I’ve worked in a professional environment for the past five years. But I am learning every day that there is a big difference between teacher fashion and office fashion. I’ve talked with my fellow office-working friends a lot about the struggles and pitfalls that come with putting together an professional wardrobe, and I’ve decided that together we shall overcome. I’ve spent the past few weeks observing, researching, and talking this issue out until finally I feel I’ve come to some good conclusions. So here we go:
ALICIA’S TIPS FOR DEVELOPING A PROFESSIONAL WARDROBE
- Start with staples: No matter the weather, your age, or current fashion trends, there are certain clothing pieces that are always good to keep in your closet. Invest in good dress slacks, solid-colored blouses or shirts, knee-length skirts or dresses with sleeves, and a comfortable pair of basic black heels.
- Staying neutral: Keep in mind that most printed pieces will only be fashionable for a few years. So while that sweater covered in elephants may be adorable right now, make sure you’re forking over the big bucks for items that are more often black, grey, navy, tan or white. Colors that appear on the cooler end of the spectrum (greens, blues purples) also go with all body types and skin tones, and they will allow your work clothes to last for a long time.
- Layers are your friend: The temperature in most office environments is unpredictable on a good day, so I’ve made sure to always have some sort of jacket on the back of my chair to grab when needed. And instead of a big bulky parka, look for cute blazers or cardigans in neutral tones to give your outfit that extra pop of presentation, while also helping you stay warm and snuggly. Plus, the benefit of layers means that there is more room for color in your wardrobe. As long as your outer layer is a more neutral color, you can have more fun with picking cute, bright colors to wear underneath.
- Accessorizing splurge: Once you’ve bought the basics, there is room to mix and match and add colorful accessories! Kick that boring, practical business suit up a few notches with a printed scarf, a dinosaur necklace, some sparkly accent earrings, or that beautiful pair of shoes you just couldn’t leave in the store. Accessories can also help you transition basic multi-seasonal pieces from winter to spring, while also allowing you to find the balance between practical and fashionable.
- Minimize your closet: Every year, as I pull out my sweaters for fall (or my dresses for spring), I make sure to go through my entire wardrobe and get rid of clothes I’m not wearing anymore. Be honest with yourself at this time. If you haven’t worn something in over three months, you’re probably not going to wear it again anytime soon. A cluttered closet Plus, getting rid of your old stuff like this makes room for the results of your next shopping spree!
In the end, remember this: “When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear,’ what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I am supposed to be today’” (Caitlin Moran). Clothes are only a part of who we are. These are only suggestions. Because in truth, we all know we’d rather be on the couch sipping wine and eating Oreo’s in our sweatpants.