with jeans in a more relaxed office or a skirt if you’re part of the corporate world. This classic item never goes out of style.
Grab yourself a pair of neutral high waisted pants. From smart and tailored to drifty culottes, the options here are endless. Be inspired by screen siren Katharine Hepburn, who knew how to rock a wide leg trouser long before they were in fashion for women.
If you haven’t already, add a dark blazer to your wardrobe. Black or navy are timelessly glamorous. Make sure it’s tailored well to fit – you want to look elegant rather than daggy. For a slightly undone look, roll up the sleeves.
Want to shake up your office look a little bit without raising any eyebrows? A tan pencil skirt is a great way to add a modern touch to your outfit while still keeping it classy. Aim for a cut that ends just above your knees. It should be fitted while still giving you room to breathe. Remember, the more comfortable you are, the better your body language.
Just because you have to adhere to an office dress code, it doesn’t mean your shoes have to be boring. While it’s best to avoid stilettos in most workplaces, heel lovers can opt for a classic pump instead. Just make sure they’re comfy enough to last the day.
Things to Leave at Home
We love bold fashion choices but there is a time and place to make them. Unless you work in fashion or a similar creative industry, there are some items more suited for Saturday night cocktails than Monday morning at the office.
Most office dress codes will ask that you avoid anything too revealing or figure-hugging. We bet you look amazing in that plunging minidress, so save it for the weekend when you can really show it off! Anything sheer and transparent also falls under this banner. Even sleeveless tops may not be appropriate in some workplaces. Play it safe on your first day and take your cues from the people around you.
Make sure your garments are always washed and ironed. Stains and wrinkles spoil even the most polished get up!