How to Build Your Work Wardrobe

Whether you love or hate it, picking out a work outfit is something you have to do every day. The way you dress for work is the way you present yourself as a professional, but many people struggle to choose what to wear. Want to develop the perfect work clothing collection? Keep reading to learn seven steps to build your work wardrobe.

1. Check Your Employer's Dress Code

The first step to building your work wardrobe is to understand your company’s dress code. Usually, you can find this information in your employee handbook, but if it’s not there, pay attention to how other people at work dress — business professional, business casual or casual?

2. Think About Your Daily Routine

As you build your work wardrobe, it’s important to consider the function of your clothing. If you spend much of the day on your feet, be sure to invest in high-quality shoes. If you work from home, you might prioritize comfy clothes. Spend more time in the office? Make sure to find professional, office-appropriate clothing.

3. Start With Work Wardrobe Basics

Once you get shopping, start by searching for basic pieces. Find layering pieces like plain colored shirts, and look for versatile bottoms and shoes that you can pair with many outfits. Consider grabbing other work staples like blazers, cardigans, trousers and pencil skirts. The key is to find simple pieces that you can wear over and over; statement pieces come later. Make sure to keep your company’s dress code in mind while you shop.

4. Get Style Inspo

After you have the basics, it’s time to get inspired. Consider creating a Pinterest board to collect work outfits you like — you can emulate them later with the clothing items you own. Use search terms like “business casual outfits,” “fall workwear” or “cute professional outfits.” Save the ones that stand out to you so you can reference them. You can also explore fashion blogs or magazines to get more inspiration.

5. Find Your Colors

As you build your work wardrobe, an easy way to make sure your collection matches is to find your colors. Do you prefer to dress in neutrals or bold colors? Are there certain colors that you feel happier wearing? You can also research your color season, the array of colors that best complement your skin tone, eye color and hair color.

6. Infuse Your Personal Style

Now that you’ve laid the foundation of your work wardrobe, you can infuse your personal style into your closet. If you have any favorite accessories, see how they look with your new wardrobe; accessories can give your outfits more personality and visual interest. If you’re searching for more unique pieces, try thrifting. Thrift stores full of affordable pieces that you often won’t find at other stores, like vintage blazers or jewelry.

7. Test Outfit Combinations

With a collection of basics and statement pieces, you’re ready to try out different outfit combinations. If you’re not sure where to start, use a formula like:

  • Basic top + statement blazer + solid pants + neutral flats
  • Statement dress + neutral heels
  • Neutral top + patterned pants + white sneakers

You can also return to your Pinterest board and try to mimic outfits with the pieces in your closet. As you try different outfits on, take photos of the ones you like. Keep them in a folder or phone note that you can reference on the days that you just don’t feel like putting an outfit together.

More Tips for Dressing for Work

Here are some additional tips for making the most of your work wardrobe:

  • Pick out your outfit the night before. Ever rushed to pick out an outfit and turned your closet into a tornado of clothing? Avoid the stressful feeling by choosing your outfit the night before work.
  • Don’t be afraid to rewear clothing. There’s no shame in wearing the same clothing pieces more than once. If you want to make them appear differently, then pair them with different clothing items or accessories.
  • Maintain your clothing. Follow washing instructions and iron your clothing to maintain its appearance and longevity.
  • Wear what feels good. Ultimately, one of the greatest things about fashion is that you have the freedom to wear what you like. Within the guidelines of your dress code, choose outfits that you feel good in — plain and simple.


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