April 4th, 2007
What to Wear, Work Wardrobe
Building a Fashionable Work Wardrobe
By Claire

Hey Guys,

So reader Amaka contacted me on myspace.com, and asked the following question:

I wanted to know if you could do a lil feature of fashion in the workplace (preferably corporate). I have been looking for a job and i am kind of hesitant…

That’s a great question. Getting a work wardrobe together is difficult, especially when you’re just getting started.
Every workplace is different (I wore pencil skirts, french cuffed oxford shirts, and pumps for a full year at my job before I figured out I could wear jeans and flats everyday!), but you can’t go wrong with the following basics in black, white, or a neutral color:
1. Pencil or A-line skirt
2. Pump
3. Crisp oxford shirt
4. Cardigan
5. Tailored pants
6. Tote bag
7. Structured Jacket
8. Work Appropriate Dress
9. Flats
Most items will have to be pretty traditional so that you can add accents without clashing. Here I compiled a few basics plus a couple of traditional items with a twist (for those who don’t want the typical boring, ho hum fair):

Top Row: Solid Cropped Cardigan, $39.50, www.gap.com; Croc Braided Shoulder Bag, $168, www.anntaylor.com; Martin Chino Trouser, $78, www.bananarepublic.com.
Middle Row: Arturo Chiang Gigi Patent Flat, $98, www.bloomingdales.com; Isaac Mizrahi for Target Georgette Ruffle Dress, $40, www.target.com; Tahari Papi Pumps, $110, www.macys.com.
Bottom Row: INC International Concepts Ruffled-Cuff Trapeze Jacket, $119, www.macys.com; J.Crew Slim Stretch Shirt, $59.50, www.jcrew.com; Michael Michael Kors Pencil Skirt, $79.50, www.nordstrom.com.
For pants, I also personally endorse Express Editor Pants. They fit me well, never need to be altered, and look professional, all for the reasonable price of $70. Visit www.expressfashion.com for an Express near you.

On top of your foundational items, you’ll need a few accents: tops, dresses, jackets, or shoes in bold colors, prints, and saucy fabrics to mix things up. Don’t spend a ton on these if you can: You’ll tire of them easily…and your coworkers will too! My choices:

Top Row: Geometric Silk Top,, $27.80; www.forever21.com; Elizabeth Gillet Ruffle Cardigan, $78, www.lordandtaylor.com; Maestro Embroidered Swing Jacket, $88, www.nordstrom.com.
Middle Row: Lux Summer Cardigan, $48, www.urbn.com; Floral Sleeveless Wrap Dress, $148, www.anntaylor.com; Ruffled Blouse, $24.80, www.forever21.com.
Bottom Row: Seychelles ‘And the Winner Is’ Pumps, $84, zappos.com

Aqua Cross Dye Swing Jacket, $58, www.bloomingdales.com; Marc by Marc Jacobs Shoes, $235, zappos.com

A few caveats for those just starting off. Steer away from sheer shirts and thigh grazing hemlines. Also stick to conservative, neutral colors and silhouettes until you get a feel of the office environment.
Now get to work!
Smootches!
PS Want more outerwear options? Visit my post about Trenches here. Want more bag options? Visit my post about bold bags here.
PSS I’ve heard from a couple readers that my ‘clockwise from top left’ description of items was confusing. I have no idea why I didn’t just do it by row to begin with! But I’ve revised the descriptions of items in the trenches and bags posts so that it’s easier for you to find items…and will go row by row from now on!

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9 comments

9 Responses to “Building a Fashionable Work Wardrobe”

  1. tightambitionz@aol.com says:

    Girl you are so on point!! I was just looking for a few affordable pieces to add to my work wear..Thanks!

  2. tightambitionz@aol.com says:

    PS i like the row by row as well ( =

  3. Mikele says:

    EXCELLENT Post. My work wardrobe is lacking and I certainly needed some help! Thank you!

  4. Mikele says:

    Actually all aspects of my wardrobe are lacking… but that’s another subject!

  5. Anonymous says:

    you’ve done it again! Execllent post and extremely relevant for your readers.

  6. Anonymous says:

    P.S. Row by row is soooo much better. Still waiting for the roll over pop ups though.

  7. SiTv says:

    See thats why we over here at sitv like this blog. You tellin the truth girl!

    its hard enough trying to dress respectable but still a lil fashionable.

    thanks for the tips

  8. Mekko :) says:

    I forgot how I got to your site, but this post is so great. I’m pretty clueless about great clothes for work so thank you for the lovely post!

  9. [...] Fashion Bomb 101: 10 Classic Wardrobe Basics for Work and Play, our Summer Work Wardrobe Guide, and Building a Fashionable Work Wardrobe. *For my PR girls, get even more tips in this archived Breaking into Fashion interview with Bonnie [...]

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