How to Build a Professional Wardrobe

Before I started my new job, I stopped at a few of my favorite stores for some additional pieces to add to my work wardrobe. My search always begins with Loft, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, and J. Crew (but by the time I get to Banana Republic, I’ve usually found everything that I need to get me through at least the first month of employment).

If you are new to the professional world, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to build up your collection. Here are my key staples:

How to Build a Professional Wardrobe

Blazer: I love a well-fitted blazer…even when I’m out of the office. I have quite a number of them in my professional arsenal, but my favorite has to be my grey one from Theory. It fits me so well that it seems tailor-made for me.

Pants: Banana Republic is my go-to for dress pants. I prefer the factory outlet — because the prices are better, and I know that I will find what I am looking for in their generous petite selection. I’m no fan of having my pants hemmed, so my main requirement is that they fit sans alterations.

Dress: For those days that are full of meetings (or when your alarm clock fails you and you need to run out the door in mere minutes), you’ll be glad you have a professional looking dress to throw on. I’ve resorted to such tactics on plenty of occasions. There is nothing worse than running late and having to ponder whether your outfit matches. Do yourself a favor, invest in these key pieces.

Heels: After working at home for the last 13 months, my shoe game was lacking. I needed a pair (or two) of heels — and that’s where DSW came in. I picked up a pair of suede Vince Camuto’s (which, once I break in, will be a favorite) and a pair of black patent leather Michael Kors. Just remember to be mindful of the heel when examining and trying on shoes. Nobody wants to come home from a first day limping with sore feet — take it from the expert on that one! Walk around in a pair — and picture yourself wearing them for a full work day. Then decide whether you want to buy them.

Bag: I’ve been using my black Coach messenger bag since I was a freshman in college. It has accompanied me on many a first day, whether to school or the office — and still shows little sign of its age. But when it does finally need to be retired, I see another Coach bag in my future. I like bags that can accommodate anything from the day’s lunch to an extra pair of flats, without feeling like you are carrying your life on your shoulder.

What are some of your work staples?

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