with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
Remember going back-to-school shopping? So many options! So few things your mom really thought you needed! SO much angst!
Or was that just me?
Shopping for new ventures — new school year, new job — can be overwhelming, because how do you know what you will REALLY need before you start the new thing? What if all the OTHER girls are wearing skinny jeans and you are wearing boot cut jeans? HOW WILL YOU EVER SURVIVE?
You laugh, but you know it’s true, and it is still true when we talk about shopping for a new job. You don’t want to be the only one in the office who wears a dress (or maybe you do, in which case more power to you! wear that dress! seriously) but you also don’t want to dumb down your style just to fit in. Instead, you want to find pieces that are appropriate for the specific environment of your office AND reflective of your personal style.
Yeah, it’s not any easier now than it was in high school.
No matter what your style or the office culture, there are five things you really ought to have before you head back to work.
Kate Spade Tarrytown - Quinn handheld tote, Nordstrom, $395.00
1. Trench coat. A trench is the perfect coat; it can run the full gamut from weekend casual to weeknight chic. Wear your trench with jeans and a tee on the weekend, with a wrap dress or tailored trousers during the week, and with your LBD for cocktails and dinner. Choose a neutral color (tan is always good, but black and brown, if they work with your wardrobe, are also acceptable) and a shape that suits your body. For colder climates, look for a trench with a zip-out lining, which can carry you through all but the coldest days of winter.
2. Basic pumps. Pumps come in various shapes and sizes; what you want to look for is a pair that you can wear with jeans AND with a dress. A pointed toe is more dressy than a round toe, and a heel, even a little one, will dress up any outfit. Keep colors neutral, but don’t default to black; brown crocodile or a subtle snakeskin are elegant without being flashy.
3. White shirt. I know, I know, you’re going to tell me that a white shirt washes you out and makes you look tired and old and all sorts of other things. But you’re not going to wear the white shirt alone, you know — you’re going to layer it under a sweater or a jacket, or pile on bright colored necklaces. The white shirt is the equivalent of flour in a cake mix: it is the stuff that binds the other ingredients together (or would that be the liquids? hmm). Choose a shirt that suits your body and your style — don’t limit yourself to a button-front menswear shirt. Look at tunics and upscale tees and light-weight knits.
4. Dark-rinse, mid-rise jeans. Unless your office has a suits-only dress code, you will most likely be able to wear jeans to work, at least some of the time. Jeans are a good investment, because they are so versatile; wear them for work AND on the weekend. Dress them up with pretty shoes and a fancy top, or down with slides and a tee (but don’t wear your long jeans with flat shoes — hem them to ONE length and then stick with the proper heel at all times, please). Jeans are also fantastic if your regular day requires you to be both an employee and a mom; you can easily move from one role to the other in a terrific pair of jeans. Consider spending more up front to get a really really great pair — after all, you won’t have to dry clean them, so in the long run even a pair that are a big splurge are cheaper than trousers that can’t go in the wash.
5. Tote bag. If you’ve been home with kids for some window of time, you have probably been hauling a kid-friendly bag of some sort. That’s great and all, but leave that bag home when you go back to work and replace it with something that has never had a sippy cup leak in the inside. Look for a bag that can carry what you need for work — if you will be hauling file folders, look for a bag that allows you to keep them upright, for example. If you will need to move your laptop around frequently, look for a really fantastic laptop bag, or opt for a cool sleeve and a beautiful tote to drop it in. Choose a bag that is sturdy but professional, and take good care of it. No sippy cups allowed in THIS bag.
Next week: Planning your shopping! You know, so you actually come home with USEFUL things.
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