Career Couture: 10 Essential Pieces For Your Work Wardrobe
Gone are the days when boring suits and dowdy work clothes were office mainstays. In today’s professional world, there is far more room to explore and embrace current trends and fun fashions while still maintaining the decorum expected in an office environment. Whether you’ve been in the work force for years or are just starting your professional journey, MadameNoire has you covered with 10 essential pieces any stylish career woman should have in her clothing arsenal.
Crisp Button Down Shirt
It goes without saying that a crisp button down is a must-own for any working woman. Its clean lines and simplicity are timeless and can pair harmoniously with virtually any outfit. There are styles to fit almost any preference, from a traditional cotton collared shirt to a silkier blend with a little more movement. Whichever you decide to go with, just be sure you pay attention to fit. A button down that’s too baggy will look frumpy and unstylish, while going too tight will leave you open to the dreaded button gap and bra peep show.
Shop Suggestion: We love Express’ Portofino Shirt
Years ago it was all about the statement necklace — jazzing up a plain outfit with a bauble-heavy, sparkly necklace. And while we still love a good chunky neckpiece, we’ve moved on to something with a little more impact: The statement skirt. We adore the idea of spicing up a work outfit with a fun skirt. Whether the impact comes from the cut itself or via a striking pattern, pairing a bold bottom with a simple T-shirt and nude pumps is the perfect balance between work and wow. Our only caution is an obvious one: Don’t do too much. Don’t go too short, don’t break out the sequined mini and leave the high slits at home.
Shop Suggestion: Check out Anthropologie for work appropriate, yet fun skirts
Little Black Midi
It’s a no-brainer that having a little black dress at your disposal is a necessity for any professional woman. But to add a little something extra to the mix, might we suggest nabbing yourself a sleek and sexy little black midi dress. The cut and length are flattering for women of all shapes and the silhouette will perfectly balance sophistication with sass.
Shop Suggestion: White House Black Market’s Little Black Dress Shop is a must visit.
Fun and Flirty Dress
We’ll add one caveat to this suggestion: This can be a tricky one to pull off in a super formal business setting (we’re looking at you finance). But if you’re in an office environment that might be on the more laid-back or creative side, then tapping into your inner girly-girl in a clever way could make for a killer work-day look. A cute a-line dress with a few lace embellishments or a carefully-selected, cap-sleeve maxi with a conservative slit can be the perfect ensemble for a summer Friday at work.
Shop Suggestion: Score some great feminine styles at Modcloth
Much like the crisp button down we spoke of earlier, a solid pair of wide-leg trousers are a perfect go-to in any career woman’s closet. We are big fans of rocking wide-legs with a more form fitting top and a solid pair of pumps (more on that later). Whether opting for summer linen or something a little heavier in colder weather, wide-leg pants have a sophisticated and classic vibe that will make you look the part in any meeting or during any presentation.
Shop Suggestion: Ann Taylor is a terrific resource for great, fashion-forward work wear.
Instantly work-ify any pair of jeans with a sleek, well-fitted blazer. This versatile piece can work well for more casual looks or top to bottom suiting. Our advice: Have three blazers in your closet: A traditional black single button blazer; a lighter, more nautically-inspired pinstriped piece; and a smart navy blue number. These three will quickly become go-to additions to your work wardrobe and can be grabbed in a pinch if you get pulled into a last-minute, unexpected meeting and need to dress up an outfit.
Shop Suggestion: Check out Bebe for some badass blazers
The Wrap Dress
Thank the high heavens for Diane Von Furstenberg! In 1974 this style icon introduced the legendary wrap dress that has helped to inform decades of women’s fashion and has continued to be a fool-proof look for sophisticated ladies. The beauty of the wrap dress not only lies in its clean, simple design, but also in its effectiveness among women of all body types. Apple, pear, curvy, the wrap dress is a flattering look for a variety of shapes, helping to accentuate the feminine form in a way that is sexy, yet professional.
Shop Suggestion: DVF all the way at Neiman Marcus Last Call
The Perfect Pump
We cannot stress this enough: Nude pumps are a must-have in any woman’s closet, for the office and out of it. Whether rocking them with a form-fitting pencil skirt and T-shirt or dressing up jeans and a blazer with a little height, pumps have the flirtyness that we love with a classic look that befits the office and the rooftop happy hour. Two bits of advice: Keep the heel height in check. It’s probably unnecessary to tower over co-workers in 6-inch heels. Also, do yourself a favor and grab shoes with either built in traction or spring for that adhesive padding to make sure you’re not slipping and sliding throughout your day.
Shop Suggestion: Aldo is one of our favorites.
An Enviable Purse
The cherry on top of any great outfit is without question a killer purse. We will say, however, that you don’t need to hightail it to the nearest Coach or Dolce & Gabbana location to score the most expensive handbag they are churning out these days. The only requirement on the purse front is to get something that is unique, that embodies your style and that has conversation starter potential. And also, be sure to get something that can pair nicely with a good chunk of your wardrobe. The worst feeling is to score the ultimate purse, only to have it not work with anything in your closet.
Shop Suggestion: We love Bloomingdales for all your purse needs
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but we’d be remiss to not include a solid pair of shades in our work wardrobe must-haves list. We suggest going the classic route, with a pair of black or tortoise shell shades.
Shop Suggestion: Grab some sweet shades at Sunglass Hut