Building a work wardrobe can be both thrilling and daunting. For those like myself who doesn't have the luxury of a huge dressing room, the top priority is bound to be multi-functionality, versatility, the ease to mix-and-match; and of course, to achieve this without compromising your style.
The broad principle to remember is:
Load up on basics, focus on cut, go easy on the patterns, and indulge in a few showstoppers.
Top - Reformation/ Pants - Club Monaco / Shoes - Stuart Weitzman / Jewellery - Dior
Always consider your budget, work environment, taste and lifestyle. Don’t feel like you have to rush out and buy them all at once! Invest in quality, classic pieces that you are going to wear or use regularly (for me, that's shoes, jewelries and bags), and mix them up with high-street and more inexpensive style pieces to stay in trend (which you might not wear it after a year).
This checklist, with tips on fabric and style choice, will hopefully help you in building a collection of outfits that fits all sorts of professional and social engagements x
1. Pick your base neutral and consider the overall colour palette.
Colour speaks a lot about you. So your task here is to pick a base neutral; probably black, navy, gray, or beige. This ensures your clothes will go together and can be a huge time saver every morning! Take into account what colours are your favorite items, and the accessories you currently have.
Then, pick two or three colours for accents. For me, vivid colours like cobalt or red work well. But you can always choose softer ones like light blue or mint.
2. Get your power suit on
Every professional woman must have a power suit that enhances your confidence and strength. A tailored, lightweight style pulls whatever you're wearing together and adds structure. I love Theory for its stylized and thoughtful designs; and don’t limit yourself to black suits - more ideas in my previous post on modern tailoring.
3. Bottoms - skirts and trousers that work for you
Pencil skirts are nice and often mentioned as the must-have, but only if they work for you! You can switch it up for a-lines or flared skirts to avoid accentuating your lower body, or change up the office look with midi skirts.
Again, whether you like trousers or skirts is personal and depends on your body type. Trousers are easier to move around, and there are plenty of styles – everything from a cropped skinny leg, flowy pants, or high-waisted flared trousers can work in a office setting.
It’s better to pick minimalist and unassuming ones (keeping in mind your staple colors), and try tucked or untucked to see if it bulges around the waist! Also carefully consider your fabric choices: wool is pretty trust-worthy, but cotton can be tricky.
Alice and Olivia, Vince, and other high-street options like Zara and Topshop are all great for work.
A collection of shirts is definitely the professional staple. In landing the perfect button-up, consider these factors:
(1) Fabric weight (paying extra attention to its sheerness).
For example, oxford shirts are perfect for the office, whereas poplin might be too casual.
(2) Pattern: pinstripes and plains are best; florals and polka dots might be better left to blouses.
(3) Colour: white goes well with everything in your closet and makes a professional statement in its own right
(4) Fit: Length, and it should button without too must pull or slack in the chest
I love shirts from J.Crew since they fit perfect on a petite and those from Equipment in virtually any style, color, and pattern.
5. Blouses, camis, and cardigans
While men are stuck with the collared, button-up variety, you can have fun with it and pick up anything from a cami to a silk blouse. A professional wardrobes would not be complete without a few great blouses to compliment everything else we’re building. Choose your tops with "simple, light, and elegant" in mind, and it should not be too revealing.
Shoes don’t have to be expensive - we want to look nice but also comfortable. It's important to consider what your job might be like when investing in new work shoes. Sitting at a desk all day? Heels are totally fine. On your feet all day? Loafers or oxfords.
While I highly recommend classic black pumps, sophisticated flats will do wonders for your wardrobe too.
And every season we load up on flats that are both chic and comfortable (and, because they’re flat, you can also be a bit more adventurous and go for a print or metallics).
This is a no-brainer, because dresses save you so much trouble in pairing separates. This everyday hero should also take centre stage in your workdrobe, because they are just so versatile.
Recommended for all offices are wrap dresses (they are like the professional LBD) - they allow you to move easily yet look poised; form fitting at the waist at a decent length; and look good under both cardigans and blazers. Of course, a few Diane Von Frustenbergs would be nice, but there are plenty of office friendly stores that stock it - like Ann Taylor, Mango, Club Monaco, and Banana Republic. A big no, however, is given to mini dresses.
8. PERSONALISE it – Accessories and colours for accents
I saved the most important for last. This is what adds character and makes your outfit alive.
For me, it's all about a sleek handbag and jewelries. In terms of your statement bag, think gorgeous on the outside, practical on the inside. Consider your job requirements and what you will realistically be expected to carry around every day, and purchase a bag that will accommodate this. Some of my favorites include Saint Laurent sac de jour, Celine luggage, and Prada totes.
As to jewelries, I adore a timeless watch and some delicate earrings to complete my outfit. In terms of colour, if you like wearing grays, you may want to go with silver pieces; if you’re doing beige, go with gold. I always like white jewellery as well — pearls, white moonstone, etc.
The Dior earring and rings I'm wearing has the best of both worlds and a very distinctive design: mother-of-pearl on one side and a 18k yellow gold wind rose with diamonds on the other (a reinterpretation by Victoire de Castellane of Monsieur Dior's lucky star ). A twist of grains encircles the medallion, which turns to switch between the two sides. The gemstones represent different qualities: for example, mother-of-pearl is a symbol of gentleness, femininity and well-being; pink opal with protective properties; lapis lazuli is an emblem of serenity and friendship; onyx bringing positive energy and diamonds, the embodiment of purity.
La Mini D De Dior Satine Watch / Rose Des Vents Ring / Rose Des Vents Earring - All from Dior
Trinity De Cartier / Tiffany T wire ring / Atlas open ring
The new La Mini D De Dior Satine watch is also a staple - the pink mother-of-pearl dial with polished Dauphine hands makes the gives it a chic and precious refinement. It has such a romantic story behind. The original La D de Dior watch was created for a woman who likes to borrow her man’s watch, so that she always thinks about him. The new petite version features a slinky Milanese mesh bracelet, and is endlessly elegant.
My other staple rings include those of Cartier and Tiffany & Co.
While building a professional wardrobe may feel a bit overwhelming at first, keep this checklist on hand and you will be well on your way to an enviable professional closet in no time!
Partnered with Dior -
Discover the ROSE DES VENTS COLLECTION and La Mini D de Dior Collection