Get Your Professional Wardrobe Streamlined for Success

When I went back to work after five years home with my little boys, I had nothing appropriate to wear.  My closet was a strange mix of maternity items and boxy suits from my trial lawyer days.  I felt like Melanie Griffith from Working Girl adrift in a sea of fresh millennial simplicity and style.  So I made it my business, literally, to learn how to build a streamlined, stylish, professional wardrobe full of high quality pieces that can be mixed and matched and dressed up or down.  I want women (myself included) to spend less time worrying about what to wear and more time getting it done in the workplace.

Here are some basic tips for building such a wardrobe.  This tutorial assumes a business casual office environment where jeans may be appropriate on casual Fridays.  This lesson can easily be adapted for more causal, formal, or creative workplaces.  I’d love to meet with you one-on-one to personalize your professional wardrobe to meet the unique needs of your lifestyle and industry.

Step One

 

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Start with five, interchangeable pieces in the basic palette of your choice.  I chose navy and white because they’re easy to work with and navy is a refreshing alternative to black for spring and summer.  I recommend that these five pieces include two bottoms, two tops, and one topper, like a blazer, cardigan, or shawl.  From these five pieces, you should be able to create four outfits.

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Step Two

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Now it’s time to add interest and show some personality.  Work in color, pattern, and accessories, following the Rule of Three:  Every new piece you add to your wardrobe should go back to at least three items already in your wardrobe or purchased at the same time as the new piece.

By following the Rule of Three, you add two pieces (below), creating five new outfits to your wardrobe.

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Again, you’re only adding two new pieces (below), but because you’re following the Rule of Three, you’ve created yet another five outfits to your rotation.

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Try a fun piece with an interesting silhouette.  Follow the Rule of Three, and you’ve created three more outfits.

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You can’t go wrong with a straight-leg, dark-wash jean for casual Fridays.  Straight leg is a universally flattering silhouette, and dark wash is equally flattering and appropriate for the work place.

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You now have eleven pieces in your wardrobe that can be mixed and matched to create twenty-one outfits.  You can wake up in the morning and grab an outfit without putting much thought into it.  Save that mental energy to run the world.  Want to streamline your wardrobe for success?  I can help.

 

Betsy Ross: Nevertheless, She Persisted.

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In Elementary School in the 80s, I recall a single mention of Betsy Ross in my social studies text, a mere caption under a photo, noting that she was credited with sewing the first American flag.  While this flag story is apparently apocryphal, it is also beside the point.  Betsy Ross survived three husbands, was a single mom, ran her own upholstery business, and was fearless in the face of the conventions that tell us who we should love.  Born and raised in the Quaker faith, she married a non-Quaker, causing her to be shunned by her family and community.  Nevertheless, she persisted.

And I choose to believe the flag story.  According to legend, in the thick of the Revolutionary War, George Washington asked Betsy to sew the first American flag.  She sewed the flag secretly in her bed chambers, her home likely inhabited by British loyalists, eager to expose her treason.  Nevertheless, she persisted.

Here’s to you, Betsy.  Thanks for paving the way for female entrepreneurs.  I wish your face adorned a piece of United States currency, but until then I’ll have to settle for your face on my T-shirt, and a subtle nod to you in my wardrobe, an inspirational push to be brave and stand up for what I believe in every time I dress.

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According to legend, George Washington asked Betsy to make six-point stars for the flag, thinking six-point stars were easier to make than five-point stars.  She showed him a trick:  five folds in a rectangular piece of fabric, one snip of her scissors, and voila, a five-pointed star.  Five-pointed stars now adorn our flag.