The Essential Work Wardrobe


That’s  how I’ve been waking up every morning lately; squealing “spreeee!” in a high octave voice as I stretch in bed. The bubby loves it I swear.

The reason I do this is because we are going on a shopping spree this weekend. Finally! No more battles with the closet every day, flipping through hanger after hanger, over and over, convinced that this time I’ll find something that

  1. fits
  2. isn’t worn out because I’ve had it since high school
  3. matches one other thing on the planet, and
  4. that I didn’t wear yesterday.

It’s a challenge.

But to get the most out of my shopping trip I realize I probably shouldn’t spree at all. I should have a plan … and a list. I love lists!  So with the help of my brain and in internet, I have come up with a list of basic items that I should absolutely have for work this fall and winter.

All the images are from and are merely examples of what I should be hunting for on my very focused and organised shopping spree.


Nothing says “I’m a professional” like a blazer. You feel boss in a blazer, like literally a boss. You can wear them over everything, even dresses, and your salary jumps up a decimal point instantly. Have a black one and a grey one, also have a cardigan for more casual days.


It is the law: no work wardrobe is complete without a few formal shirts. Layer under your boss blazers, or wear on their own tucked in or out of pants and skirts. Get a black, a white, and a colour.


Blouses are office-appropriate tops that aren’t formal shirts  (see above). Look for high quality fabrics like silk and stay away from jersey or cotton with their more relaxed looks.  Have some long-sleeved, short-sleeved, and sleeveless for layering options, and feel free to add colour!


I live in Canada, its cold here. Sometimes you need to leave the silk shirt at home and throw on a chunky sweater. This is absolutely appropriate and encouraged, because a frozen worker is a slow worker. Try to coordinate them with your bottom pieces.


Don’t forget pants, that’s a textbook nightmare. Make sure you have a pair in black, grey and navy and/or brown. Spend some time finding the right fit and flare for your shape. I like a wide trouser leg for my curvalicious body.


Skirts are the flirty younger sister of pants. They fill the same role in your closet but look hotter and show off your shoes. I love skirts. Get the same colours as your pants but also get a lot more.


Dresses are easy because you don’t need to think about matching anything; just throw it on and off you go. But they also tend to draw attention and look maybe a tad too formal … at least in my office. Well suck it, I look awesome in dresses. Save them for when you have dinner/drink plans after work  and you will transition from day to night with ease. Get basic black, grey, and one fun colour.


La la la la lee lee la … Oh sorry, I was distracted by shoes. If you are a girl who likes shoes (like me) congratulations you’re done reading my post! If not, you still need a few basic pumps for work. They are polished and professional and can be worn with pants, dresses, AND skirts. LEARN TO LOVE THEM, they are versatile. You don’t need ridiculously high heels and they can be very comfortable. Get grey, black, and a nude at least. It’s winter so keep those toes covered.


Heels are amazing but flats are cute too. Especially if you know you will be running around a lot that day or have errands after work. They look best with pants but can work with skirts and dresses too. You can find these quite cheaply so buy a bunch to add colour and pattern to your basic outfits.

Other Things

I’m terrible at accessorizing so I’m not going to give any tips on scarves, belts, or bags. I will tell you that you need hosiery though. Get some black and nude stockings  for under skirts and dresses. People think you wear them because you are a lady, Ha! you’re not, you are a wild-thing that hates being cold. Lose them when summer hits but hoard a good supply all winter long; those friggers tear every time.

The Printable Essential Work Wardrobe

So that’s what you need for a basic work wardrobe according to me. I actually have a lot of this stuff so will only need to fill in the gaps, mostly in the blouse and pant categories.

Looking up at these items it all feels kind of dull and neutral … just like my office job. But these are basics that are meant to mix-and-match with each other and the more interesting pieces in your closet.

Fantastic blogger and jewellery designer Taylor Moseley‘s recent post: Wardrobe Checklist {Fall 2012} has more fashionable and fun items for your inspiration.

I am also in need of casual and evening clothes so plan on seeing The Essential Weekend Wardrobe and The Essential Evening Wardrobe soon.


10 thoughts on “The Essential Work Wardrobe

  1. Love this post! Fortunately my office is on the informal side, so I can get away with not having some of these, but you have successfully inspired me to keep an eye out for good sales on some of these basics!

  2. Hi, I really love your blog post! 🙂 I’ve been looking for a thorough advice on how to wear my corporate attire. So, yeah I’m in College with all the case defenses coming up and this was really informatively helpful! Thank you for the post. 😀

    1. All the images are from but from when I wrote this 3 years ago. I’m sure they have similar pieces now as they are basics and serve as merely examples of what I mean. Good luck and happy shopping!

  3. Thanks for the tips! I already wear most of these staples to work. I too, am a lover of shoes. It was good to have clarification on appropriate work wear.

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