Amy Clark

What Would You Buy?: An Ultimate Work Wardrobe

Amy,

I recently discovered your website and have really enjoyed it! I am also an Aldi fan and am trying hard to live within my means. I have a problem I was hoping you could help me with. I am returning to work very soon and after years as a stay-at-home Mom, suddenly find myself without any decent clothes to wear to a job. Faded blue jeans and old t-shirts have worked okay at home but they aren’t work-appropriate!

Whenever you post a picture on your site you always look so pulled-together. Can you help? I am going to be working in a business casual environment – even a well-fitting pair of boot-cut dark wash blue jeans would probably work on Fridays. Other than that – where do I start? I have about $250-$300 to put towards new clothes. Any suggestions??? Maybe even some websites that could help?

Congratulations on paying off your debt and cutting up those cards!!! Your party must have been so much fun!

Thanks,
L.

Well, it has been about four years since I have been out in the trenches of the working world, but I will do my best to answer this question. If you are a working woman of the world and have had good success shopping anywhere, please let our sweet reader know so she can do some hunting.

Since this is an office-casual environment, I think it will be a lot easier to tackle than the more formal office wear. Here are some of my suggestions for a great work wardrobe.

Bottoms-

Apostrophe Essential Pant- I have actually worn these and they are an amazing fit! They are a lightweight material that doesn’t attract pet hair or look wrinkly after being worn all day. They also look seamless, with no distracting pockets or details that seem to draw your eye towards the problem areas. The material is lightweight and these could be worn through all of the seasons. They have these in black & gray- both are great choices for work. I just really love these pants and they are a steal at only $24.98 each!

Tops-

apt. 9 Herringbone Blazer- This blazer is great for summer and you could transition it into the fall with the addition of a long sleeve t-shirt. This would look great with a pair of black slacks and a cute camisole or even could be paired with a pair of jeans and ballet flats to dress it down. I wear this style of blazer a lot and I just love how versatile it is! They have a similar style available in black as well (which could pair nicely with a gray pair of trousers or jeans) Currently on sale for $29.99.

Xhiliration Dolman Sleeve Top- This would be a great addition to a work wardrobe too. I love the style of this top because the sleeves make it dressy enough for work or you could wear this on the weekend with a pair of cute sneakers. I love the Kelly Green & the Black for basic pieces.

These are just a few examples of great items that would work. For a starter work wardrobe, I would recommend:

1. Two or three basic pairs of flat-front trousers (black, gray, khaki)
2. Two or three camisoles for layering (white, off-white, and black- Target offers these at affordable prices in the lingerie section of the store)
3. A short sleeve blazer (could be a basic color or a fun print that would work with neutrals)
4. Two or three long-sleeve or short-sleeve basic shirts for layering (I love the Old Navy or Mossimo brand for these) that could be layered under blouses and jackets. Pick your sleeve length based on the season.
5. One or two blouses (You could keep these basic in black, white, or pink and use hair and jewelry accessories to switch these up or you could go with fun prints and and use a basic black blazer to tone down for a different look. Look for the cap-sleeved shirts, as they are popular right now and make a blouse look a little more girly)
6. One pair of dark-wash jean,for the office casual environment. I love jeans from The Limited, Old Navy, or Gap.
7. A pair of basic black ballet flats, black heels (to dress up your jeans), and one pair of fun shoes (fun print or an unexpected color)
8. A nice neutral handbag

When I was trying to help my husband with his work wardrobe, I would actually look in his closet and piece together things that he didn’t put together. This can be fun to do with your spouse, if they have an eye for what looks good, or a good friend. Invite someone into your closet and have them look at what you have and your new pieces and have them come up with ideas for things that could work together too. Sometimes it takes a new pair of eyes to see all of the possibilities

Finally, if you are really short on cash, ask if you can raid your friend’s closets to help you until you get those first couple of paychecks. My best friend and I exchange clothes often for special events and occasions and it has saved me more money than I can begin to tell you. My wardrobe has great pieces and her wardrobe has great pieces. Together, we create an ultimate wardrobe that makes life events like these a little easier.

Sound Off: What are some places that you would recommend shopping for a work wardrobe? Are there any basic pieces that you would add to my list?

Published April 27, 2008 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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