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!
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!