March 22, 2021

Careerthoughts.com

Helping You Choose The Right Career!

Building a Career Wardrobe

3 min read

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

ItemQuantity
Skirts2 all season
T-shirts1 white | 1 black
Tops6 work appropriate (blouse, button up, shell)
Dresses2 all season
Sweaters1 fitted pullover | 1 cardigan
Jeans1 work appropriate pair
Pants3 pairs all season
Suits1 classic suit
Jackets2 all season
Outerwear1 classic trench
Bag1 leather shoulder | 1 tote
Shoes1 pair dark heels | 1 pair dark flats | 1 pair slingbacks | 1 pair neutral pumps

Basic Career Wardrobe for Men: Level One

ItemQuantity
Shirts6 work appropriate
Sweaters2 pullovers
Jeans1 work appropriate
Pants5 pairs all season
Suits1 classic suit
Jackets2 all season
Outerwear1 classic trench
Shoes1 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:

ItemQuantity
Skirts2 summer
T-shirts1 striped
Dresses2 summer
Pants3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
Suits2 classic suits
Jackets1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
Outerwear1 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:

ItemQuantity
Sweaters1 fitted pullovers | 1 cardigans | 1 dark turtleneck
Pants3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
Suits2 classic suits
Jackets1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
Outerwear1 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

ItemQuantity
Skirts2 all season
T-shirts1 white | 1 black
Tops4 weekend
Dresses2 all season
Sweaters2 weekend
Jeans1 weekend
Pants2 all season
Jackets1 all weather
Outerwear1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
Bag1 winter | 1 summer | 1 summer tote
Shoes1pair boots | 1 pair closed toe shoes | 1 pair summer sandals

Basic Casual Wardrobe for Men

ItemQuantity
T-shirts1 white | 1 black
Shirts4 weekend
Sweaters2 weekend
Jeans2 weekend
Pants4 all season
Jackets1 all weather
Outerwear1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
Shoes1pair boots | 1 pair casual shoes

Basic Social Wardrobe for Women

ItemQuantity
Skirts1 all season day | 1 all season evening
Tops1 fun day | 1 dressy night
Dresses1 all season day
Pants1 evening
Outerwear1 light wrap
Bag1 evening clutch
Shoes1 pair sandals

Basic Social Wardrobe for Men

ItemQuantity
Shirts1 light dressy for day | 1 dark dressy for night
Pants2 pairs casual pants| 2 pairs dress pants
Shoes1 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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