(Last Updated On: 20/03/2017)

So you are starting out in the “real world.” You’ve got your own place and the countdown to your first day has begun.

There are a lot of things to think about when making the transition from college grad to career professional. Though you may have considered what to wear on your first day, you may not have thought about all that goes into building a career wardrobe. Before spending your entire first paycheck on trendy clothes that will only last you a season or two, take time to build a wardrobe that lasts.

There are a lot of resources to help you determine your style, your colors, your “look.” Use those resources (some listed below) to compliment the following wardrobe basics. Also, I am providing information for both genders; separating men and women only for simplicity’s sake.

Shopping tips

1. Only buy items that can be worn in at least three combinations (example: top with three different bottoms).

2. Try to avoid “outfits” that only allow you to wear each piece with the other pieces purchased together.

3. Don’t forget appropriate undergarments.

4. Steer clear of fashion trends that only last one or two seasons.

Basic Career Wardrobe for Women: Level One

Item Quantity
Skirts 2 all season
T-shirts 1 white | 1 black
Tops 6 work appropriate (blouse, button up, shell)
Dresses 2 all season
Sweaters 1 fitted pullover | 1 cardigan
Jeans 1 work appropriate pair
Pants 3 pairs all season
Suits 1 classic suit
Jackets 2 all season
Outerwear 1 classic trench
Bag 1 leather shoulder | 1 tote
Shoes 1 pair dark heels | 1 pair dark flats | 1 pair slingbacks | 1 pair neutral pumps

Basic Career Wardrobe for Men: Level One

Item Quantity
Shirts 6 work appropriate
Sweaters 2 pullovers
Jeans 1 work appropriate
Pants 5 pairs all season
Suits 1 classic suit
Jackets 2 all season
Outerwear 1 classic trench
Shoes 1 pair dark | 1 pair neutral

Basic Career Wardrobe for Women: Level Two

In addition to the items listed in LEVEL ONE, gradually add the following:

Item Quantity
Skirts 2 summer
T-shirts 1 striped
Dresses 2 summer
Pants 3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
Suits 2 classic suits
Jackets 1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
Outerwear 1 hip-length | 1 lightweight spring

Basic Career Wardrobe for Men: Level Two

In addition to the items listed in LEVEL ONE, gradually add the following:

Item Quantity
Sweaters 1 fitted pullovers | 1 cardigans | 1 dark turtleneck
Pants 3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
Suits 2 classic suits
Jackets 1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
Outerwear 1 hip-length | 1 lightweight spring

As you start your professional life, you may also need to (re)create your casual and social wardrobes. Here are some guidelines for building both casual and social wardrobes; for grownups.

Basic Casual Wardrobe for Women

Item Quantity
Skirts 2 all season
T-shirts 1 white | 1 black
Tops 4 weekend
Dresses 2 all season
Sweaters 2 weekend
Jeans 1 weekend
Pants 2 all season
Jackets 1 all weather
Outerwear 1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
Bag 1 winter | 1 summer | 1 summer tote
Shoes 1pair boots | 1 pair closed toe shoes | 1 pair summer sandals

Basic Casual Wardrobe for Men

Item Quantity
T-shirts 1 white | 1 black
Shirts 4 weekend
Sweaters 2 weekend
Jeans 2 weekend
Pants 4 all season
Jackets 1 all weather
Outerwear 1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
Shoes 1pair boots | 1 pair casual shoes

Basic Social Wardrobe for Women

Item Quantity
Skirts 1 all season day | 1 all season evening
Tops 1 fun day | 1 dressy night
Dresses 1 all season day
Pants 1 evening
Outerwear 1 light wrap
Bag 1 evening clutch
Shoes 1 pair sandals

Basic Social Wardrobe for Men

Item Quantity
Shirts 1 light dressy for day | 1 dark dressy for night
Pants 2 pairs casual pants| 2 pairs dress pants
Shoes 1 pair dress shoes

This post was inspired by the ebook, Wardrobe Magic, by Diana Pemberton-Sikes. It is my take on building a basic wardrobe. To learn more and purchase your own for $24 visit her website at http://www.wardrobemagic.com/.

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