A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Building a Business Wardrobe
Dear Sue: I am in desperate need of help to build a business
wardrobe. I am a 42-year-old female, and have worked very little over the
last 10 years as I have been a stay at home mom. Itís a typical story: my
kids and husband have come first, and by the time I know it the funds are
gone and the time is past.
I really do not know what is available in the stores. When I shop, I
become overwhelmed. I donít know what to buy or what looks good, so I
settle for something in a hurry and by the next season itís in the bag to
Iíve heard itís good to mix and match, but I donít know where to begin.
Please help if you can.
Sue Says: Putting together a wardrobe can be overwhelming, and
while some people enjoy the process, others despise it. You donít have to
struggle or do it by yourself; utilize the expertise of wardrobe
consultants and retail store clerks, whose services typically are
complimentary. Shop in stores specializing in career fashions and seek out
the department stores that have free personal shopping services available.
You will find experts who know clothes, know how to help you build a
wardrobe and can take much of the pressure off of you.
It may take time for you to determine your business style and what type
of clothing you want to invest in, so start slowly and let your wardrobe
evolve. I am not clear about whether you have a job or will be looking for
one. Depending on your position and the standards of the company you work
for, you will need to adjust what you wear to its culture. Business casual
does not always translate into traditional casual wear. Every company has
its own standards and expectations. Itís important to know what they are
and to dress accordingly.
When you buy clothes, think basic and think mix and match. No one will
notice if you wear the same pair of black pants repeatedly, but wear an
unusual print, pattern or color a few times and people will remember.
Trendy fashions come and go, but classic styles last for years. When
shopping for work clothes, stay away from high fashion stores and seek out
stores geared to working women. In addition, think quality vs. quantity.
Quality constructed clothing in durable fabrics will last longer and wear
Look through magazines to help you identify what type of image you are
drawn to. Do you like a more sophisticated look or are you drawn to a more
casual, down to earth style? The more you are able to identify what you
want, the easier it will be to spot items to purchase. Owning fewer pieces
that you love and enjoy wearing is much more practical than having a big
selection of clothes that arenít practical or comfortable.
Finally, donít overlook consignment and resale shops. Typically, you
will find good quality clothing at great prices. Good luck!
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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