Act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss and dress like a career girl. Easier said than done, right?
In time past, women had to dress to fit into the men’s world. But now, women can diversify their outfit with the advent of work fashion. You can have a professional, comfortable and functional look all at once with our work wardrobe essentials.
Theory, Ted Baker, Zara and Karen Millen, to name a few are top-notch designers who specialize in women work clothing making it easy to look both fashionable and professional.
I learnt a trick to check if your blazer is too big. While wearing a blazer, stand near a wall and slowly lean into it if the shoulder pad hits the wall first and scrunches up, it’s too big.
Deciding what to wear to work, every day of the week most times proves to be hard work most especially for female professionals.
Sorting, choosing the right colors, pairing the right dress pants with the right blazer and layering, deciding if French heels or a pair of oxfords will be more comfortable or if studs or drop earrings would be perfect for a Monday morning (or whatever day of the week) can be quite challenging.
What’s worse? You have to make such a decision every day of the week.
Let me share with you a 15 top work wardrobe essentials (I call them “must-haves”) for every boss lady who wants to be functional, comfortable and also appears professional in the workplace. So, take a deep breath and come with me as we explore the workplace fashion.
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15 Work Wardrobe Essentials for Every Woman
A blazer puts magic on your outfit. Perfect for a quick dress-up. It can accompany a sheath dress, a shell blouse, pretty blouse and even a tee in summer.
Aside from being the perfect fashion piece, a blazer comes in handy in case of an accidental coffee spill; you can easily throw one on and keep your cool professional look. I advise that you keep one handy just in case.
You should go for a fitted blazer because a loose or ill-fitting blazer gives the exact opposite of your intended look. I strongly advise every professional to keep ill-fitted blazers out of their work wardrobe.
Few Tips for Your Blazers:
You should be able to button your blazer without pulling or sucking in your tummy, at the same, your blazer should retain its silhouette when left open.
Ensure that the blazer is fitted across your shoulders, a stretched blazer gives a weird look.
Your blazer should not be tight. To check if your blazer is tight, raise your hands above your head, then stretch your hands sideways and finally, the stretch is straight in front of you. If making any of these motions is difficult, you know you have a tight blazer that would make you uncomfortable at work.
Your blazer should also not be too big. Flabby looking blazers add invisible pounds of flesh to your outlook and gives you a shabby look. I learnt a trick to check if your blazer is too big, while wearing a blazer, stand near a wall and slowly lean into it if the shoulder pad hits the wall first and scrunches up, it’s too big.
For colors, go for monotones and neutral colors like black, white, ash and nude. Navy blue is also an awesome color if you’re pairing white dress pants.
For flexibility and comfort, while still going with your office look, dress pants come in handy. Comfort and color are two significant criteria when shopping for a pair of work pants. You don’t want to be stuck in an uncomfortable work pant, 9-5. Your dress pant must be stylish and at the same time, cozy.
For colors, just like for blazers, monotones and neutral colors are just perfect for a pair of dress pants. You can also decide to go for lighter or darker colors depending on what you’ll be pairing your pants with.
A quick tip is to keep black dress pants handy for mornings you need to dash out in a quick rush. They help save time otherwise spent in matching colors.
A work bag not only amps your look, but it also makes your work much more comfortable and organized. Work handbags is an absolute necessity in your work wardrobe essentials as it completes your office look.
While shopping for a work bag, go for neutral colors and bigger sizes (of course not too big, as this would weigh you down as you commute to and from work).
Even if you pack light, you need a big bag for days when you need to pack a lot of things without appearing with a bag bursting at the seams.
A bag with both a cross-body strap and top handlers is an excellent choice for a work bag. The cross-body strap option helps while commuting and the top handling are suitable for a classic look.
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Button Up Shirts
Button-ups are perfect for all weathers and both layering and pairing with dress pants. Whenever you want to up your look, a button-up shirt with a blazer gives you the boss lady look.
Likewise, on days when you don’t feel like dressing all up, you can pair your button-up shirt along with a dress pant and a pair of oxfords.
On cold days, a button-up shirt fits well under a jardigan or cardigan. In summer, you can rock your button ups alone in the warm weather.
You just can never go wrong with a button-up shirt.
You have a wide variety of colors, patterns and styles to pick from but I’ll advise you to keep the patterns and colors simple to avoid a “shouting outfit”.
There are a few mornings when I stand before my closet and have no idea whatsoever about what to wear. On such days, my black dress is my saving grace.
You can be both cozy and professional in a black dress. On days you have a meeting, a black dress is great. It’s easier to breathe in, and it’s much more comfortable than a suit.
You are free to choose from a cap sleeve or a short sleeve or even a long sleeve depending on your style and taste.
As great as a black dress is, it can never wholly replace a suit. A suit consists of a blazer and either a pair of trousers or a skirt in a matching fabric.
A suit is an excellent choice for a big meeting or a presentation or even a job interview.
You can follow all the blazer tips and also ensure that the skirt is at least on the top of your knees and the silts. Do not go way up revealing your underwear.
You can wear your suits in colors ranging from black to navy blue to burgundy and even red. Just make sure that your accessories complement your suit.
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On days you don’t want to wear your pants or dress, you can trust a pencil skirt to keep you going. Pencil skirt does excellent work just like pants, but they add a feminine touch to your outfit. With a variety of colors and styles to choose from, a pencil skirt is an awesome choice all through the year.
I personally like skirts with extra details such as ruffles. With pencil skirts, you can keep your look classic and simple.
For more conservative offices, ensure that your skirt is at least calf length and your silts do not extend beyond 7-8 inches.
Perfect for layering a blazer in summer. A shell blouse affords the luxury of an ideal layering without worries of heat and sweating in summer.
Depending on your workplace, you can rock your shell blouse by itself or wear a blazer over it in a conservative office. This is a must-have wardrobe essentials for work.
A jardigan is a hybrid of a blazer and a cardigan. It is a great option for cold winter days. You can maintain your classic look and still keep warm with a jardigan.
You can wear your jardigan with a pencil skirt or over a sheath dress or even over a pair of pants. A jardigan is a perfect replacement for your blazers on a cold winter morning when you’ll rather prefer a cozy outfit.
Some women find a cardigan much more comfortable than both the blazer and the jardigan. A short waterfall cardigan would do well on a dress or blouse; you should add it to your work wardrobe.
A wrap dress is an excellent addition to your crisp white shirt, suits and blazers. With a nude/black pump, you are ready to start a new workday.
Black is an excellent choice for a wrap dress, but in case you have too many blacks in your wardrobe, you can go with a green, blue or even red color.
Ensure that when purchasing a wrap dress, you consider the largest part of your body. This helps you get a perfect fit.
Wrap dresses sometimes can appear casual, but you can wear a blazer over it. You can also go for monotones instead of floral and loud patterns if you work in a conservative office.
A camisole is an innerwear which can replace a button-up or a tee while still maintaining a classic look. A camisole is a perfect layering, especially when you’re trying to avoid showing off too much skin.
A demi camisole is camisole variant that ends midriff. It’s perfect for wrap dresses and also for a bra (if you’re comfortable with it).
While picking your camisole, make sure that the color blends with your outfit. A purple camisole under a green dress will mess up your look.
Also, ensure that you do not wear demi camisole under see-through blouses. A full camisole will be much better.
Another important wear on our best work wardrobe essentials is the Heels. Heels have a way of instantly turning casual looking wear into a work outfit once you put them on.
Classic and stylish, heels come in handy on days you have a short presentation, and you’ll like to appear at work in your very best.
Heels for work, as a rule, must be comfortable. I know it’s difficult to pair comfort with heels, but you just need to get heels you will be comfortable with 9-5.
Block and kittens are a sure bet for me, but sometimes I go with nude pumps whenever I want to up my game.
If you want to know if your heels are comfortable enough for work, try walking around the house in it for about 30 minutes, if you get too uncomfortable or your toes begin to hurt, then be sure that those heels will do you more harm than good at work.
For work, it is best to keep the colors between black, nude and brown.
On rainy days, it’s best to keep your water phobic heels and flats safe while commuting. You can wear waterproof boots from home and change into your heels and flats when you are at work.
If it is allowed in your workplace, you can go through the day with some stylish water-resistant boots.
If you can afford it, you can keep an extra pair at work in case it starts raining close to closing hour. Having this in your work wardrobe essentials will save you a lot of stress and stains on rainy days.
You can amp up your look or tone it down with your choice of jewelry. Why wouldn’t jewelry be a part of your wardrobe essentials! Hahahaha! It’s your choice.
In deciding whether or not you’re going overboard with the jewelry, I learnt that a general rule of thumb is that it’s okay to wear a watch or bracelet, a ring, a pair of earrings, and a necklace.
Also, do not wear more than one oversized piece of jewellery for work.
A diamond stud earring, pearl stud earring, a lovely pearl necklace and a gold, silver or diamond pendant necklace is a wardrobe staple.
Your timepiece is also essential. Some workplace is strict on phone use during work hours. Your wristwatch adds to your general outlook and also serves as an advantage in such a situation.
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Dress codes vary from one organization to another, to find out what is considered and inappropriate for you as a worker in an organization, you can speak with the HR department or take a clue from how your coworkers and boss dress.
And next time you need to go shopping for work clothes, don’t forget our top work wardrobe essentials.