True story: When I moved to Boston for my first job straight out of college, I had one professional outfit. I wore it to my job interview. I wore it to the first day of work. Then I realized, “sh*t. I have to dress like this everyday.” In college, I had lived in thrifted jeans and cardigans. In high school, my prized sartorial possessions included a pair of red patent leather Mary Jane heels, a yellow gingham dress, and a floor length quilted lime green robe. It quickly became clear that at my new job, my old wardrobe was not going to cut it.
Trouble was, I was broke – I’d spent the money I’d saved working part time over the summer as a student employee at my university on the plane ticket cross country, first and last month’s rent, and a security deposit (I spent the first month in my Boston apartment eating off an upturned cardboard box that I’d fashioned into a makeshift table). I hopped on the train to the closest mall right after work and charged a few items to my credit card.
These days, though my situation is less dire, I still struggle to find outfits to wear to work. As I have mentioned before, I value comfort (e.g. I love how pencil skirts look, but I don’t relish wearing them), but I also want to look put together. I want to get the most wear as possible out of my pieces, but don’t want to feel like I am wearing the same outfit over and over. I also want the outfits I wear to feel authentic (so much of the professional attire out there feels stuffy and generic to me).
As a result, I tend toward A-line cotton dresses (with pockets), an array of blouses and trousers in a similar color palette so that I can easily mix and match, and a collection of necklaces, scarves, and bracelets. I maintain a small group of quality pieces, and fill out my wardrobe with items I have thrifted.
How about you? What do you wear to work?