I had a school mandated uniform that I wore every day until I was 18. It made life easy in some ways- I never stood in front of my closet wondering “What am I going to wear today?” And then my college wardrobe was some variation of jeans paired with a tee, or a hoodie, or a sweater — again, easy enough. Then I started my first job, and all through my 20s, I spent an extraordinary amount each morning staring at my closet trying to figure out what I was going to wear, and if I’m being honest, I picked some questionable outfits for work.
Over time, I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t create my own work wardrobe, and eventually, I settled on this: my daily uniform is a neutral J. Crew dress paired with a J. Crew blazer. I work at a bank, and this outfit combination ensures that I’m always “client and executive ready”. I change up my shoes and jewelry every day, which makes every pairing look slightly different. I can honestly say it takes me under two minutes to pick out my outfit head to toe on any given day.
Work Wardrobes by shibani-dalal-faehnle
If you work in an environment that mandates a business dress code, I highly recommend the strategy above. Effortless, professional, and paired with tights in the winter, its an all-weather look. But regardless of your work dress code, you too can create your own work uniform following these easy-peasy steps:
- Decide on your personal dress code: How casual or business professional do you want to look every day? Pick a point on the spectrum between jeans and suits, and make sure it is in line with, or at least one step “more professional” than the dress code mandated by your employer
- Figure out what flatters your body: What do you look best in? Is it sheath dresses, something with a slight flare, pants, skirts? What are you wearing when people compliment you? What do you naturally gravitate to? If you find yourself picking a particular style each time you go shopping, that is probably it. Buy multiples of it.
- Pick your brand(s): Figure out what brands you like best, go into a store and try on the various components on your “uniform”, and write down the sizes that fit you best. This way you can take advantage of online sales without worrying about fit.
- Pick your color palette: Maybe you’re an all-black kinda person, or you prefer blues and grays, or perhaps you like brights, or like me, some combination of the above. I change my color palette by season, but I pick my dresses and blazers in such a way that any blazer can be paired with any dress. Versatility = ease, so don’t buy something that only works for one particular outfit. This is the most critical piece of the equation, so don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. Most good stores offer a personal stylist at no charge to you. Or, bribe your most stylish friend with wine and ask her to help you.
- Set your alarm for 10 minutes later each morning, knowing that you won’t stand in front of your closet thinking “What should I wear?”
What are some of your time-saving tips to make your weekday mornings easier? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
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I religiously lay out my clothes the night before. When I am being uber organized, I may even lay out the entire week. That way, I know that on the day of a board meeting, I have the suit, ready, ironed and lined up for the correct day. It is probably anal in the eyes of most, but I love playing in my closet, so it is a labor of love!! And your post makes me want to swing by J Crew. It’s been while!
Autumn, you are my hero!! I just cannot get it together enough to be that organized (which is why I had to move to a uniform LOL). And yes, definitely check out J. Crew- they have great sales!!
Can you please share tips about how to not let said work uniform components grow into an unmanageable drycleaning pile? That is my biggest issue when picking out work attire — what’s clean?
Hahahah Christina, my tip there is Febreze! And I wash mine on the delicate cycle even though it says dry clean only. And throw it in the dryer once it’s dry to get out the wrinkles ?
I love this! I never really have to worry about this, for now, because I work from home, but when I worked in an office, I had SUCH a hard time deciding on what to wear every day. That said, I also hadn’t yet determined a personal style, & I think now I’m much closer to one. This post makes me want to refine it even further.
Go for it Kate!!! There’s nothing that says you can’t follow the same process for working from home/coffee shop! ?
This post is everything as I JUST did major purge of all closets and put most of my summer clothes away. Of course I stood thinking “oh my gosh I have nothing to wear this fall”. Tips on changing up staple outfits is a great idea and one I say I’ll do year after year. I’m going to do it dammit! And buying multiples of things in diff colors or slightly diff styles. Need to do this more! Thanks girl!
Hahaha prepare to have your mornings changed forever!!