Going Beyond The Blazer Basic

“How do you always have a new outfit to wear?!”

To my extreme delight, a coworker once said this to me. However, past my delight, I felt pretty conniving – because in truth, I really don’t have much clothes at all (although my mother and boyfriend may disagree). The trick in putting together a crafty closet is much less about quantity and much more about quality – getting the most bang for your buck and making sure that you always have every basic in existence instead of the latest, trendiest, turquoise lacy animal print high-waited patent leathered whatever.

Make sure you have all the basics. Oh wow, what great advice. Don’t worry, I’m not going to preach the obvious to you over here and tell you that you really need to get a black blazer because, who knew, black goes with everything! (It doesn’t). Instead, here is a list of a little more unexpected basics that can pair up with other pieces to create an interesting work outfit.

1. Chambray Shirt. You probably bought yourself a chambray shirt, all psyched that you now had a shirt to wear out to breakfast that could look sort of chic but in reality, it felt like your pink elephant pajama top. Guess what? Chambray can go to work too! Chambray shirts look great paired under a sweater with a colored pant or leggings, tucked into a quality material skirt, or worn under a structured blazer.

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2. Bright Flats. A brightly colored flat, in a bright pink, gold, or even in animal print, brightens up an otherwise boring work outfit in a subtle way that won’t get you sent to HR like those leather pants will. A forest-green shirt and nude pants can be pretty boring, but with a leopard print flat, it all comes together. At the store, purchases like these can be tough to rationalize, but if it’s a workable color (like yellow, red, or leopard) that goes with a lot of prints, it can go a long way.

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3. Statement Necklace. If you have a boring full-time job, you probably also have a lot of boring black, gray, and white sweaters. Sometimes, you pair them with black pants, or if you’re feeling a little crazy, maybe some white pants… man, isn’t life exciting. To mix up these solid prints, get yourself a statement necklace and you’ll probably find yourself wearing it a lot more than you bargained for. And don’t drop a lot of money for them in stores – I wouldn’t spend more than $15 on one.

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4. Big, Bright Tote Bag. Once again, you probably wear a lot of plain, boring prints to work (we all do it) but you can bring some style to your drab cubicle life with a big, fancy tote that you can stuff all your crap in. On the outside, they look chic, expensive, and if you choose it in a workable basic color (gold, white, brown leather), it pulls your whole outfit together. One the inside… no one has to know you have an iPhone charger, Cosmopolitan, and leaky coffee cup jammed in.

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5. Colored pants. Typically, most worker bees wear pants in nude, black, gray. You know. However, don’t be afraid to lean away from the norm and invest in some more exciting-colored work pants in classic (and not too tight at all) fits but in work appropriate colors like red, forest green, and yellow to pair with neutral-colored shirts.

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