When you’re taking the first steps in your career, lots of things can be confusing. If both you and your partner have new full-time jobs (like 46% of two-parent households), you’re already stressed.
In these situations, little is explained to you. No one teaches you how to properly greet your superiors (Mrs. Johnson? But everyone calls her Lucy?). No one explains how many emails is too many in a chain, and no one can say when exactly is a good time to punch out for lunch.
Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of early professional life is figuring out what defines a professional wardrobe. Though the average American spends about $1,800 on clothing annually, many of us still struggle to cultivate an office wardrobe that reliably meets our daily work needs.
While every office culture is different, some wardrobe pieces are so basic and timeless that they can fit in nearly any professional setting. If you’re struggling to get your business casual looks just right, or if you’re getting bored with your corporate dress code, read on. Here are three comfortable, classy, and stylish items that every young professional woman should have in her wardrobe:
1. A Simple Handbag
No matter what your career path may be, you’ll need to bring a few essentials with you to and from work each day. The best way to keep your laptop, pens, folders, and headphones with you at all times is a simple and elegant work bag. Look for a neutral black or gray bag that has a large pocket for easy access, as well as a few smaller pockets for keeping loose items neat. With a polished yet simple bag, you’ll tie together and elevate any professional look.
2. A Classic Blazer
Blazers serve so many purposes, it’s a wonder we don’t wear them every day. A good blazer can make a casual outfit suddenly work-appropriate. The structure of a blazer can streamline your silhouette, defining your waist and complementing any shirt, skirt, or pair of slacks. Perhaps most importantly, a blazer can keep you warm when the office air conditioning is on blast, making this classic jacket both practical and stylish.
3. Jewelry With Personality
Let’s face it. Women’s work dress code can be a little boring, not to mention white-centric, size exclusive, and ignorant of economic class. Though you may not be able to completely topple the patriarchy with your stylistic choices at work, most workplace dress codes have wiggle room when it comes to jewelry. Use accessories like watches, fun necklaces, scarves, hair pins and more to let your non-corporate self shine through. Even a feminist pin on your work bag can help you feel a little less artistically stifled at the office.
In any environment, women can have a tough time choosing an “appropriate” outfit. At work, finding the right style for you that also meets corporate standards can be even trickier. With these three wardrobe staples, you’ll be able to elevate and personalize nearly any business casual look.