7 Essential Wardrobe Pieces to Splurge On

I was talking to a co-worker a couple of weeks about shoes. I know, how cliche, but she was saying she was looking to buy another pair of black heels because hers were worn out. I asked her how long she had had them—she said about a year. Ya’ll, I stopped dead on my tracks. I was like how on earth did you shoes wear out in a year!

Answer—they were cheap ones.

Now, I get it, shoes are not cheap, unless they are cheaply made. So, this shoe conversation led me to ask her what items in her wardrobe she spent money on.

Answer—whatever I see that looks cute.

Well, one thing led to another and I realized, she had no idea 1. How to build a staple wardrobe and 2. What items you should invest in (i.e. splurge) versus what I call “throwaway” items. Here are the 7 Essential Wardbrobe Pieces to Splurge On for the office.

 
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1.Good heels.

If you work in an office setting, or one that requires business or business casual attire and you wear heels, you should invest in two pairs of good quality heels. One in black and one in nude. Now, splurge means different things to different people, so just look at quality of the shoe. And, for the love of all shoes holy, DO NOT DRIVE IN YOUR HEELS!!! Ladies, this is why I have umpteen pairs of heels under my desk. I wear flats or tennis shoes to work and them change into my nicer shoes. This saves the heel from getting worn off by rubbing against the car’s interior.

So, some of my favorite brands are LK Bennett, Jimmy Choo, Vince Camuto, Ted Baker and Sam Edelman. My black pumps are Vince Camuto in matte leather and then I have a pair of patent LK Bennett’s. I have two pair of nude: 1 in patent that is Jimmy Choo and a suede pair from Vince Camuto.

 
 

Good shoes are just important especially if you are wearing them everyday. They are made better and provide better support for our feet. They will also last longer! The higher quality construction wears better and you can prolong the life of your shoes by not driving in them and having them resoled when the wear out. I get the heel cap replaced often and have added skid protection on the soles of my nicer shoes.

2.A Classic Suit With Mix & Match Pieces

If you are going to work in an office or go in an interview, then invest in a good suit. I do not care if its black or navy or grey, but pick one of those colors and make it a classic cut. No flared sleeves or funky details. Just a nice pencil skirt or pants and a two button blazer with a flattering collar and neckline for you.

Now, since I am a lawyer I have a suit in all three shades. Mine are from Banana Republic and I love them. I have the skirt and pants for each and they just are truly timeless. I also like Theory, J. Crew and Antonio Melani for suiting basics as well.

I will worn you against wearing the blazer without the skirt or pants because as you wear it and have it cleaned it will fade and eventually the color will not match the pants, especially black. So, I also suggest you get a good black and navy blazer as well. I wear blazers all the time. They make any dress look more professional and I can throw one on and be off to court in a moment’s notice.

I have other blazers that are less classic and more trendy as well, but those I do not splurge on. I get them from Kohl’s or TJ Maxx or Target and do not feel bad when I no longer wear them or they wear out.

 
Pictured: Classiques Entier / Michael Michael Kors / Talbots / Ann Taylor / Ann Taylor

Pictured: Classiques Entier / Michael Michael Kors / Talbots / Ann Taylor / Ann Taylor

Pictured: Theory / Boss / Reiss / Elie Tahari / Lafayette 148 New York

Pictured: Theory / Boss / Reiss / Elie Tahari / Lafayette 148 New York

 

NOTE - If you are constrained by budget: go for a black skirt suit rather than a pants suit, because pants fit is by far the hardest thing to get right. And a $60 skirt suit looks OK, but a $60 pants suit makes you look like you come from Planet Frump. Furthermore, the skirt suit will take you farther — you can wear the pencil skirt as a basic bottom in your wardrobe (but always dryclean all pieces of a suit together!). Steer clear from other trends I’ve seen with suits: jumpsuits! culottes! short suits! You want 1) a pencil skirt + hip length jacket or 2) a fitted sheath dress + hip length jacket — these combos have been in for years and probably will be for years to come. For more on the classic suit this is a great breakdown.

3. Non-iron Button Up Shirt

Yes, its true, no work wardrobe is complete without the classic button up shirt. I prefer to get a non-iron one so that, well you do not have to iron it. Now, I know white is the classic, but I actually prefer a blue or pinstripe varietal. With white I am always afraid of the bra showing or see-through stuff… just saying.

 
 

A button up shirt just screams put together. I can throw it under a suit, with pants and blazer, skirt and cardigan… you name it. Its easy and tends to be my go-to when I just have no clue what to wear. Find one that fits you well and it comfortable and buy a few.

4. Nice Coat

Whether you live in the north or not, you need a nice coat.You know, one that is classic, but cute and when you have it on you still look put together. Now, I know that up north it can be frigid (like ya’ll had record lows in January), but you can still find a nice coat that looks professional. Oh, and take care of it! I always have my cleaned after the last time I wear it for the season so its ready come winter again.

Find something that flatters you body, whether that is a straight a-line fit or one that belts at the waist to give you the appearance of a waist. And I know black is the classic, but you can show a little style. I have this deep purple coat from Banana Republic that I have had for years! It has a classic cut, but the purple is just enough to show personality without screaming TCU. I also love this one from Chadwicks of Boston.

 
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You can always opt for a good black wool one as well, just be on the lookout for material. Find one that does not pick up every speck of lint around you! Here are some of my favorite styles.

 
 

5. Pearls.

I mean if it worked for Audrey Hepburn, it works for me. Get yourself a good pair of pearl studs. I was gifted a pair by my first husband and to this day, they are my go-to court, interview, big meeting earrings. They say sophisticated but powerful and are understated. Now, I love a good statement earring as much as the next woman, but trust me, when it comes to truly professional events, less is more.

6. CBD (Classic Black Dress)

Yup! Every woman needs one whether you are in the office setting or not. Opt for classic cuts with a neckline that flatters you. Not sure what necklines to look for, here is cheat sheet.

 
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Also make sure the length is appropriate for all settings. Not too short so that is can go from day to night with perhaps just a change of shoes and accessories.

7. A Cozy Cardigan

A cardigan can be the difference between picnic at the park and business casual meeting. I say splurge on a good black one. Go cashmere if you can because its timeless and will last you long time and can make any dress or outfit instantly look polished.

 
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Ok, so what about the rest of your wardrobe? It all depends on the item I am buying. If they trendy items, I will not pay as much since they are just that—a trend. If its a staple piece, I will invest more—skirt, blouse, slacks, etc… Just beware of those items that are in a more trendy cut, like cuffs, details, ruffles, gathers. You get my drift. It the detailing, print or cut will date the item, I say find the deal or knock-off version.

I do most of my work shopping at Banana Republic, Nordstrom’s and a few local boutiques that carry labels and designers I like. I also am a fan of Dillard’s because they also carry some of the lines I like and you can often find them on sale.,

For my other items, I love some online shops: The Paisley Heart, Mod Boutique to name a few. If you are local, you can check out Birdie & James, Beehive, Esther Penn and Pax and Parker.

I also frequent Loft, Target, Old Navy and Gap. My style is pretty classic and traditional, so there you have it.

 
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