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Your Professional Wardrobe [Women’s Edition]

The Staple Items You Need in Your Professional Wardrobe

Transitioning into your all-grown-up professional wardrobe can be a tricky task. While you might be dreaming of looking polished and professional, knowing where to start to achieve the look of the young professional who has it all together can seem like a mountain looming in the distance.

A wise soul once shared with me a little nugget of wisdom when dressing for success: build your professional wardrobe over time. While this might not be the most profound statement you’ve ever heard, it is something to keep in mind as you select your classic staples and trendier accessories.

Now, what should the first wardrobe purchases be for your new grown-up job?  We’ve got you covered:

Pencil skirt
The pencil skirt is flattering on literally every figure under the sun. Choose one in a neutral color such black, navy blue or gray (or all three). These basic colors will be a solid foundation on which you can build the rest of your outfit.

Dresses aren’t considered outfit multipliers because you are fairly limited to what you can do with them. However, the little black dress can be paired with multiple accessories to keep your look fresh. Select an a-line, sheath or wrap dress with a modest crewneck neckline. Keep it knee-length or slightly above your knees to keep it workplace friendly. The best part about the LBD? It is just as stunning in your morning meetings as it is during happy hour.

Wearing flats to the office everyday can leave you feeling, well, flat. Putting on a pair of heels is an instant pick-me-up. Black pumps and nude or beige pumps are the best choices to match your outfits and accessories. Select a heel less than three inches both for comfort and walkability.

The fitted blazer
Blazers are must for putting a polished finish on any outfit. However, it is crucial that your blazer of choice fits you properly. Have it tailored (if need be) and don’t be afraid to invest in this piece–you will wear it forever. Again, neutral colors are best but you can also spice up your workwear with patterned blazers, especially with lovely florals or geometric designs.

The white button-down
As with the blazer, make sure this piece fits you perfectly. You will be able to pair it with your pencil skirts, jeans on casual Friday or as part of your three-piece-suit. Its workability is endless as it is an essential outfit multiplier–it can be worn in hundreds of different combinations with other pieces.

A functional handbag
Remember: functional doesn’t automatically mean unattractive. Select a medium to large handbag that is big enough to carry all of your work essentials. Choose a neutral color so it will fit in with anything you might choose to wear. While brightly colored bags seem fashionable, you aren’t going to want to pair your dark green bag with a red dress and risk feeling like a holiday tree in the middle of summer. Pick a handbag in a color with maximum outfit and situation flexibility.

Straight leg jeans
Some of you might work in places where casual attire is the norm. But others might welcome casual Friday every week as an oasis in a desert. Don’t fall on the low-end of casual and wear yoga pants to work. Keep your outfit stylish with a pair of dark wash straight leg jeans. In some more relaxed environments, you might even be able to wear them on days other than Friday.

Once you know what your investment pieces should be, you can shop around for a-dime-a-dozen knit tops, cardigans, flats, statement jewelry, and lighter weight dresses to pair with your classic pieces. Time to go shopping, ladies!

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.