For many women, the morning ritual consists of standing in front of a jam-packed closet with nothing to wear. This often results from habitual sale binges (because who can pass up a $5 shirt?), purchasing an outfit you aren’t really in love with for a specific occasion or buying an attention-grabbing piece you “absolutely have to have” that doesn’t pair with anything else you own. Avoiding these pitfalls of clothes shopping is hard enough. But coming up with outfit options for work that are versatile, practical and stylish only adds to the confusion.
Believe it or not, you don’t need a closet exploding with clothes to look office appropriate and not repeatedly don the same outfits over and over. By following the steps below, you can build your professional, grown-up wardrobe over time and on budget.
Step 1: Say Goodbye
Photo by littleprincessdiaries from Flickr
Let’s be honest, you’re never going to wear that dress wedged in the back of your closet with the tags still on — Seriously, you’re not. If you have something in your closet that you haven’t worn within a year, get rid of it. Clothes you don’t wear mask the clothes you actually should wear. Plus, when you get rid of the old at a clothing resale shop, you will have more money for the new.
Step 2: Identify the “It” Pieces
Photo by Tradlands from Flickr
As far as clothing goes, a basic wardrobe needs a few key pieces you can mix and match. These items include: a black pencil skirt, little black dress, day dress, chambray shirt, solid wash slim jeans, black blazer, simple tee, cardigan, dressy pants, printed blouse and a plain tank top.
Step 3: Get in Step with Essential Shoes
Photo of black ankle boot from Target
Like clothing, keep shoes simple so you can mix and match to dress up or dress down an outfit. You need: ankle boots, riding boots, pointy flats, nude pumps and black pumps.
Step 4: Play up Your Personality
Photo by …love Maegan from Flickr
Now that you’ve got the basics, accessorize to add a touch of personal style to your outfit. Shop for: a wide-brim wool hat, colorful scarf, carryall bag, dressy clutch, jeweled necklace and statement earrings.
Step 5: Piece it Together
Photo by naomi yamada from Flickr
For those who already have a few of these items, you’re ahead of the game. For those who have nothing on the list, not to worry. First of all, you don’t need to get all these pieces at once. Slowly start incorporating them into your closet the next time you go shopping to make sure you stay within your budget. If you have a pair of colored skinny jeans instead of dark-wash denim, go with it and pair them with the chambray shirt. You don’t have to follow the list exactly, just make sure to buy items you can mix and match and more importantly, will actually wear.
Also remember that you don’t need to buy the most expensive little black dress, pair of women’s shoes or necklace out there. You can find plenty of high-quality pieces that won’t break the bank. Shop sale racks, sift through your local consignment store and shop your go-to brands you know hold up well. The pieces listed above are relatively plain so no one is going to notice that you’re not wearing a name brand. Go for quality, structure and pieces that look and feel expensive (even though they’re not). A pair of shoes can turn a plain tee from casual to dressy in a snap and the same goes for a few glitzy accessories.
No matter how close or far away you are from achieving your dream closet, keep in mind: less is more. Instead of buying three shirts that will fall apart the first time you wash them, get a high-quality shirt that will last for seasons. The more you shop for quality, the more you will wear the clothes you have and eventually, you will get into the habit of shopping for gorgeous pieces you love instead of cluttering your closet with items you don’t need.