6 office wardrobe essentials

Your office wardrobe is meant to enhance the professional image and reputation you have or are establishing for yourself. Regardless of your talent and skill if you do not dress appropriately someone with half your skill may get more opportunities if they dress for success. While this may seem unfair, it is reality. You can build a solid work wardrobe if you have the right foundation items. Here are six office wardrobe essentials that you can build your work wardrobe from.

White Dress Shirt

The white dress shirt is the cornerstone of the professional wardrobe. It is a component of the classic career suit. This shirt also works well as a separate to be mixed and matched with trousers, skirts, cropped pants and even jeans (when allowed). The standard white dress shirt for women should feature the following:

  • A standard convertible collar
  • Button-down center front closure(no pullover and no snap closures)
  • Straight cuffs that fasten with a button

Neutral Color Blazer/Jacket

A neutral color blazer or suit jacket is a career wear fundamental that is pegged to be a hot trend for fall 2012. Besides being trendy, the neutral blazer can turn an ordinary pair of slacks and basic shirt into a work appropriate ensemble. As an added bonus, it helps to take the chill off when the office central air makes it feel like your bottle of water will soon turn to ice. Look for these features when shopping for an office blazer or jacket:

  • Standard notch collar
  • Single-breasted
  • Lined
  • At least a single button closure in front

Solid, Neutral Color Sheath Dress

Seems as if I am stuck on neutral doesn't it? Neutral colors tend to pair well with a wide spectrum of colors from brights, pastels to other neutral shades. The sheath dress is a smart dress option for work. It works well under a blazer, even under the basic white dress shirt. Features to look for include:

  • Sleeveless (easier fit under a jacket or blazer)
  • Moderate, scoop neckline
  • Knee-length or longer

Black Pencil Skirt

The black pencil skirt is the classic office skirt. It is lady-like, professional and even sexy. These features are critical for the black pencil skirt:

  • At least knee-length (no minis allowed)
  • Standard, straight waistband
  • Back zipper with either a button or hook-and-eye closure
  • No pockets
  • Plain styling (no ruching, tucking, embellishments or additional style seams)

Black Pant

The black pant is the perfect item for the white dress shirt. A trouser-style pant is the best choice. However, any straight-leg, relaxed fit black pant will work if it has these other features:

  • Plain, knit, twill or crepe weave (no leather, suede, denim, jacquard, satin, or napped fabrics)
  • Standard, straight waistband
  • Belt loops
  • Side slash or inseam pockets
  • Front sipper with single button or hook-and-eye closure
  • No additional style seams or embellishment

Dress Loafer

Your choice of footwear plays a critical role in your office attire as well. How seriously will you be taken wearing stilettos or "stripper" shoes to work? The loafer is a safe choice. Look for these features in your office loafer:

  • Leather upper
  • Stacked heel
  • Heel height no higher than two and a half inches
  • No platform sole

These six fashion items will help you build a professional office wardrobe. Selecting plain weave fabrics is best for all of these pieces (except for the shoes). When buying trendier items, think of how it will work with your foundation garments before purchasing. If it might clash with them then your item might be too trendy for work.

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