Work Wardrobe Checklist: How to Build Out Your Professional Closet
August 27, 2015
We’ve talked a lot about the philosophy of building a work wardrobe, and we even wrote a book on the subject. But what do you do when you land your first job and suddenly realize you (literally) have nothing to wear? Here’s how to start your work wardrobe checklist.
First off: congrats on the new gig! Second: breathe. The run-up to your first day can be a little nerve-wracking, so this is the perfect time to channel your energy into making sure you’ll look good and feel confident in your first few months on the job. Here’s what to do.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: One Month Out
- Get in touch with your company’s HR department to get the lowdown on the dress code. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions: Are heels the norm for women? Can you go sleeveless in the office? Do you have “casual Fridays,” and do people actually go casual?
- Take stock of what’s currently in your closet. Make a list of the items that are office-appropriate.
- Divide your closet into “work” versus “play” sections.
- Create a budget for workwear.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: Three Weeks Out
- Come up with a vision for how you want to dress. Make a Pinterest board!
- Based on this vision, buy your first few staples—enough to create five outfits. If you need help, order an MM Bento™ Box and let a stylist do the work for you. (Sorry—we couldn’t resist!)
- Assess whether any items (old or new) need tailoring, and take them in for alterations.
- Buy an iron and a steamer—you’ll need them!
Work Wardrobe Checklist: Two Weeks Out
- Get some versatile accessories (shoes, belts, scarves, jewelry) that you can use to spice up the staples you’ve already bought.
- Spend a few full days in your new shoes to break them in and make sure you can comfortably get through the day.
- Shop for a basic handbag or tote that fits whatever you’ll need at work (a laptop, a notebook, etc.).
Work Wardrobe Checklist: One Week Out
- Try on your outfit for Day 1 to make sure it fits, feels good, and is clean and wrinkle-free. Wear it with the underwear you plan to wear, and check for visible bra straps or VPL.
- If problems arise, buy seamless underwear and a t-shirt bra that are undetectable under your clothes.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: One Day Out
- Lay out or hang up your outfit for Day 1. Iron or steam as necessary.
- Plan your outfits for Days 2-5. The first week at a new job can be exhausting, so do your styling ahead of time.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: Three months In
- Now that you’ve had time to soak up the office atmosphere, fill in holes in your work wardrobe. Can you get a bit bolder with accessories? Do you need a suit or jacket?
- Shop for two or three new outfits to add to your rotation.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: Six Months In
- Buy two or three additional outfits. Voilà! Your ten-outfit work wardrobe is complete.
Work Wardrobe Checklist: From Here on Out
- Now that you’ve got the foundation of your work wardrobe, start to experiment with statement pieces like a pair of graphic heels, a beautifully tailored coat, or a silk blouse in a bright color.