November 1, 2012
Please help me! I was successful in getting a job in a corporate office but it will be the first time working in corporate environment and have no idea what I am going to need for my wardrobe! I don’t think one black pencil skirt and a button up shirt is going to cut it. I don’t really have much money to buy a lot right away either.
Can you help?
From Clueless Corporate
Okay so that help message is actually a fake…however, I imagine it written by me two years ago if I had of had anyone to ask! Working in magazines for 4 years meant I could pretty much wear anything to work as long as if I was going to interview anyone face to face I looked somewhat professional or at the very least fashionable. While this option of choose your own work wear can help you figure out your own style and experiment, quite often results in you giving in to the lazy version of yourself and opting for jeans and a nice top most days.
Entering corporate world can be a little scary if you don’t have anything corporate in your wardrobe and without the fist full of cash and knowledge to go on a raging shopping spree.
I managed to scrounge up an outfit to wear to the interview but wasn’t due to start till four weeks later. This gave me time to do the google research on “what to wear in a corporate office” but somehow I always seemed to come up dry.
With this in mind I have created a comprehensive list of what basic items you will need to get by in a corporate office environment and actually look the part. This list contains the bare minimum you will need when working the 9-5 five days a week at least in the beginning few months till you have the money to splurge a little and build up the wardrobe over a period of time. It is everything I wish I knew before I started.
Good luck in your new positions and I hope this information helps!
- Clothes: Have each of the following: 1 x Suit Dress; 1 x Tailored plain black pant; 1 x black pencil skirt; 1 x black suit jacket, and 5 x button up blouses/ dressy tops. The combination of these items will allow you to mix and match different outfit’s enough so that you don’t feel like you are wearing the same outfit every day. The suit jacket and pants/skirt don’t need to be the matching set but they need to be all plain black if they are not. Surprisingly the best black suit jacket and skirt that I have is from Supre! When you first start out sticking to blacks, charcoals and greys is a good idea but once you are settled you can experiment with colour a lot more without looking risqué.
- Fashion accessories: A corporate environment is not the place to test out all the latest feathery headbands and chunky bracelets but what you can experiment with is chunky necklaces, simple flat bow headbands, and thin waist belts in various colours. I would however keep your jewellery minimal and only wear your demure rings, bracelets and earrings. Think Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl before you go overboard. You can totally get away with a cocktail ring every other day but steer clear of giant hoop earrings or dangly disco balls!
- Hosiery: Say goodbye to bare legs and welcome pantyhose as your new best friend. Go for thick black in winter and thin tanned in summer and a little FYI is the lower the Denier number on the packet the thinner the stockings and the more chance they have of getting a ladder. Must adhere to rule is the second a pair of stockings gets a run tie them up (so you can tell them apart from the rest) and throw them out! For variety you can get patterned options from a range of stores so have fun with spots and checks – no slutty fishnets though! Playing the sexy secretary isn’t the best idea when you want to get taken seriously.
- Shoes:There isn’t much room for fancy and unfortunately the go-to ballet flats are a little too “casual” for corporate world and are better left for under your desk relief or walking to and from the train station/parking spot. You will want at least 1-2 pairs of black closed toe pumps. Something that is easy to walk in but looks the part. Often shoes with platforms are the comfiest despite their height as they often have a softer angle for your ankle. This is where you shouldn’t skimp on quality for a cheaper price tag – please note however one of my best pairs of work shoes cost $20 on sale from Rubi.
- Bag:My advice is to have one larger bag and a smaller clutch with you every day. The larger bag will be a blessing on the way to and from the office housing the smaller clutch, sunnies in a protective case, book, water bottle, lunch for the day, basic makeup bag and possibly an additional cardigan or scarf for colder months. The smaller clutch will be able to hold your wallet essentials – cards/cash/id – as well as lipgloss/lipstick, purse sized spray of perfume and your phone. You need to trust me on the larger bag/smaller bag thing as when you are sent for the coffee or supplies run or are out and about visiting a client you do not want to be stuck hauling around a hefty bag full of your life story. However, when you are on the train you will be thankful for the larger bag and all that it carries for you. It will also stop you from carrying around a crappy cloth tote. You’re welcome.
- Hair and Makeup:Always have immaculate makeup and hair done neatly. Look like you made an effort to look effortless as just rolled out of bed hair and doing your makeup in the mirror at work is not going to fly. In corporate world dishevelled is the dirty word.
The places to shop on a budget in Australian retail outlets are in no particular order: (sorry everyone else…I am sure you can figure out the equivalent in your country)
Target – city stores have the best hauls – I got a matching suit dress and skirt for under $110
Myer – but only during sale seasons otherwise it is more costly check out brands such as Tokito for great work shirts, save the Tokito suits for when you have a little more moolah
Colette – for bags and accessories, especially their bags – swoon
Supre – for basic items but like I mentioned above their basic black suit jacket and pencil skirt have been my corporate fashion saviour
Events – have great tailor made suits for women but full price can be a bit much when you are first starting out with a budget. Sale time however you can score bigtime – I got my first ‘proper’ pinstripe pant suit here when it was on sale and I saved a couple of hundred
My favourite online hotspots for corporate wear include:
The best part about these stores and brands is that you don’t have to buy the same size for top and bottom, you can mix and match and there is also a high probability you will find something fantastic at sale prices.
Tell me about your first corporate experience below! What brands or shops do you find the best corporate attire at low prices?