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Stylish and Sassy for a Little Bit of Cashy
Sure, we all envision our first day in the office as a fierce, Miranda Priestly moment, where we walk in wearing our best sheik pantsuit; hair in perfect place, complimentary three inch heels included. The problem is that post-graduate life doesn’t afford us the budget that goes along with those Gucci suits and Louis Vuitton heels. An old friend put it best, “Champagne taste on a beer budget will get you every time”. So, back to reality ladies! Here we are, young professionals. We’ve done something right to get here, but what will keep us here? We can’t just show up every day with a brain full of knowledge. That would be absurd to think that the mental part was the only part that mattered, right? Soft sarcasm always was my strong point. No, no, in today’s office environment, we also must look the part; and unlike our male counterparts, we need to carefully navigate the pitfalls of the female office wardrobe. You know, that well-constructed pie chart that pits classy and stylish against professional call-girl; yet again pitted against, trying too hard for attention-girl. So here we are, trying to dress nicely, showing we are sophisticated, smart and have style on our newly designed budget, at our newly obtained job.
The good news: WE CAN TOTALLY DO THIS! With just a few key pieces that can be reused weekly, we can look the part and play the part! We don’t have to break the bank. Yes, that’s right, you’ll still have money for weekend social scenes and semi-cheap boxed wine. So, where to begin? I always start with the basics; color, cut and clarity. Think diamonds ladies, because you want to look like an engagement ring; too expensive for everyone to have, yet affordable for the right person. In an office environment; this is predicated on the fact that you don’t work at Google or some other ultra-hip, we’re free to be us…whoever that is today, office, you always want to stick with neutrals. Remember, we don’t have time or money for the one pink blazer that you think you’ll wear a million times, but in reality, only wear a few times a year. We need the basics that we can transition from outfit to outfit. So, back to the neutrals; this includes black, grey, tan, taupe, cream, beige and white; NO BROWN! Brown is boring and will not go with as many things as you think when its sitting in your closet. These neutrals apply to all clothing types; pants, skirts, tops and jackets. They also all interchange. In other words, a khaki jacket can be worn with a black skirt. This is exactly why we like these pieces. We get two for the price of one! This is key as we work on a budget. You don’t need 3 black jackets. You need one black jacket that you can wear with 3 other outfits. Think quality, not quantity.
Next is the cut. Cut refers to the type of top, skirt or pants suit. We want to look for something that can transition from day time office attire to dinner meeting or drinks with clients. This is key in purchasing a piece. This means we want something with timeless details, but nothing too bold. While the black jacket with the pearl buttons might be epic for our wardrobe, and we can transition it from day to night; and even from work to weekend party, we can’t wear that jacket more than once in a week, because the details will be too easily remembered by our cube-mate. We want a nice black jacket, preferably without pockets, fitted, cropped or full sleeve that could be rolled up if required. This jacket can be worn with a black skirt for the Monday meeting, or worn with a tan pair of ankle cut pants with a black belt for the Thursday work day/Happy Hour at five. Same rule applies to skirts and pants; no bold details unless we have extra cash to exceed our basic clothing budget. You can never go wrong with a classic pencil skirt or a pair of grey, skinny pants.
Finally, we take to the clarity. This refers to how the piece looks in all your many positions. Don’t get too excited ladies, we’re not wearing a khaki suit quite in that way! I’m talking sitting and standing. Is the skirt long enough to ensure if we drop a pencil, we won’t end up in Human Resources? Yet again why I say you can never go wrong with a pencil skirt. Do we need to iron the jacket; leading to my real question, how wrinkled does it get? What material is the best if you are sitting in the car for a long commute? Do we honestly think linen is the best idea if we are going to look like a bag of rolled up Lays potato chips when we get to the office at 9am? Clarity is visualizing the outfit, or the piece as you sit, stand, walk, bend over, etc. Make sure that you look nice at all times. I hate to tell you this, but there will be moments where someone sees you bending over to pick up something on the floor in the break room, or sitting in a meeting for an hour in an uncomfortable chair or position. The piece needs to flatter you. Remember you’re wearing it, it’s not wearing you! You don’t want to look like Ann Hathaway in the mirror before work, but find out later you look like a busted can of biscuits grabbing a file from the bottom drawer of your file cabinet!
To recap, we need:
· Key pieces we can wear across multiple outfits
· Neutral tones
· Pieces that fit with room to maneuver throughout the day
I promise you can go crazy with pops of color in your under-wardrobe. This is what I use to describe anything under the jacket or sweater piece. If you wear a khaki suit, you can stay with your neutral tones if you’re being conservative. But, if you want to add the color, then throw in a flowered sleeveless blouse with your pencil skirt and cardigan, or a bright red button down. Remember, you can always use your shoe or accessories as your pop of color too. If you stay conservative on the suit, a red heel or chunky necklace can add flair to your style without trying too hard.
Ok ladies, these are my tips for your office wardrobe on a budget. I hope they work for you as well as they have for me over the years! Best of luck in looking fierce and fabulous while you take over the boardroom.
© 2017 Amelia Fancy