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Work Wardrobe: The Basics

Dear Sugar
I am 25 and about to start my first office job. The dress code is "business casual" and I'd like to start out on the right foot, looking professional, but still feel young and hip. I figured that the best place to start my wardrobe revamp would be with some new slacks, but I'm having trouble.

I usually wear boy-cut style jeans, because my hips and butt are pretty small. Each time I try on trousers, if they fit in the waist, they are huge and saggy in the butt, and if they fit in the hips and butt, I can't button the waist. AHH! Can you help me find some pants that I can wear to work that fit my boy-cut body? Dress Me Right Rona

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Dress Me Right Rona
Anything that you will ever need for work, you can find at Ann Taylor. I sound brain washed don't I? But it's true. They have served as a haven for me through my many career changes and they are always right on the money.

Now, I am not saying they are Chanel. I'm the first to admit that they are (excuse my french), definitely a little bit "farty." But they make so many different styles for the professional woman - something is bound to fit you.

And the key to remember is that you just need to look appropriate. Your hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes all spell out hip and fun, but business casual clothes (remember that you have clients now) need to be smart looking and tailored. I've had my AT wardrobe for 10 years now and the $110 pants I've invested in, still do the trick. Thank you AT.

So here's what you need: Buy 3 pairs of slacks to start you off; A basic black, (try these fit and flare pants). They are shaped wider at the bottom and are still professional, but have a more youthful look.

a dark gray - (these Margo drapey straight legs come in gray) . . .

and khaki color. The Lindsay pants sit lower on the hip. I'd try this style first for your body type.

Next, buy 2 skirts. I would by an A-line flowy skirt (below) and a pencil skirt for more dressy days.

Now you are all set for one full week's worth of clothing. From here, you just learn how to mix and match. Buy a few sweater sets, button downs, scarfs and a blazer. If Ann Taylor is too pricey, there is also Ann Taylor loft and Ann Taylor Petite sections in each of the stores.

Welcome to having a "work wardrobe." It's definitely not the most exciting as your weekend wardrobe and it takes years to build a good one...but after each bonus, buy a new suit. You will learn how suits are a great staple. Congrats on your new job.

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Join The Conversation
Padraigin Padraigin 9 years
I LOVE Theory! When I have to look all poo poo professional, I wear Theory or Ann Taylor Lindsays (I get them at the Loft).
e.b e.b 9 years
Theory has a great clothes that make for a very chic, classic work wardrobe. MARC by Marc Jacobs is another great collection where you'll find work clothes with a little more style and personality. Then of course there is always BR Banana Republic. They have great clothes that will work just about everywhere! Have fun shopping!
highsociety1 highsociety1 9 years
Depends on your body type -- I have an hourglass shape and am on the busty side; sounds great on paper, but I have a hard time finding anything that fits flatteringly without making me like either frumpy or like I'm selling myself. I've had the most luck with brands like Gap, Banana Republic, New York and Company, The Limited, and Express. I also think these stores cater more to the "younger" professional crowd. I'm not ready for "Talbots" and the like. Don't think I'll ever be. Love the idea of a silky cami underneath biz clothes for a more fashionable look.
Padraigin Padraigin 9 years
Fae is right - a good tailor is an excellent friend to have. I'm kind of built like a boy - straight up and down. I have to have most of my clothing tailored. When you are in a formal work environment, don't forget to add the small touches that make you YOU. Don't lose yourself in business suits. Also, the Ann Taylor suggestion is excellent. Quality pieces that may appear a bit stodgy on their own, but a pair of black Lindsays with a black jacket and a bright and silky cami underneath and some nice jewelry will make you look and feel professional, but individual.
kylake kylake 9 years
Wear skirts! Problem solved.
DeaconP DeaconP 9 years
work clothes are so expensive - i had my first 'real job' this summer and i had to go out and buy suits. I think work clothes can be fun - i always made sure to have cute shoes so something stood out
ethiopian_princess ethiopian_princess 9 years
i wish there were some that were more affordable
Britgirl85 Britgirl85 9 years
just remember even tho your dressing for the office you can still dress like you.
FaeMuse FaeMuse 9 years
If you have problems with fit in your pants, please remember the three golden rules:
  1. Fit the widest part of you first. For us gals, that's usually our hip or our derriere.
  2. Look for a straight leg that doesn't narrow anywhere or you'll end up making your middle look very wide indeed. Tab front is preferable too unless you've got a flat stomach.
  3. Tailor, tailor, tailor! Even if the pants are too big in the waist, fit the widest part of your body and then tailor the rest in. $10 and a good tailor can make a great investment piece that much better.
JK-Boogie JK-Boogie 9 years
I love working in an enviroment were I can wear what I want. I like to mix it up with casual and professional.
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