A couple weeks ago I got a question on Instagram that really hit home for me. I got asked what my 6-8 workwear staples were. Genius! Why hadn’t I thought of posting this before? So, if you’re just starting to build your business professional wardrobe, this is for you!
As someone who goes to work in an office Monday through Friday, I feel you. My day job is near and dear to my heart. And I have so much freaking love for every single one of you that does it just like me. It ain’t easy. Not only that, but looking cute in a professional workplace can be a challenge. That said, it makes a difference and can give your career the boost you’re looking for. Trust me. And it doesn’t have to come with a high price tag.
So what are my staples? I combed through my closet to search for the pieces that have been with me the longest and have gotten the most wear. These items are essential to any girl’s professional wardrobe. I’ll be completely honest in saying sure, they’re maybe a little bit boring. But building a collection of cute business casual pieces takes time. Give yourself a break and start with the basics. You’ll get to the stylish dresses and funky blazers later.
Why did I specify a skirt suit? I talked about why I don’t believe in conforming to male standards a little in this post. You’re a girl, embrace it. Don’t pretend to be something that you aren’t. While pants might be a little better suited (pun intended) for colder months, my go to outfit for an interview is a skirt suit. This is the one piece I’d recommend investing in.
Sometimes, going on interviews feels like you’re doing the summer wedding tour. Back to back meetings, a thousand questions asked and answered, and 30 resumes printed on fancy paper. You’re lucky to remember your own name at the end of it let alone that of the interviewers. But make them remember you.
My favorite suit is by J.Crew and they have a version of it every season. You can buy the blazer and skirt separately which is nice in terms of sizing too. I searched so many stores to find a suit that didn’t make me look 2 decades older than I really am when I first graduated. The fit of this blazer still keeps it young and classy. Plus, a skirt is much better than pants (at least on my body type).
I’d recommend getting black too. While it’s a little boring, you can easily dress it up with any color button down, blouse, or even a cute ruffled top underneath. The bonus? After you land the job, you can wear the skirt and blazer separately to work. In corporate America, no one wears suits every day unless you’re in banking, real estate, or maybe sales so this is how to get the long term wear out of these pieces!
PS. if this J.Crew suit is still too much of a splurge item for you, try NY & Company or Express until you save up. Both are always running promotions and have affordable prices to start. Fun fact: 80% of my business casual was NY & Company when I worked in consulting!
Find your favorite brand and buy some classic black pumps. These come in handy all the time. They were a gift to myself and worth every penny. If you’re on the hunt for a budget friendly pair, I strongly recommend these. They look more expensive then they actually are. And lastly, if your feet are sensitive to higher heels and/or you want your legs to look super long, these are my favorite! I have then in beige and grey!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love this black skirt and it lasts SO WELL. The A-Line cut makes it much easier to fit different body types, it never fades, and it travels pretty well. I’ve styled it quite a bit in my work outfits of the day for the last 2 years! Here is more skirt outfit inspo. I also found a similar style from LOFT if you’re on a budget (which I also shared here with a lace cami).
These can be worn alone, under blazers, layered with your favorite v-neck, or effortlessly half tucked. Nordstrom has really stepped up their button down selection over the past few months too! This blue one was a classic and this one under $30 is such a great deal plus it comes in 5 prints/colors! Buy basics like these until you’re comfortable in your new workplace to start mixing and matching with the more unique pieces!
I’ve also been wearing Frank and Eileen shirts for years but if you’re just starting out, I’d wait to splurge on them. I own my fair share of J.Crew Factory too and I love them all equally!
This is my favorite blouse of all time and it’s only $25. You can pair this with jeans, leggings, business slacks, skirts, and even that suit I was talking about. It’s incredible how often this thing comes in handy. After having the white for a season, I bought the olive and the pink color earlier this year. If neither of those sound appealing, it comes in 7 colors total (colors are always coming in and out of stock though) so there is bound to be something for everyone!
Here are some more insanely affordable blouses I’ve been loving lately an almost all are on sale!
As someone who regularly has to bring her work home with her, I can’t tell you how important it is for my work tote to be able to fit my laptop. Sure, stylish satchels like the one I’m carrying in today’s post are amazing but on a daily basis, I’m usually toting around a much bigger bag. Here is my favorite one of all time for work! The quality is AMAZING and you can monogram.
So admittedly, this is my favorite of these 7 workwear essentials. I also can’t tell you how many coworkers have complemented me on my selection of dresses throughout my career. As I mentioned above, take your time building up this area of your wardrobe. You’ll want to find dresses that are classic. Pieces that you won’t grow out of in a couple years. I typically look for items by Eliza J, Adrianna Papell, or Tahari. While all 3 make a variety of dresses for different occasions, I really like the cuts and styles of each of these brands.
This LBD is my favorite. It travels really well and can be restyled for weddings and weekends. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it! Here are a bunch of other dresses on major sale that will last you a long time!
8. Classy Color or Printed Dress.
Almost as critical as the little black dress! Here are some of my favorite that I’ve had my eye on lately like the one I shared on Instagram!
Okay ladies, so how did I do? Do you want to see more workwear outfits from me? I’ve been sharing my daily work OOTDs on Instagram Stories as much as I can so you can always follow me there for more real time inspiration. I’ve also shared a few tips on how to make what you already have work for the office!