Chic is a word any woman would be happy to have associated with her wardrobe. Who doesn’t want to look elegant, stylish, sophisticated and smart in what they wear? In today’s wear to work series, I am going to show you how you can easily create a chic looking wardrobe. It’s not as hard as you think, but you may be missing one crucial step in making it happen.
You can afford to dress chic
A chic wardrobe doesn’t cost a lot of money nor does it require a lot of clothing in your closet. In fact, the word chic is a French word and the last thing French women are known for are overstuffed closets of useless things. When dressing chic at work, or in life, the goal is a to have a tight wardrobe that interrelates. This is one of the key points of a chic wardrobe. However, this brings me to my next point.
A chic wardrobe needs variety
Now if this sounds like this contradicts what I just said, hear me out. Often, when women are either on a limited budget or wants to keep their wardrobe tight they load up on basics or a lot of the same things, like a lot of black for example, to guarantee that everything will go together.
However, this is actually the opposite of what you want to do. Basics and foundation piece are important, no doubt about it, but if you don’t have coordinating accent pieces to change up the basics you really can’t create a lot of mix-and-match. Therefore, the goal, instead, is to have your base pieces and then a variety of components that can change up your basics. Often, to do this your color palette needs to be relatively tight, however, this does not mean singular in color. The colors need to relate to one another but they don’t have to be the same.
For the most part, the base of a woman’s wardrobe, her core investment basics for work, are neutrals driven. This is the good news because, as I’ve said many times before, any color you can wear with black you can wear with any other neutral base. Neutrals include colors like navy, grey, olive, camel, khaki, browns, and so on. This is why, when you create variety in your accent pieces it can be so easy to look chic at work and why, when you work this way with your wardrobe you can get so much more from less.
It’s easy to update a chic wardrobe
Most women aren’t interested in being super trendy and every season they add a few new items to their wardrobe to give it some freshening up. The beauty of a chic wardrobe is that it’s easy to update. With good base pieces, all it takes are a updated buys every season to continue to get good mileage from what you already own. Speaking for myself, sometimes just bringing home one new jacket or a fun new necklace can make my entire wardrobe look like new again. And having managed the wardrobe of many clients over the years, we always build off what already exists when adding more. Nobody purchases an entirely new wardrobe every season, they purge some, add some and cycle things in and out.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how to maximize your wardrobe with this approach.
How to look effortlessly chic at work
As you will see I have three base outfits, a skirt and ivory sleeveless top from Boden, a classic navy trumpet skirt, a basic grey shift dress from Reiss, a short sleeved white top and black Elie Tahari pants. These are examples of some basic pieces that exist in the work wardrobes of many women. If you don’t take advantage of these fantastic bases with great pops and accents you are seriously missing out.
And here is an example of a few items that a woman may buy for the new season to freshen up her wardrobe: A simple cardigan, like this one from Boden, this fun, red Zara blazer, a basic jacket from Jones New York, a basic pair of nude pumps, a colorful sandal, like this yellow pair from Nine West, a pair of printed pumps, one handbag, like this blue one from Vince Camuto, and some jewelry, like this tortoise Ann Taylor necklace, bib necklace from Banana Republic and colorful Anthropologie earrings.
Starting with the navy trumpet skirt and ivory sleeveless top, I am going to create three different looks using the accent pieces. In the first look I created a sharper look using the Zara blazer, nude pumps, blue handbag and Anthropologie earrings. The second look is softer and more feminine with the pink Boden cardigan, printed pumps, blue bib necklace and the same blue Vince Camuto handbag. In the third, for a more neutral outfit, I added the tan blazer, tortoise necklace, yellow sandals and, again, the same blue handbag.
Now, using the basic black Elie Tahari pants and short sleeve shell from Reiss, you have the perfect base to do whatever you want. Sticking with the same accent pieces, the first outfit is the same red Zara blazer, only this time with the yellow sandals, tortoise necklace and that blue Vince Camuto handbag. Next, I used the Boden cardigan and styled it with the nude pumps and Anthropologie earrings and (say it with me) same blue handbag. Lastly, you see the handbag again, along with the blue bib necklace, printed pumps. So you have the same pieces only they’re swapped up a bit. This is what you want to do with your accent pieces.
Here, using the basic grey shift dress from Reiss I am going to give you three more looks, all of them using the same blue Vince Camuto handbag. The next time you think to purchase a basic black handbag, thinking it will be the most versatile, think again, black isn’t the only handbag color that will get you great mileage.
The first look is styled the dress with the red blazer, the printed pumps and bib necklace. To get the most from printed shoes, or prints in general, you want to make sure that you have solids in a few of the colors found in the prints. The second look is almost identical, the only difference is the pink Boden cardigan is used instead. Such a subtle change-up can make a big difference. The last look, the dress is styled with the tan blazer, nude pumps and tortoise necklace.
A chic wardrobe takes planning and discipline, however, over time it can get really easy to manage because you will naturally take into account what already exists in your wardrobe before adding more. You will also think outfits through more thoroughly instead of stopping 75% of the way and not finishing your look. Lastly, you will have more fun. While it may seem like a good time to just buy things for the heck of it, when you buy pretty things that are also useful it’s a lot more satisfying, and cost effective.
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Brilliant, as always!! Please, please, help us (your fans) create a chic, casual wardrobe utilizing warm tones for summer. Who doesn’t want to look chic?
A faithful fan,
I’ve really been enjoying Banana Republic jewelry recently. I definitely have my eye on that blue necklace.
I agree! Banana Republic has always been impressive with their jewelry. I think I like the jewelry more than the clothes, actually.
In some ways they’ve been doing better – the dresses have pretty decent cuts and I just bought the city fit straight leg khakis (really good fit.) Petite sizing is pretty good. I think the fabric quality for blouses, etc is not consistently good and the color/print options can be really odd just overall. By the way, I did end up getting the black and white Boden polka dot blazer from the how to style a summer dress series and I have to say the fit is really great.
I feel similarly about J. Crew. Sometimes I go in there and want all of it and other times I’m like, “What the hell is this?” Banana Republic can be a great, reliable place and I am always impressed by the amount they offer in their stores. Petite can be very good, too, I agree. And, like you, I do struggle with their blouses, but I struggle with blouses in general. SO excited about the blazer!!! So great! Now, Boden’s clothes and accessories have been hitting it out of the park lately. I used to find them so dumpy and matronly but now I really think they’ve nailed the UK chic look.
I think jcrew is too committed to being deliberately eccentric. I love a lot of the colors they offer but mostly I buy through the factory because it always feel grossly overpriced. The fit on a lot of the clothing is also odd – pants seem to never fit right. What I like about Boden so far, is the quality (definitely good), colors, and again the petite offerings. I think the stylishness is not there yet across the board, but I definitely am consistently seeing interesting options. It reminds me so much of Talbots – a more feminine floral, slightly younger Talbots.
Hahaha, definitely agree about J. Crew, and it has gotten worse over the years. A client of mine, who hasn’t been in a J. Crew in a while, was shocked by their collection prices. The store definitely isn’t as accessible as it once was and I find I prefer their basics over their novelty stuff. I love their shoes but they are cha-ching! I can see your point about Boden, in some cases, for sure. I like the way they put things together in the images but often wonder what it would look like on a non-model body. And, yea, Boden is young future Talbot’s customer. ha.
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