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Invest in Your Work Wardrobe Everyday

Victoria Jean Moore is a Los Angeles-based fashion/feature writer who loves reading and art.

Casual but Chic

Leopard puffy coat over a Kasper pullover sweater

Leopard puffy coat over a Kasper pullover sweater

The Work Equation

Have you ever thought about how many hours you spend working and wearing work attire? If you're employed outside the home it could be eight or more hours. If you work via Zoom, on a hybrid schedule, as a freelancer, or on a side hustle it could be up to 10 to 12 hours. That means you probably spend most of your time shopping for and coordinating outfits for your profession. Overall the best type of clothes and accessories that comprise this portion of your wardrobe are an investment that you should begin cultivating in high school and college.

Capsule Component

Beige trench coat and blue print scarf

Beige trench coat and blue print scarf

Beginner Work Capsule

Based on foundational pieces an excellent starting place for women would be a little black dress (lbd) that can be worn for day and evening, a black skirt, a white button-down shirt, a pair of jeans, a black blazer and a beige trench coat. For men, it could be a dark two-piece suit, a pair of black pants, a white button-down shirt, a pair of jeans and a standalone blazer. Suitable for all budgets and lifestyles this group is solid and easy to manage. Besides that, it also couldn't be more stress-free, with each piece providing a multitude of looks.

For instance, the lbd could see through a five-day work week and a weekend dinner date if coordinated with a trench coat, a knit cardigan sweater, a blazer, a denim jacket and an evening bolero. The suit, another career standard, can be just as flexible by separating it and wearing the jacket with a white tee and jeans and the pants with a blouse, pullover sweater, short-sleeved top or sweatshirt.

Great Online Work Gear

Orange and yellow swirl print dress by Russell Kemp New York

Orange and yellow swirl print dress by Russell Kemp New York

Go-to Online Sites for Capsules

Despite the popularity and rise in price of quality vintage and second-hand you can still find plenty within your price range, to add to your capsules, if you know where to lookd. Online there's ThredUp,, TheRealReal, ebay, etsy, etc., and on-site there's Council Thrift Shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, local thrift stores and yard sales. To edit your choices, and stay within your budget whenever you shop, it's a good idea to create a vintage and second-hand wish list to keep handy within your wallet or datebook.

For work gear women can usually find knit cardigans, suit jackets, skirts and blouses by Calvin Klein, Evan-Picone and others priced at $50 and under. Men can find ties, button-down shirts, and pants by Ralph Lauren and other well-known top menswear designers. Be prepared, however, to spend at least two days searching online and on-site through a plethora of merchandise because this type of inventory isn't as carefully curated as full-price retail. Most online sites have Wish Lists you can save items on, that you're undecided about, which you'd be wise to take advantage of. While you're examining everything, and before you make an ultimate choice, mentally decide whether or not it checks all of your sartorial boxes.

The RealReal and ThredUP:

When I shopped on The RealReal and ThredUP sites recently the merchandise I bought for my jobs as a professional fashion/feature writer and Special Education Instructional Assistant for a major school district included a black and white striped Norma Kamali vest and an olive green utility jacket by Current/Elliot from The RealReal and an orange and yellow swirl print dress by Russell Kemp New York and a pair of navy-blue pants by the GAP from ThredUP. Since I travel a long way to and from work, am on my feet all day, help young students academically and juggle various writing projects I was able to check off comfortable,

Uniform Dressing

Monochromatic gray outfit from Target

Monochromatic gray outfit from Target

Personal Style + Work Gear = A Unique Take

In 2022, still in the throes of the pandemic, one’s personal style impacts one’s work gear more than ever before in fashion history. If I were to break down the modern work styles into categories I‘d say they include:

The Suit Alternative:

a) A pinstriped or hounds tooth blazer with an art tee and a pair of vintage men’s slack.

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b) An unmatched suit: a solid colored skirt or pair of pants and a patterned top, shirt or blouse and a classic cardigan or sweater set.

Soft Dressing:

Dresses, soft skirts, silk blouses, unconstructed blazers, belted cardigans, serapes and kimono jackets.

a) Knits from head-to-toe in monochromatic shades. In past seasons, Calvin Klein, Mark Jacobs, Celine and others have sent them down the runway in gray, beige, brown and black. Now that periwinkle is the color of the year you can even try it in that shade and light blue, sherbet pink, peach, orange, emerald green and lemon yellow. Besides “cozy separates“ and “plush textiles“ like knit pants with pullover sweaters and sweater dresses it also includes flowy skirts.

Uniform Dressing:

a) Buying in multiples is a good idea if a “uniform“for work is for you. To achieve it effectively you can coordinate almost any top and bottom garment that allows you to look polished and professional, such as turtlenecks, button down shirts, and upscale solid color tees with matching pants and skirts in the same color family.

Casual Chic:

less formal but still pulled together.

a) A dress layered over jeans plus a pair of sneakers.

b) An oversized cardigan belted with a skinny belt over a button-down shirt or short sleeve shirt plus a pair of jeans.

c) Luxe tracksuit look (I.e., blouse with matching self belt plus track pants; trench coat plus tee plus track pants plus ankle boots; pullover sweater over wide-leg track pants.)

Jacket Dressing:

This look is achieved by pairing a structured jacket with a button-down shirt, tee, short-sleeve shirt, pullover sweater, or sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, culottes, walking shorts, skirt or a dress.

Retro/Vintage: (Retro: “A fashion that has been inspired by the style of a few decades earlier.”

Vintage: clothing and accessories from previous eras.”—The Fashion Book, Glossary, page 147 and page 151).

This category can also be combined with eclectic dressing because you can coordinate older and newer pieces together.

a) A vintage blouse with a structured blazer.

b) A pair of boyfriend jeans and a white tee with Vintage cowboy boots.

c) A kimono jacket over a denim button down- shirt and white jeans.

To help determine which category fits your needs it’s best to ask yourself the following questions:

a) How much do I have to spend for new clothing purchases?

b) Which duties do I perform on my job?

c) Does my job have a dress code or am I free to dress independently?

d) What’s my age or what age do I dress like?

e) which stores, websites, catalogs, designers and fashion companies do I like buying clothes and accessories from the most?

f) What is my personal style (I.e., classic-elegant and timeless- Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly; eclectic-mix of different styles-Sarah Jessica Parker, trendy-fondness for the latest trends- Rihanna, etc.,) Once you’ve discovered which work gear category or categories correlate with your personal style experiment with various color combinations, prints and accessories that are trending right now and use them to inject freshness into your daily outfit.

Fun and Sophisticated

Animal print blouse

Animal print blouse

Prints to Play With

There are many ways to wear your favorite prints for work whether it’s in a separate or an accessory. Popular and recurring prints are florals, stripes, checks, pinstripes, polka-dots, camouflage and animal prints (I.e., leopard, tiger, zebra and snake skin). At times prints can be too overwhelming for the job, so if you aren’t you sure a leopard print pencil skirt will go over well at your office, try a leopard print puffer coat, scarf, blouse or ballet flats instead. But if you want to be a little daring and we’re in all-over print try one in paisley or petite florals. Make sure the cut of the garment you choose isn’t too trendy or it’ll ruin the whole effect when paired with your favorite blazer, cardigan sweater, or coat.

Green hoodie over blue print shirt

Green hoodie over blue print shirt

Even though trends change every season, and you don’t want to seem passé by not being but not at least being aware of them, you also don’t want to slavishly embrace them especially when it comes to your work clothes. One way to do that is by incorporating the ones that fit in with your existing wardrobe and reflect your personal style seamlessly. iIn 2022 there are 11 important transit regarding the direction in fashion. They are:

a) Leopard prints

b) Upscale Silk tracksuit bottoms worn with heels for evening

c) Head-to-toe color

d) Sequins for day

e) Capes (Valentino: chocolate + blue + deep red; Halpern: tangerine + pink; Brandon Maxwell: emerald green + sherbet pink)

f) White and other pale off-white colors

g) Stripes: literal, vertical, horizontal and chevron.

h) Biker jackets and other 90s retro looks

i) Masculine meets feminine

j) Matching twin sets (Coco Chanel style jacket and skirt sets)

Paisley dress from TopShop

Paisley dress from TopShop

Wardrobe Additions to Acquire to Keep Your Work Wear Fresh

To give you an idea of how you can utilize one online site to freshen up your work wardrobe, on a budget, I’m going to give you an account of my purchase orders from the last few times I shopped on the ThredUP site.

What I purchased and what they cost:

a) A Paisley print belted dress from Topshop ($20.99)

b) A beige Zanella blazer ($9.99)

c) A black and white Kasper jacket ($9.99)

d) A red bandanna print blouse by Halston III ($8.99)

e) A pair of black linen pants from H & M ($9.99)

From this selection I can easily add them to my existing collection of print dresses, solid colored blazers, print blouses,Chanel-esque jackets and dress pants, then create various work uniforms and capsules that will make coordinating my new finds a joy.

Adjusting to the Transition

Many societal upheavals have influenced work wear, with the pandemic being the most recent. Clothes bought for Zoom suddenly had to translate back into the on-site workplace once we could go outside again and e-commerce replaced traditional retail stores for a while. Despite these changes however investing time money and imagination into a work wardrobe, even if you’re just an instructional assistant or sales clerk is definitely worth the effort.

Are Clothes for Work a Priority for You

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2010 Victoria Jean Moore

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