I feel like I need to start with an upfront disclosure that I have never held a 9-5 job where I’ve had to wear workwear. At the same time, I have helped many friends prep for job interviews, which resulted in said jobs being offered to said friends and wardrobes being bought for promotions, new jobs, and office makeovers. Not to brag, but one resulted in a “Most Stylish Teacher” award. So, if you feel like your office wardrobe could use a little upgrade or you’re heading into the work force for the first time, check out my 6 working staples for the working mom and my tips on how to mix and match them to get endless options.
1. Classic Pump
Let’s start at the bottom, since that’s where we all have to start in this rat race. Pick your pump based on comfort and simplicity. You want a shoe that you could walk to the moon and back in since you’ll be walking circles around your competitors. I recommend a slightly pointed toe with a kitten heel, which will also elongate your legs and go with literally everything in your closet.
2. The Pencil Skirt
A pencil skirt is more versatile than most skirts because you can pair it with a blouse, yet it’s fitted enough that you can also throw on a suit jacket without it feeling like too much fabric. Another option would be an a-line skirt, but stay away from full round skirts or skirts with lots of details.
3. The Suit
They don’t call it a power suit for nothing. Splurge on a well-cut, slim-fit pant suit. You can wear it together for important meetings when you need to look especially professional, but you can also wear the pieces separate for softer looks. I recommend sticking with a neutral palate for your suit. Navy, black, brown, and gray are your best options because they don’t stand out enough to limit how many times you can wear them throughout your work week.
4. The Dress
Look for a classic, flattering cut in a work appropriate-fabric (wool, tweed, cotton blend, etc.). You can opt for color, but I recommend keeping it in the same color family as your other pieces so you can mix and match. Not only can you wear the dress solo, you can also put the blouse under it, throw the cardigan over it, or pair the blazer with it.
5. The Classic Dress Shirt
A dress shirt looks great by itself and also under a blazer or cardigan. Again, you don’t have to stick to a traditional color (white, blue, gray), but I would recommend choosing something that matches the rest of your pieces and isn’t too loud. Pale pink, yellow, crisp white, and most blues are great choices, depending on your other pieces.
6. The Cardigan
Because you’re putting it over your more classic pieces, the cardigan is a great place to infuse a little color into your wardrobe. It should still match, but can be chosen more for preference and what color you look good in. This is where a pop of color will be perfect.
You can put your dress shirt under the dress, and you can take turns wearing the cardigan or the blazer over the dress, for three distinctive looks:
You can start with the pants and blazer together with a classic button up. You can also wear the pants with the shirt alone or pair it with the cardigan. Three more looks for you:
The pencil skirt can be worked in with the blouse alone and then again with the blazer or the cardigan — another three looks:
And the best part? You don’t have to own these exact pieces in order to make the looks work. Try mixing and matching these basics that you probably already have in your closet for effortlessly chic looks. Brooke and I did just that and came up with some fun inspirational looks for you to try!
Brooke (left) paired a blouse under her retro-chic dress, while I went with the simple blouse + pencil skirt combo:
Brooke (left) went with a simple dress, but she could easily switch up this look for another day with a blazer or cardigan over top it. I paired a fun blouse with my suit trousers:
Brooke (right) paired a blouse with a mix-and-match suit, while I went with a basic dress. Again, we can switch up these looks with the addition of a cardigan or blazer for endless options:
So as you can see, with these 6 pieces, you can mix and match into at least 9 different outfits, which will keep you looking put together, professional, and comfortable enough to take on your day. Now if only the rest of your wardrobe was this easy!
Photography by Esther Lee