Building a wardrobe can be difficult. And when we are trying to build a professional wardrobe, the stakes are even higher. Because after all, what we wear says something about us. We want to appear competent and friendly to our employers, coworkers, and clients. Because clothes are so important, it is easy to go overboard and purchase way too many pieces - things that we will end up never actually wearing. The key to a good wardrobe, however, is balance. A great business wardrobe will include a few base pieces, and pay more attention to details like scarves and jewelry. Here are a few essentials for the businesswoman's closet.
1. The Tops.
In the first place, you need to make sure that your tops are comfortable and breathable. Avoid stiff, scratchy fabrics at all costs, or you will wish you had! Consider getting 2-3 blouses (light fabric, like chiffon), 1-2 comfortable sweaters, and 2-3 collarless shirts for those days when you want a more casual feel. This will give you a broad range of styles with relatively few pieces to junk up your closet. Look ahead to #3 for layering tricks to help expand your wardrobe and keep you looking chic and professional year round.
2. The Bottoms.
Your pants or skirts will act as the base of your outfit. These will usually be solid colors, although you do not have to choose exclusively solid-colored bottoms. Here is a good start for your business-wardrobe: 2-3 pairs of slacks, 1-2 pairs of professional-looking capris, and 1-2 pencil skirts. Feel free to add a circle skirt as well if that style looks good on you. As you are creating outfits, be careful how you pair bottoms and shoes. For example, flats will look great with a slim pair of capris (and an elegantly flowing blouse), but heels work better with skirts.
3. The Layers.
One of the best ways to add interest (and functionality!) to your wardrobe is to use layers. A few things you will want are: 2-3 blazers, 4-5 scarves, and 2-3 open cardigans. Blazers can be paired with any of the tops in your closet - depending on weather and the temperature of your workplace, of course! The scarves will look especially nice when paired with your collarless shirts; depending on the style of your sweaters, that could work as well. The open cardigans will look especially nice when paired with your blouses. This is something you can really have fun with!
4. The Shoes.
Shoes are the spice of life, after all. So it is important to get them right. For the business woman's wardrobe, consider 2-3 pairs of heels/wedges, 3-4 pairs of flats, and 1-2 pairs of nice sandals for hot weather. If you live where it gets snowy in the winter, you will want to invest in a pair of booties and/or a pair of tall boots in the interest of keeping your feet dry! Once again, be careful with shoes. They can make or break an outfit, so how you wear your shoes is important!
5. The Jewelry.
Jewelry adds the final finishing touches to your perfect professional outfit. This is one area where you definitely cannot skimp! You should invest in 2-3 necklaces, 4-5 pairs of earrings, and 1-2 bracelets. If you use your hands a lot during the day, be careful with how many rings you use. But if you can, definitely add a ring or two to your wardrobe! One great rule of thumb is to have at least one understated piece of jewelry and one bold piece of jewelry in each category. For example, as you are necklace shopping, consider getting both a simple yet graceful necklace like this one and a bolder one if you choose. Do the same with earrings, bracelets, etc. You will have fun pairing these with different outfits.