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werk it

before i joined the workforce and had to drag myself into an office every day, i had two kinds of outfits: casual clothes for going to class and 'going out' clothes.

i had some fancier things reserved for formals or a relative's occasional wedding. but i didn't really have any reason to get super dressed up.

and about a month before graduating, when i was still searching for a job, it hit me: i have no professional clothes. 

i did eventually land my first job (three weeks before graduating omg!) but besides the interview suit my parents thankfully purchased for me, i had nothing to wear to this new job. unless they wanted to see me in some variation of my lone suit every day.

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accumulating a professional wardrobe can feel like a huge challenge, especially when you're used to shopping to for whatever looks fun. 

 but i've found that dressing for work can also be fun. and with the right pieces, you can really make your clothes work for you. it can even take you all the way into casual friday if you do it right.

check it out:

here's the breakdown.

1. three blouses/tops - one long sleeved, one with sleeves, one sleeveless. if you like, you could swap out the long-sleeved blouses for a nice turtleneck. i also think you could do a button-up here but to me, blouses are a hair more professional and aren't as expected.

2. one shift dress - preferably in a non-basic color. green's just a little more fun and you'll feel just a little more fun wearing something colorful. if green's not your scene, try navy, deep purple or ivory.

3. three shoes - one flat, one heel, one boot. these are the bare bones basics to get you through all four seasons. 

4. a pencil skirt + a suiting dress - i dig pencil skirts, but they're certainly not for every woman. try a full skirt or flare skirt for a different cut. also, i tend to wear pants infrequently. but if your preference is pants, i'd add another pair here in a different color. navy or charcoal perhaps.

5. basic black wide leg pants - done and done.

6. four belts - three skinny, one thick. i included so many here because i find that belts are an easy and really cheap way to dress up or add interest to an outfit. pop one over your pencil skirt, on top of a dress, over a cardigan. boom. outfit is more awesome.

7. four pieces of jewelry - three statement pieces and some basic post/stud earrings.

8. two cardigans - one solid color, one patterned. good for cold office buildings and chilly weather. having something with a pattern is always nice, too.

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each of these pieces is under $100, with the exception of the shoes*, which should last you multiple seasons. 

i don't have a suit here, mostly because i've never had a job where i was required to wear one on a daily basis. but if you work somewhere more formal, i'd certainly include suits as a workwear staple in charcoal, light grey or navy.

(also, i kinda see blazers as outerwear, even though i guess they're technically not.)

my basic rule of thumb for young professionals is to choose classic pieces with a little bit of spunk. find something that's a classic shape but has a little extra something to make it different. like the pleating on that green shift dress.

i always think: what color will everyone else get?

then, i buy the opposite. 

this way, your lovely unique self will stand out among the rest of the pack. in the best way possible.

lastly, i always choose things i can easily mix + match and dress up or down. for this example, you could pair any of the tops with any of the bottoms (even the dress if you're feelin frisky!), wear the cardigans as a cover up or a standalone item, and incorporate blazers as appropriate. 

like this:

and that's just eight outfits. 
there's tons more in there.

oh and pssst: 
all those silk tops? 
they go with jeans, too. 

hello, casual friday.

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i mean, you're already awesome. 

now your work clothes are too.

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*you can probably find things even cheaper if you carefully look through stores like h&m, kohls, forever21, and target.

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