Working in an office day in day out, it becomes a bit of a challenge to put together outfits every morning. I would love to tell you that I plan ahead and pick my clothes out the night before, but in reality I’m the worst at that task. Even when I have planned out an outfit, I end up changing it in the morning anyway–the weather just doesn’t cooperate with what I planned, or I just don’t feel like wearing a certain top. It has definitely helped me to have basic pieces on hand. On those mornings when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, or I just need something to polish off an outfit, having these essentials has been a life saver. I have found that searching stores’ outlet websites and waiting for sales helped me save a lot of money on these basics. If you buy items that are good quality, they will last a long time, but you will need to replace them here and there, especially those pieces that you wear frequently throughout the week. Its also good to have multiples of some items, in case you drop your bagel, cream cheese side down, on your black pants …not that I’ve done that or anything.
Black and navy blazers
Having quality, sharp looking blazers will elevate your outfit to a very professional look. Other than interviews, you can also wear them to the office to give your outfit a more polished look. It’s also a good layer to add in the winter when you need something over a blouse or another top, and if you need an extra layer in the office. My favorites are from Tommy Hilfiger (can be found at Macy’s) and J. Crew (factory outlets, for the win!).
Black pants–skinny and boot cut
I own a few pairs of skinny/ankle length pants and a pair of bootcut pants. The skinny pants are my go to for day to day work outfits (check some out here). For me, they feel more modern than other fits and go with everything and still look professional. You can pair them with pretty much any type of shoe–flats, wedges, pumps, boots. It all works. Bootcut pants are a great addition for more professional looks, for important meetings or interviews.
White button down
I honestly don’t wear my white button down that often, but it is important to have. I bought a nice basic one from Anne Taylor outlet several years ago and still have it. If you invest in quality, they will last you for years and serves as a great fall back. (Tip: If you sign up for the Ann Taylor or LOFT credit card, you will get a discount. Also, every first Tuesday of the month you get an extra 10% off, which you can combine with other ongoing promotions!) Here is one they have now.
White and black camisoles
On any given day, unless it’s 100 degrees, I dress in layers and I wear camisoles all.the.time. If my top is V-neck, I don’t want to be showing too much cleavage at the office, so these are perfect. They are also a good layer to add in the cold weather under a sweater or a blouse. My favorite ones are from Express and Gap and you can always wait for a sale and get them pretty cheap. I replace them every once in awhile, but these are good quality and will last through many wears and washes. I also have a couple other colors on hand like grey, teal, and off-white.
A few years ago, I don’t really know exactly when, Express came out with their line of Portofino shirts. I started out with a couple and now I own several more. It is such an easy shirt to pair with almost anything and they are available in so many colors. Loft has similar styles and I also really enjoy sleeveless blouses made of the same material, which are good for transitioning between seasons and easy to pair with a blazer or cardigan. Look out for sales at Express, sometimes the Portofinos are buy one get one 50% off, or get them when the entire store is 40% off.
I purchased a pair of black Alfani pumps from Macy’s about 5 years ago, and still wear them to this day. I have had the heels repaired once (the heel had worn down to the nail), but I have worn them so much they paid for themselves within a couple months. You cannot beat a good, quality pair of pumps. I leave a pair at the office so I can put them on quickly when I get to work and don’t have to worry about matching shoes to every single outfit. Use your Macy’s coupons or hit up DSW for basic office shoes.
Cardigans are basically my holy grail of clothing. I think have 5 black cardigans in my closet. And yes, I get use out of all of them. They are easy, they go with almost everything, and they keep me from freezing in the office. You can find great basic ones almost anywhere but the ones I have gotten the most use out of were from Gap, Banana Republic, and Anne Taylor—all of which you can find great deals at outlet stores or on sale.
Here’s a good article I found with some other great wardrobe ideas and essentials.
What are some of your work wardrobe essentials?