Some weeks it is harder than others to come up with ideas for this blog. However, appointments with clients are not only great for post inspiration but they often remind me that it’s okay to repeat information I have shared on this blog before. I always fear being too repetitive or that I will sound like a broken record. However, I learned that simple tips are worth repeating.
I worked with a client last week who has an impeccable wardrobe of high quality items that fit her beautifully. Seeing that her job is more conservative what she showed me mainly consisted of tailored suits and dresses. With such a lovely wardrobe you may be wondering why she called me for help. Well, just because this client’s wardrobe was chock full of great investment pieces did not mean she was getting the most out of them. The biggest issue in her wardrobe was repetitiveness. Everything looked the same. All the outfits she showed me were basic suits, sheath dresses with little to make them interesting. There was no color, few accessories and her knee-jerk reaction to what to wear with any of these basic tailored pieces was black. Black shoes, black tops, black, black, black. Sure it’s simple, but it’s also boring.
Working through her wardrobe, we discussed some small changes she could make, and below I am going to share some of the tips I gave her on how you can make your work basics more stylish. They’re really simple that any smart, ambitious and goal-oriented career gal can do.
Three Easy Ways to Make Your Work Basics More Stylish
Tip #1- Add color
This first tips seems fairly simple, right? However, I am going to take the tip of adding color to your work basics a step further. My client has a lot of basic black sheath dresses, like this one from Reiss. Smartly, she already knew to layer a colorful blazer over it. She didn’t need me hire me to figure that one out. However, what was once a smart idea to bring some color into her wardrobe has since become another standard uniform and she found herself bored again. I mean, how many black sheath with a colored jacket outfits can anyone wear before they start to feel monotonous?
The tip I gave my client, and my tip to you, is to take it step further, like I am in the outfit above. Instead of stopping with just one color I added a second, these yellow suede pumps from Nine West. The goal is to have the second color (the pop shade) complement the first color (the accent shade), which in the outfit above is this soft blue blazer from Rebecca Taylor. By simply swapping out a basic pair of black pumps with a colorful pair of shoes, this very standard ensemble has a more interesting look. Yet, I didn’t stop there. To finish the outfit I worked tonally and chose these cobalt blue and gold Kate Spade earrings that work back to the color of the blazer.
Tip #2 Ditch the black accents
As I mentioned earlier, to keep her wardrobe simple and uncomplicated, my client often wore black with all of her suits. It was just easier to throw a black top under a suit and wear a pair of black shoes. Simple? Yes. Boring? Oh God, yes! Sure, having black as an accent color for your suits is fine, but if this is all you are going to do your entire work wardrobe is gong to look the same. You need options.
As my client and I discussed, there aren’t a ton of variations on the tailored basics of any working woman’s wardrobe. How many tailored pants, blazers, pencils skirts are there in the world? Once you get your basics down you run the risk of getting repetitive if you don’t find ways to make these pieces look fresh. Instead of buying more tailored basics, think about the accent and pop pieces in your wardrobe to make the basics look fresh and different and, essentially, get more looks with less.
Using the outfit above, consisting of a window pane suit (link to jacket and pants) from BOSS Hugo Boss, this would be the type of suit that my client would wear with a black top and black shoes. That’s fine for one option but it can’t be the only one. Instead, I suggested she soften up the suit and add a top, like this one from Reiss, and then try wearing beige or nude shoes, like this pair from Macy’s, instead of black. With such an elegant personal style, the idea of this made a lot more sense to my client than just wearing black. Plus, with just this change, she has created two totally different looks with one suit. To keep it corporate, I finished the outfit with a pair of smoky stud earrings from Nordstrom.
Tip #3- Pull from the colors in prints and use them as pop colors
The first thing I want to point out is that all neutral colors can be treated like black. Neutral colors consist of grey, navy, olive, camel and khaki, for example. I pointed this out to my client when I looked at her suits. I have said this before but, seeing that my client is an avid reader of my blog and missed this tip, I feel it bears repeating. No matter what neutral color your tailored basics and suits are you can add color.
Take this grey J. Crew skirt suit (jacket link, here, skirt link, here). It’s just as versatile as a black suit and any color can be worn with it. You can take a similar approach with this suit as I explained in the two previous looks. However, the next suggestion that I want to make, particularly if color combining isn’t your strength, is to look to the prints in your wardrobe, be them in your scarves and tops, and see them like little road maps on color combining. Using this top from Nic + Zoe, I used the peach and the taupe shades found in the print to give this very basic suit a fresh look. As luck would have it, I stumbled on these taupe and peach spectator pumps from Tahari that work perfectly. However, a pair of taupe or peach pumps would certainly work just fine. Finishing the look, I pulled the peach from the top and added this statement necklace from Nordstrom.
Rest assured, whatever you are currently doing with your tailored work basics for the office is likely just fine. However, if you have found your wardrobe to be repetitive, boring or dull, use these very simple tips to take what you own and make it even better.