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How to Build an Office Wardrobe on a Budget

by Emily (follow)
Corporate (3)      Office (2)      Wardrobe (2)      Workwear (1)     
You have graduated from school, college or uni and you have got your first job as a real person. The first pay cheque might seem like a million dollars, but as rent, food, transport and bills add up it can be difficult to build a decent office wardrobe when you have still got a graduate salary and a monster government debt.

lady happy
"Diana Eng, Fairytale Fashion Eyebeam Open Studios Fall 2009 20091023.10D.55465.P1.L1.SQ.BW SML" by See-ming Lee

I recently went through this transition, and after a few false starts, I have finally compiled a classy and professional wardrobe that easily sees me through a week. Here is my list of must-haves, and some tips on when to save or splurge.

This is how I wish I looked at work... "Teresa_Moore-Ladylike-050" by fervent-adepte-de-la-mode

Before you begin, you must know what type of office environment you will be working in. Do the women in your department all wear heels, all flats, or a mix? Are men always in jackets and ties or is a collared shirt enough? If you’re not sure, pick a person of the same gender who is filling a higher position and emulate their style. Remember that you’re dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. My office is professional, sliding into smart casual towards the end of the week. Here’s my list:

1. Plain black flats
2. Plain black heels (low)
3. Plain brown boots (calf-high)
4. One lavender knit
5. One white shirt
6. One blue shirt
7. One dusty pink blouse
8. One navy dress (fitted, capped sleeves)
9. One grey dress (loose, mid-sleeves)
10. Two black skirts: one long A-line, one just above the knee
11. One patterned pencil skirt
12. One pair fitted blue pants
13. One loose textured cardigan
14. Two blazers; one black, one navy
15. One black and white patterned scarf
16. One brown belt, one black belt

lady happy
The go-to shirt: women oxford long sleeve shirt by Uniqlo, $29.90

This may seem like a lot, but remember that not all items have to be expensive. I like to spend on good leather shoes and nice shirts, but find I can easily get away with cheap pants and skirts, especially if they’re black. Within my list I have one “interview” outfit (pencil skirt, blouse, heels) but I can also tone it back on Fridays (loose dress, cardigan, boots). If I were to add to the list I would say brown flats with a court heel would be perfect – perhaps that’s where the next pay cheque will go!

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I wish you listed the stores as well, so that we knew where to go to have such a budget collection.
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