Miuccia Prada said, “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”
Ask any career expert and you’re sure to be reminded that what you wear to work matters.
Your presentation can communicate so much about yourself, your abilities, and your organization, and clothes are a big, big part of that professional presentation. Wearing an outfit that communicates the intended message – accomplished, capable, and intelligent – help you win over prospective clients, colleagues, and corporations while leaving a lasting, positive expression.
For many millennials and new grads, investing in an uber posh, The Devil Wears Prada closet full of couture power suits isn’t really feasible (nor necessary).
By identifying a few key (and versatile) wear to work essentials, you can build a fantastically professional wardrobe that makes a splash without breaking the bank.
Here are five office wear essentials every working woman needs:
A Brazen Blazer
I love, love, love blazers – they are a great way for me to transition from the classroom to the boardroom, and back again. I keep a couple classic colored blazers (black, navy, tan, and pinstripe) on hand, and am careful to mix it up with structured shells and more relaxed fits depending on the day of the week. You can add a blazer to almost any dress pant + blouse combo and have a smashing suit, or you can drape it over a classic shift dress or even pair with a tee and jeans for a couple other outfits.
My favorite place to score budget-friendly blazers? Target.
Perfect Fitting Black Shoes
Heels or flats, loafers or pumps – pretty much anything besides flip flops and stilettos – can work as a working woman shoe when sporting a conservative color. You can rarely go wrong with a pair of black dress shoes (mine are a favorite pair of two inch, closed toe, Nine West black heels that I found at a discount fashion store) as they go with almost everything workwear related and can be used to “dress-up” almost any outfit. The key with work shoes: make sure they fit really, really well.
My favorite place to find that perfect SoHo slipper? DSW.
Classic Sheath Dress
One of my favorite work accessories, especially during the warmer months, is a simple sheath dress (think 1960’s super-tailored) in a professional, solid color (black, navy, red, etc.). These lightweight classics turn your morning “What should I wear?” dilemmas into a no-brainer, as their fitted lines go with just about everything. Grab a string of pearls, throw on a patterned blazer, and step into your little black heels, and you’re ready to rock the working world with a millennial gal’s equivalent of the power suit!
My favorite place to find classy dresses? Ann Taylor.
She Means Business Bag
My favorite place to find a she means business bag? T.J. Maxx.
Poised Pencil Skirt or Tailored Dress Pant
A base colored, form fitting pencil skirt (think: black, navy, pinstripe) is another working woman’s closet must-have. Go for something sleek and simple that projects attention onto your power blazer or determined expression. I prefer traditional colors for dress wear; however, many powerful fashionistas totally rock something with a little more color personality, like pastels, prints, and even shades of neon.
If you’re not a skirt kind of girl, or it’s simply too cold where you live to exposure those ankles, a well-tailored, solid-colored dress trouser can more than complement a “smarty pants” profesh outfit. I’ve recently exchanged many of the pencil skirts in my closet for dress pants – it gets really, really cold in Kansas!
My favorite place to find a poised pencil skirt or tailored dress pant? J.Crew.