Your Work Wardrobe Essentials and more


You pounded the proverbially iOS pavement and landed your first real 9 to 5 job – and you thought 9 to 5 was a Dolly Parton song heard once upon a time on Mee-Mah’s 8 track. You need to find  yourself a career worthy wardrobe and fast, but nary a shilling, penny nor ha’penny to your name, you must pick wisely. But you still want to look good while looking the part. Playas gotta play, right? Game on, Pokemon!

I’m only going to gloss over the essentials because I know you know what they are. But just in case, here’s what the smart shopper needs to have as part of their starter wardrobe basics.

A Navy (or neutral suit) Suit

You can wear it as a single ensemble or separate the top and pants. A classic suit gives you a great corporate look to wear to your job interview, to meetings and conferences or on those days when you want to feel a little more powerful and in hopes of scoring that raise. A single suit can take you through four out of the five working days simply by pulling the pieces apart.

navy suit

The Oxford Shirt

A white oxford shirt is a timeless essential. To simplify your life, go for the non-iron version because who really knows how to iron anymore. Can we get a lunch and learn on how to iron?

oxford shirt

The Pencil Skirt

This staple will take you from desk to dinner with the swap out of your shoes and purse, plus it will be in your wardrobe for years. I have ones that are 10+ years old that I still regularly wear.

pencil skirt


Every good woman needs a cardi in her life. It works with so many items, is a four season piece, and looks  good at your office and as part of your weekend casuals. I love a good mileage piece.


The Classic Pump

A black leather, slightly pointed toe shoe with a mid heel height is your ideal go-to shoe and a timeless classic. While you are out shopping, try and catch a BOGO opportunity and grab yourself a loafer or ballet flat as part of the two-for for the to ‘n fro.

classic black manolos

The Structured Bag/Tote

Every career gal needs a structured bag. It’s classic and elegant and goes with so much. Invest in a great bag (and when I say invest, stores like Aldo do amazing interpretations of some high end versions so the investment really is not much). Your first bag should be in a neutral shade. Colours come later.

black pump


The Trench Coat

A trench coat is a timeless classic that makes any outfit look instant sophistication. It’s worth every pretty penny. Pick one up in beige, black or hint of blush tone.

trench coat


We know you have distressed denim from your university days, but you need an elegant pair that you can wear to the office – ones that you won’t feel shy wearing if you get pulled into a pop-meeting. Skinny or bootcut, reader’s choice.


For those of you who already have all the key pieces and want to add a few trends that are office appropriate. Here’s what should you look towards adding to increase your wardrobe this season.

The Sleeveless Jacket

The long, sleeveless jacket remains a huge trend again this season. It is the perfect item to replace your traditional blazer. Swap it for the sleeveless jacket. It maintains a business-professional look, but is high on trend and looks slightly more relaxed. It’s perfect with dress pants, jeans or those Artizia leather leggings that I know you have in your closet.

The Collarless Blouse

Pick up a collarless blouse in a sheer, silky fabric. Try it in a colour, pattern, bow detail, ruffles or Victorian lace to add visual interest to the otherwise banal.

collarless blouse

The Turtleneck

This season the turtleneck is the go-to piece. They are gorgeous on their own or layered underneath blazers, jackets, blanket coats, vests, and more and make absolutely everything look class-A. If you were born with a swan-like neck, the turtleneck is your best friend. Swan meet turtle, turtle, swan.




Ankle, tall, over-the-knee boots, you pick. It’s your heart’s desire. The boot is an investment piece to incorporate into your wardrobe once you have the basics. You will wear them with so much and it gives a cool-girl vibe, with years of use. So long as they fit your foot, it’s never a bad investment. Remember, this is Cinderella’s story and not the stepsisters’.



The Bomber Jacket

You won’t have to go far to find yourself a bomber jacket. May I recommend picking one up in a silky or lace fabric and/or with a pattern, embellishments or embroidered detail like a cool dragon or tiger to be super on trend. The bomber is perfect to wear with your career look and weekend wardrobe.

bomber jacket


The Pleated Skirt

A to-the-knee pleated skirt is feminine and pairs beautifully with both your classics and your newbie pieces. Try it in leather, wool or chiffon.

pleated skirt

A few other items to consider adding to your part 2 career-girl’s wardrobe include, a midi-length pencil skirt, duster coat, statement jewelry, blanket coat, colour or print pant, envelope clutch, jeans in a different cut from your classic premium denim.

I hope you feel a little more prepared to go out and shop for your first job. You are armed with the basics and more to build on if the essentials are already in place. So get up off your duff and start shopping ladies.

Carolyn Bissett