6 Steps to Your New Year’s Work Wardrobe
If office farewell cards are the informative plaques of one’s achievements, then mine from my first job were frivolous indeed – “Good luck, we loved your outfits” was a neatly penned sentiment I remember quite distinctly. Even leaving aside any aspersions as to my effectiveness as a lawyer vis-à-vis my sartorial feats, this one-liner was doubly curious as it came from that pretty girl in coms. Said girl, by her stereotype-affirming pencil skirt and stiletto heel uniform, I gathered would have thought of my minimalist aesthetic as nothing other than matronly.
That is not to say, of course, that I cared any less about my appearance in the office. My focus, rather than to wow my co-workers with one punchy look after another, was simply to maintain an effective work wardrobe that made for instant morning prep. This, it seemed, was the object of admiration for the PR girls in adjacent cubicles.
When it comes to workwear, it is not always easy to hit the sweet spot between stylish and professional, and one does very much want to be both. It’s not necessarily having the most fabulous Dolce suit or Victoria Beckham dress straight off the runway, but the key is an effective work wardrobe that sets you up for put together looks every day. So here are my six steps to build your perfect New Year’s work wardrobe:
1. Cull what you haven’t worn in the past 6 months
The best place to start building your work wardrobe is to clear out all those pieces that you haven’t worn for months. This is not just to make room for your new wardrobe, but a principle that underpins any capsule wardrobe. The minimalist understands that things which do not add to our lives are almost certainly taking something away. If you don’t reach for them in the morning, then there is probably a really good reason. Perhaps it is not comfortable, doesn’t fit right or most importantly, you simply don’t feel gorgeous in it.
2. Shop your off-duty wardrobe for staples
Before you go out and buy yourself a whole new work wardrobe, go shopping in your off-duty wardrobe for potential occasion chameleons. There is no rule that you always have to be in a suit and shirt at work. As long as it is a luxe fabric and a tailored fit, it is probably work appropriate. For example, plain t-shirts, tank tops or camisoles are great basics to pair with tailored pieces. Even casual dresses can be made work appropriate by simply throwing a blazer over top.
3. Invest in at least two beautiful suits
Now that you’ve taken stock of what you already have, you can start thinking about revamping your work wardrobe. I always suggest securing your bread and butter work staple, the perfect suit. Shop widely and meticulously and find at least two perfect suits. If there is one that you really love, buy it in different colors, and also in the pant and skirt versions. While a black suit is a must for its endless possibilities, have at least one in a different color. For versatility, stay in the neutral palette, like gray, taupe or navy. One two- or three-piece suit has infinite mix and match possibilities.
4. Curate your collection of tops and dresses
The key to having infinite work outfit choices is in a fantastic collection of tops and dresses. A few beautiful white shirts in crisp cotton or slinky silk is always a good idea, but look outside the box to lacy blouses, printed shift dresses and camisoles in every color. Every office has different dress code standards, but the general rule is that the work outfit should not be too revealing. Therefore, long or quarter sleeve tops are always work appropriate, skirts should be knee length or longer, and tank tops or slips should be worn under blazers.
5. Mix and match
The key to an always put together work outfit rotation is to mix and match. Your suits can be worn together or worn as separates. Since you have kept your suits neutral, they can be paired with just about any of your tops and dresses. Generally, outfits with at least one tailored element will be work appropriate, for example, a casual blouse and tailored pants or a blazer over black jeans.
6. Inject new pieces
Even the best work wardrobes will benefit from a shake-up once in a while. However, rather than going out on a shopping spree, even a single well-considered piece can bring new life to your outfits. Occasionally reassess your wardrobe and identify what is missing. Maybe it is time to add a wide leg trouser or a dress with a full skirt to change up your silhouette. However, to keep your work wardrobe from ballooning, swap out something old for something new where possible.
Article by Jiawa Liu