Do you dread getting dressed for work? Do you feel like you have nothing to wear? Do all your clothes look blah? Well, now’s the time to spruce up your spring wardrobe with some stylish, and affordable, essentials. Stacy London from TLC's “What Not To Wear” tells you what you need to update your professional look.
Ever feel like you have plenty of clothes in your closet — suits, blouses, skirts, sweaters, etc., but not a thing to wear to work? Believe me, I feel for you. Here are 19 pieces that can make any career wardrobe come to life this spring. And more importantly, they can be mixed and matched in endless variations. So say sayonara to the days of tearing out your hair just to get out the door in the morning. Think of these pieces as Garanimals for grown-ups! Enjoy! And always remember, dear viewers, work hard, and dress right.
- 2 suits: either a jacket and pants, a jacket and a skirt, or a three-piece suit — jacket, skirt and pants. (neutral colors or prints)
- 1 cotton canvas jacket (neutral or solid color)
- 1 leather jacket (neutral color)
- 1 trench (neutral or solid color)
- 1 button-front, men's style shirt (solid color or print)
- 1 "schweater"
- 1 twin set (solid color)
- 2 feminine blouses (solid color or print)
- 2 skirts (neutral or solid color and neutral print)
- 1 pair of trouser or dark wash jeans
- 3 pair of shoes (2 neutral, 1 solid color or print)
- 3 bags (2 neutral, 1 solid color or print)
What to look for when buying essentials
Trench coatA perfect spring staple, the trench gives an outfit a more polished look. And a great color gives it more punch. If you choose a classic trench in khaki or navy, I recommend getting another coat in a color. Look for trenches that fit close to the body or tie at the natural waist for the most flattering look. Watch out for oversize lapels; they tend to be overpowering. Three-quarter-length trenches are the most flattering. Ann Taylor LOFT, $99.
SchweaterOn TLC's "What Not to Wear," we use the term "schweater" to describe an all-in-one shirt and sweater. For those obsessed with cutting down the amount of time it takes to get dressed, this item is a great option. It gives the appearance of a layered look, without the layering — an easy way to achieve a sophisticated look without the hassle of having a separate shirt and sweater stay in place all day. INC @ Macy's, $69.
Never underestimate the potential of a beautiful leather jacket to give a work outfit some sophistication. Look for jackets that are short and boxy, or styled more like a blazer for the most polished look. Colored leather can be a tricky proposition on most women, and not always appropriate for the work place. Look for a jacket in either brown or black that will have some longevity. Andrew Marc, $625.
Look for solid color skirts with some texture that will add visual interest to an outfit without competing with printed tops. If you feel uncomfortable with a pencil skirt, try a flattering A-line skirt. Don't be afraid to mix colors! You can wear a raspberry-colored sweater with a leaf-green-hued pencil skirt. Paler colors can work as "pseudo-neutrals" that can be paired with bright colors. Other pseudo-neutrals include: burgundy, army green, and light blue. Old Navy, $19.50.
SuitA suit always comes in handy. It looks powerful and authoritative, but it doesn't have to look masculine. Look for a well-fitting suit and have it tailored to your exact measurements. Pair it with a patterned feminine blouse for a softer look. Suits don't just have to be your basic black, try a "softer" neutral like navy, charcoal gray, or chocolate brown. These colors are much less harsh against skin, particularly during the day, especially for more mature skin (women over 35). Softer neutrals paired with bright colors and patterns look fresh and modern, and they are still just as professional as basic black.Jacket: J. Crew, $148; trousers: J. Crew, $98.
Sweater twin setThe advantage of buying a twin set is the same as buying a suit — you don't have to wear both pieces together. And the twin sets of today aren't stuffy like the ones from the '50s. Look for bold colors or patterns, as neutrals and pastels can look stodgy. Cardigans are a great alternative to jackets. They layer nicely over knit shells as well as shirts and blouses. Longer, slim cardigans look super chic and professional when belted at the waistline. And they’re great when you need an extra layer because your office air conditioning is on full blast in the summer! Cardigan: Banana Republic: $64; shell: Banana Republic: $44.
JeansCasual Fridays may have gone too far, but there are ways to wear a pair of jeans to the office. Look for a dark wash with no bleaching or ripped holes. Jeans that mimic the cut of trousers look the most professional. Straight-cut jeans or boot-cut jeans also work. Levi's, $178.
Suit blazers look great with jeans, but it's still helpful to have alternatives. A cotton canvas jacket in a neutral color with some details is a great way to add style to any professional outfit. Look for a ruffled lapel, a double layer lapel, or gathered pockets to create a new, modern look with some of your staple professional pieces. Banana Republic: $98.