By Mikki Collier • March 16, 2010•Writers in Residence
Now that you have successfully landed the job - thanks in part to your outstanding choice of interview attire- it is time to put thought into building a professional, polished, and sophisticated work wardrobe that will reflect your sound judgment and ESQuisite personal taste. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a law student intern, the key to creating a work wardrobe is to build a foundation using classic, versatile, and functional pieces that will convey the desired image for your workplace.
First to consider is dress code appropriateness. Appropriate attire depends on client interaction and the responsibilities at hand. Take a look around the office to assess the situation. Is the environment über professional or is it business (casual) as usual? If you aren’t quite sure, the rule of thumb is dress up, not down. It is much better to be dressed very professionally, than too casually.
If you are required to wear suits daily, you will need about three to five suits to start. Invest in suits that are classic, season-less, and include pieces that you can mix and match to create a variety of outfits (such as skirts, pants, and dresses). You already own an interview suit in either black, gray, or navy, so why not add some other colors to your collection. Browns, tans, and pinstriped suits are all suitable (no pun intended) options.
While suits are the easiest to throw on in the morning, the overall effect can read boring. So, in order to bring some life to the ensemble, I recommend getting 8-10 flattering tops in a variety of styles (such as button-downs and camisoles), fabrics (such as silks and cottons), and complementary colors and prints to wear beneath the jacket.
Business as Usual
The business casual environment can be tricky to navigate. While you may enjoy the idea of not being relegated to wearing to stuffy suits everyday, selecting well put together outfits can be daunting. Therefore, suggested pieces for a balanced business casual wardrobe should be ones that are versatile, classic, durable, and very low maintenance.
Choose two to three classic fitted blazers in solids and tweeds; four pairs of slacks in solid colors, different textures (such as pinstripes, tweeds), and fits (such as slim, trouser fit, wide leg); two skirts (one should be a classic pencil skirt) that coordinate with your blouses and your blazers; six tailored shirts or blouses in three solid colors and three prints that complement your taste and body type; a little black dress or two (one sheath, one wrap dress); and two to three colorful cardigans and two sweater vests in colors that coordinate with your slacks and/or skirts.
Your wardrobe should contain clothing with clean lines that are comfortable but well chosen enough to convey a professional image. Be sure to mix and match your outfits to create a new look for each day. Layering is a great way to ensure a slightly different look that adapts well to a variety of different professional engagements.
Next Month: Shoes, jewelry and other outfit essentials