It's HARD to dress well for work. Casual wear is SO much easier. I've talked to a few people recently who are new to a professional setting and are having trouble building a solid wardrobe for work that isn't ridiculously expensive AND is age appropriate. If you are coming straight from college or from a more casual workplace, it can be hard to build enough of a wardrobe to change your look up so that you aren't wearing the same thing every day (especially if you are a teacher-- those kids watch your wardrobe like a hawk!) There are lots of teachers who have been teaching for years who still struggle with shopping for work; they rather spend their efforts shopping for weekend wear, athletic wear, or not shopping at all, and they struggle with the idea of an entire work wardrobe.
Here are the few pieces you'll need to include in order to have a really solid work wardrobe!
- The black work pant
What is the easiest way to dress up almost any top? Pair it with a good pair of black work pants and you can call it a day. I have been searching high and low for YEARS for a good pair of work pants that are skinny fit, but not leggings. I haven't been able to find them at all until two weeks ago when I waltzed into Express and saw them! They are linked here! They are high-waisted enough that I don't show panties when I bend over, and are not tight enough to look like leggings. I absolutely love them!
I do NOT like a long belled pant because I feel like the only way they look good is with heels, and GIRL I am not wearing heels to teach in everyday. #sorrynotsorry. I always go for an ankle pant since it looks great with flats or sandals! I have many many pairs of black pants, almost all tapered leg and ankle. Add in color if you're feeling adventurous, you just won't get as much wear out of them as you will a basic black, gray, or navy unless you're okay with someone saying "there goes Mary in her red pants again!"
The other day I was at Loft and a woman was trying on some pants and was worried that they were too short. The saleswoman was like, "oh yeah, let's try the next size up" and I had to chime in! I told her that they looked GREAT and ankle pants are the way to go! They don't look stupid unless they are belled. If you have a skinny-fit pant or a straight-legged pant, ankle length is where it's at!
-The tan heel or sandal
Look at any of these pictures on this post and you'll see me in some sort of tan sandal or heel. It is almost all I wear because it blends with anything and makes my leg look longer. As a short girl, black shoes tend to cut me off and make me look shorter than I am. I am a tan shoe junkie, can you tell??
The best part is that if you find a well made shoe, you can wear it forever! I spend more money on my clothes than I do my shoes. I try to make my shoes not so flashy so people can't tell that I wear the same ones all the time. If you buy a lot of colored shoes, people can tell that you wear the same ones over and over, but a tan shoe is pretty boring and nondescript, thus making it a staple piece!
- The solid tee
Plain tees are my best friends during the school year. You can dress them up or dress them down, depending on what you want to go for. They transition super easily to the weekend and are just my favorite! This particular tee is from J Crew Factory and that is my JAM for plain tees. You can get the best deals on them and they don't lose their shape or pill.
The biggest thing you need to look for when working with a solid tee is FIT. Sometimes, if they are too loose, they look way too casual and not appropriate for work. I really like a V-neck, but you can do scoop neck, boatneck, anything! Buy a few types and switch it up! My favorite part about these tees is that they are super fairly priced and can allow you to wear patterned or more interesting bottoms without having your top and bottom compete with each other.
Not EVERY day has to consist of a fancy or interesting piece. This green tee I just wore with some black staple ankle pants. Nothing really that interesting, but it is a great outfit for a Wednesday when you just don't want to think about wardrobe. Buy the shirt in different colors and necklines and wear them every single day!
- The cardigan
This look adds together lots of the pieces I mentioned earlier- dress pants (these are navy!), tan sandal, plain tee. The CARDIGAN, though, is something necessary to bring my weekend staples into the workplace. I love a good tank, but I know that's not something I should be wearing at work without something to cover my shoulders. The answer?? A simple cardigan!
I have about a gillion cardigans in every color, shape, and arm length. V neck? Crewneck? Three-quarter sleeve? Long sleeve? Oversized? Longline? I've got it. This one is from J. Crew Factory and is the style I go to most, but there is a cardigan for everything.
If you can't tell, J. Crew Factory is FOR SURE my favorite place to go for work wear, but I have found great cardigans at so many places: Loft, Target, Forever 21, Express. Look around and grab a good cardi when you find them on sale and wear them FOREVER!
- The solid-colored dress
A plain dress can be the best staple to have for work because you can change it up in so many different ways. Add a cardigan (see! Cardigans are the must-have staple of world!) Add a necklace. Wear a pair of statement earrings. Change the color of the cardigan. They are just such an easy way to look professional- just make sure they the dress is LONG enough!
I like tank dresses so that I don't have so many layers under my cardigan. The cardigan is usually a PART of the look. I find that when I buy dresses with sleeves, they are just so limited in the way I can change up the look. Depending on the top of the dress, sometimes I can wear them sans cardigan, but I could always add one on if I wanted to give the dress another dimension.
T-shirt dresses or swing dresses are my ABSOLUTE favorite. Old Navy and Forever 21 are my favorite spots to find these. Just make sure that if you are going to wear a cotton dress that you WEAR A SLIP UNDERNEATH. Nobody wants to see your underwear cling to your dress. It is NOT cute and is such a faux-pas that I see at work ALL THE TIME.
If you're searching online for dresses, use key words like "swing dress" or "trapeze dress" and they won't be too fitted!
Let me know if this helps! Tell me if you have any work wardrobe staples that aren't included here! I always like to add and change up my look as much as I can!
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