Friday, May 7, 2010

Work Wardrobe 102

And now here's the second part of my work wardrobe post: what to get when you've got basics and want to liven things up or look a little more authoritative in your new job, like Ashley.

When you're first starting out, you want to get clothes that you can wear as much as possible, which means neutrals and classic pieces.  However, once you've got all the basics you need, you get to have a little fun with color and outfits that are too memorable to wear every other week.  Here are a few things to consider when you're looking to supplement your business casual collection:

Mad Men Dresses
I love the knee-length fitted dresses that started popping up when Mad Men got popular.  There's a reason that the silhouette has been around since the days of Sterling Cooper - it works for an office and on lots of body types.  Fit is super important here, there should be no bunching, and it may take some tailoring to get it right.   The fabric should also have some weight to it so that you don't have to wear spanx to keep the lines away.  If you get a black or gray dress, I'd pair it with jewelry that has some color and fun shoes (note that I said fun, and not sexy).  If you're lucky enough to find a jewel tone, pounce on it.  You can also use these dresses as base layers under your cardigans when it gets cooler.

The Limited Sleep Scoop Sheath Dress
Banana Republic V-Neck Stretch Sheath
Style & Co Sleeveless Belted Sheath ($40!)
AGB Sleeveless Belted Sheath ($40!)

The Non-Suit Jacket
Stacy and Clinton aren't lying when they say a fitted jacket works wonders.  I only have two, but I like them as a top layer over a white tank with my dress pants or a skirt.  It still says business, but not in a stuffy way.  I like the short sleeve and 3/4 sleeve versions best since they are less job interview outfit-ey and let you show off a cool bracelet.  These jackets always end up on sale at The Limited, so keep an eye on that sale page (or rack) and you may walk away with some unique jackets for about $45. 

The Limited Two Button Swing Jacket
The Limited Ruched Neckline Jacket
Express Belted Military Blazer
Express Essential Stretch Belted Shirt Jacket

Embellished Shirts
Once you've got all the white/black/blue shirts you need, you can start looking for bright colored button downs with special detailing like pleats or a ruffle.  Most all will look great tucked into one of your pencil skirts, and you can pair with trouser jeans on Friday (if that's allowed) if you'll be seeing clients or leading a meeting.  However, don't go overboard with frilly details or overly sheer/floaty fabric.

Banana Republic Ruffle Placket Shirt
The Limited Pleated Button Front Shirt
LOFT Cascading Ruffle Button Down

Stylish Coat
Yes, I know you don't sit at your desk in a coat, but people see you coming in or at the airport.  You need to have a chic coat that you wouldn't wear to build snowmen. 

Via Spiga Cashmere Blend Wool Walker Coat
DKNY Long Coat
Lands End Canvas Heritage Trench Coat

Colored/Patterned Skirts
Though you may not wear them all the time, a patterned skirt is a nice option to have with your basic tops.  I see a lot of these on sale racks, so you can probably find some good deals.  My hunch is that women (like me) don't want to drop $70 on something they can wear maybe every three weeks without people going "is that the only skirt she has?" because it's so memorable.

The Limited Dart Waistband Pencil Skirt
Express High Waist Plaid Pencil Skirt
Tommy Hilfiger Ikat A-Line Skirt

Of course there will always be great things that I didn't mention that you can integrate into your work wardrobe (I didn't even try to cover shoes and jewelry and purses) but this should be a good start.  If I missed something you find to be super wearable, let me know.  Happy shopping!


  1. Just found you blog and I love it. I'm a frequent Limited shopper and it is great to see them get some love. I have the short-sleeve red, black and white jacket you featured from Limited. In fact I wore it yesterday!


  2. Thanks Connie! I try to show everyone what you can do with affordable pieces that are easy to find. Glad you like it!



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