If you are required to dress corporate for your job, then you probably endure the same daily struggle that I do, where your brain has an internal battle between ‘must look good’, ‘must look appropriate’ and ‘I am too tired to think’.
Now, truthfully, even I have my days where I just ‘don’t have time’ to put the effort I’d like into my work wear. Some days, I will just chuck on whatever I can find and hastily shove my hair into a donut and pin it back. I’ll even walk into the office with the most basic makeup on, in an attempt to get to my desk before 8:30AM.
With all that in mind, I will make an effort to dress thoughtfully around 90% of the time for work days and believe that young women in a sea of black suits and white shirts should and can, dress their age and still look both stylish and professional.
Staple Items You Need in Your Wardrobe…Pronto
1. The most fundamental item that every corporate woman should have in her wardrobe is a black (ideally) blazer – properly fitting please! You can buy good looking black blazers in all price ranges, however as this is an item that will date well, and probably last you a good 5 years, my advice is to invest in this piece. My go-to retailor for a good blazer/jacket is Cue. Cue makes beautiful blazers that fit like a dream and most of their items are made from European fabrics (but made in Australia, which is a huge tick!). A new season Cue blazer will likely cost you between $200 and $350, however they also have sales throughout their season and you can find some fabulous markdowns. Both Myer and Cue often offer 20% off new stock as well, so it’s a good idea to sign up to their loyalty program so you are the first to know about these promotional offers!
2. A well fitted black dress. Whether your body shape is more suited to a pencil shape or full skirt; a LBD that is WORK appropriate is an essential part of your wardrobe. Why not a skirt? Well, because a dress is easier to put together. Firstly, with a dress you don’t need to worry about styling it with a skirt/blouse/top. Secondly, with a staple black dress you can wear a number of differently shaped/coloured/textured jackets and blazers with it, so ideally you’ve got many outfits in one with the same dress. One last thing that is fab about a black dress is that it can be worn throughout all seasons. It still looks great in winter when you’re wearing stockings/black tights underneath the dress or in summer when you’re bare legged. Please bear in mind that work appropriate dress lengths are very important. My suggestion is that just above, on or just below the knee is the perfect length.
Ideal Corporate LBDs
Cue – Pocket Detail Panel Dress $229
3. Okay, so there are two different shoes you NEED to complete your corporate wardrobe. I won’t go into detail about a good pair of flats (but you definitely need those too), today I’ll talk about heels. First things first, don’t buy shoes for work that exceed a heel height of 10cms. Walking around the office in stiletto pumps is a) awkward, b) uncomfortable and c) is not professional because you’ll look like you’re wearing the same shoes you wore to the nightclub over the weekend. If I can suggest the perfect work pumps, I’d go for:
– A pair of black matte leather with a point (closed-toe) shoe. Ideal heel height is between 6cm and 10cm – dependant on your height and heel wearing abilities.
Tony Bianco – Whitney Black Turin Pump $139.95
Owning both a black and nude pair of shoes will see your wardrobe survive both summer and winter, and also go for any outfit. The nudes can be paired with lighter colours and black goes with anything (obviously!).
The reason I say pointy with a closed-toe works best, is that this style accentuates your legs and doesn’t cut you off or appear ‘stumpy’. In women’s speak; it makes your legs look longer and thinner – obvious bonus.
4. Number four on my hit list is a patterned pencil skirt (or go for A-line if you’re fuller figured/don’t like the pencil look). Patterned skirts are great because you get to incorporate a number of colours, which means variety in pairing items and overall styling opportunities. I have a great Cue pencil skirt that features a multi coloured leopard print pattern. It’s got blues, deep purples, reds and blacks. It’s great because I can wear a number of different tops (variation of colours that come from the skirt) as well as different jackets/blazers. Moreover, patterned skirts are a little more ‘fun’ as far as traditional corporate wear goes, so they are ideal for wearing to the office when you’re heading straight out afterwards to an event or what have you. When I hear (which is more often that you’d expect) people say that ‘there is no such thing as office wear that doubles up as weekend wear’ I think, that statement couldn’t be more wrong. Midi skirts are in at the moment so take advantage of the current trend that is – longer skirts – and buy clothes you think you’d utilise outside of the office.
Multi-purpose midi skirts that will take you from the office to your Friday night dinner/drinks:
Cue – Abstract Floral Pencil Skirt $179
5. Finally, number 5 goes to a favourite of mine – the winter coat. Now, this item may or may not be that important to you, dependant on where you live and the climate you’re most often exposed to. But for us Melbournians, this item couldn’t be more essential for the daily commute during the colder months.A good quality coat will set you back between $300 and $1000 (yep, or even more!), BUT this guy will be a timeless piece that you can potentially keep for up to 30 years. My mum still has her original Burberry trench because items like the coat never go out of style. My favourite coat, to this day, is a Pilgrim number which, from memory, cost around $500, but here’s the key point – it was purchased circa 2008. Like many of the items mentioned above, I advise investing in this piece as you’re cost per wear will far exceed the rest of your wardrobe. When choosing a colour, go for neutral; blacks and greys are best as they won’t appear ‘dirty’ like whites and beiges.
So there you have it; my top 5 items to set you up for a timeless, multi-functional corporate wardrobe.