August 24: A Simple Wardrobe

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

Since this series is supposed to be geared toward worker bees, I had to write a post about the work wardrobe. 

Here are my best tips on simplifying dressing well for work:

  1. Pick your outfit the night before – Nothing causes more headaches than trying to decide what to wear at 7 a.m.  Always have a light jacket or cardigan handy in case the weather is cooler than expected.
  2. Forget the crisp white shirt, or don’t buy high-maintenance clothing – For me, nothing is harder to upkeep than white blouses and cashmere.  After a few washes, my formerly crisp white shirts always look drab and rings around the collar are a pain to get rid of.  While I like the feeling of cashmere,  moth holes inevitably appear after a few seasons (despite my best attempts to keep them clean before storing them in airtight containers with cedar blocks).  I also hate handwashing cashmere, which I feel that I must do in order to preserve them well.
  3. Stick to one main wardrobe palette – It’s easier if all your clothes match blacks and grays so that you don’t have to buy brown shoes/boots.  I don’t follow this rule because, well, I love brown shoes and boots.
  4. Get a work “uniform” – At some point, you’ll realize that certain outfits work better on you.  Dresses are an easy solution.  Even if you’re not a dress person, it’s a good idea to have a few work-appropriate dresses (like wrap dresses) that you can always wear when you’re having trouble deciding on an outfit.

What are your best tips for keeping a work wardrobe simple yet stylish? Please do not say that clothing is an investment.  It is not. Don’t argue with me on this one!

11 responses to “August 24: A Simple Wardrobe

  1. When I came back to work after maternity leave, I had to buy an entirely new work wardrobe. I started by picking basics, primarily in black and grey (mostly grey; I’m not a huge fan of black–particularly black pants). So I bought two pairs of grey slacks, one grey skirt, one black skirt (but it’s a skirt! not pants!), and two grey dresses. Then I bought a variety of tops in different colors, so that I could easily mix and match. The basics need to be dry cleaned, but the tops are all wash-and-wear. And they’re knits, because I do not have time to iron. Even if I wanted to, which I also don’t.

    I meant to expand my wardrobe a bit, but a year later I still haven’t.

  2. Also, your #1 is key for me. Spending five minutes doing this in the evening somehow saves me fifteen minutes the next morning.

  3. I try to find skirts and pants that are timeless. Pencil skirts and nice slacks in khaki, black and grey are essential; then I just focus on a nice top and popping in some accessories.

  4. Most of my tops are wash and wear, too. I have some nicer blouses that need to be drycleaned or ironed. I never wear these because I hate ironing!

    I felt like I had to expand my wardrobe after maternity leave also due to size changes but I never got around to really revamping my wardrobe and I admi that things are looking a bit worn-out! Luckily fall usually inspires me to shop and I am more focused now on buying comfortable, timeless pieces.

  5. CLOTHING IS AN INVESTMENT. I just wanted to be annoying.

    I hate work clothes. Hate the whole song and dance. I used to wear dresses but since I started taking the train and walking more, I’ve been wearing pants more frequently. I always feel like I’m in drag–it’s just so artificial. Give me a stained t-shirt and yoga pants, please and thank you!

  6. CF — I agree with you up til the stained t-shirt! Yoga pants yes, t-shirt yes, stains no!

  7. I ❤ grey and black, but I still like browns for the summer. I feel too dark showing up in constant black/gray in the summers.

    To me, "hand wash" usualy means gentle cycle and "dry clean only" means it is dirty. 🙂

    I don't ever pick out my outfit the night before, but it really depends on what you consider an outfit. I put on work pants, pick out one of my tops, and add a cardigan then maybe earrings. To me, that is just clothes – a pulled together outfit might require some forethought.

  8. SP — I hear ya. I like lighter browns/khakis for summer. It’s just cooler and more comfortable for hot CA weather.

  9. I had planned to move toward browns for summer, but a lack of time and appropriate footwear kept me from it. Maybe next summer!

  10. Or maybe today, since a lunchtime shopping trip to Ross netted me two light brown sweaters (one pullover, one cardigan/jacket) and a pair of dark brown pants.

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