Whether you're starting your first job, a new job or just want to make a good impression at your current one, it's important to have a solid work wardrobe — after all, first impressions are largely based on appearances. Your work wardrobe should consist of classic pieces that can easily be mixed and matched, plus a few fun items to add personality to your overall look.
Read on to discover the 30 clothing items every working woman needs to own, plus how you can save money on clothes.
A sheath dress that hits below the knee is ideal for business meetings and job interviews. This Maggy London Lace Detail Crepe Sheath Dress has a flattering silhouette and features a bateau neckline, lace cap sleeves and lace detailing throughout, giving the dress texture and added elegance. Opt for the black or dark navy shade to keep the look professional.
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Every working woman needs a dress in her wardrobe that can easily transition from day to night. The Soprano Ruffle Wrap Dress is office appropriate, but still fun enough to wear to happy hour, dinner or a date night after work. Not only is the dress chic, but the stretch-knit material also makes it comfortable enough to wear all day.
A shift dress is perfect to throw on when you can't stand the thought of putting on pants or form-fitting clothes, but still want to look professional. Shift dresses are especially good to have on hand for the summer, when people tend to wear less formal clothes to work. The Charles Hem Ruffle Shift Dress from Charles Henry is fashion-forward, but still office appropriate.
A white T-shirt can be worn alone with tailored pants or a statement skirt, or layered under a blazer or sweater. The perfect white tee is soft and slouchy, but not sheer. You can't go wrong with the Madewell "Whisper" Cotton Crewneck Tee, which features a flattering shirttail hem rather than a traditional boxy cut.
Basic Camisoles for Layering
Camisoles are always good to layer under clothes that would otherwise be too low-cut or sheer for the office. You can wear them under blazers and sweaters as an easy layering piece. At only $12, it's worth it to buy the BP. Stretch Camisole in black, white and tan, so you'll have a complementary layering piece for any outfit.
Add a little something extra to your wardrobe with a blouse that features an interesting sleeve, unique neckline or fun print. A statement blouse like the Lush Ribbed Ruffle Sleeve Top can be paired with black pants, dark jeans or a pencil skirt to give more personality to an outfit while still keeping it work appropriate.
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White Button-Up Shirt
Just like a white T-shirt, a white button-up shirt can be paired with any bottom of your choosing, and can be worn on its own or layered under a cardigan or blazer. The Vince Camuto Long Sleeve Tie-Neck Blouse is more interesting than a basic white shirt but just as versatile.
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Striped Button-Up Shirt
A striped button-up shirt is timeless, pairs effortlessly with basic neutral bottoms and is a great layering piece to wear under a blazer or cardigan. The J.Crew Perfect Classic Stripe Stretch Cotton Shirt is a staple you'll wear even more than you think.
Long Sleeve Turtleneck
A long-sleeved turtleneck T-shirt like the Halogen Long Sleeve Turtleneck can be worn on its own or as a layering piece. The Halogen tee comes in a variety of neutral shades and is made of a soft, stretch-knit fabric. Turtlenecks look sophisticated, and also keep you warm on cold days — and in cold offices.
A crewneck sweater is an extremely versatile item to include in your office wardrobe. Wear it with black tailored pants or jeans in a more casual office, or layer over a button-up shirt or under a blazer for a professional look that's also warm. The Halogen Crewneck Cashmere Sweater comes in a variety of colors, and the cashmere will keep you cozy and comfy.
Well Fitting Blazer
No matter what your office's dress code is, a well-fitting blazer like the Vince Camuto Stretch Cotton One-Button Blazer will automatically make your outfit look more put together. Throw a blazer on over a dress or pair it with a T-shirt and jeans at a more casual office to complete your work-appropriate look. The Vince Camuto blazer is tailored to flatter your figure but made from stretch cotton for comfort.
Most offices tend to have the air conditioning on blast no matter the time of year, so it's a good idea to keep a cozy cardigan at your desk that you can throw on when you get cold. The BP. Lightweight Rib Stitch Cardigan comes in four colors, and will give you the extra warmth you need to fend off the office chill.
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Leopard can actually be worn as a neutral, and a leopard-print cardigan is an easy way to add some visual interest to an outfit. The Halogen Three Quarter Sleeve Crewneck Cardigan in leopard offers an updated take on the classic button-up cardigan. Pair it with black pants, dark jeans or a pencil skirt to complete the modern look.
Comfortable Black Tailored Pants
A pair of black tailored pants is a must for any working woman's wardrobe, as they can be paired with casual tops, button-downs, sweaters, blazers and more. The Vince Camuto Stretch Twill Ankle Pants look polished, but are made with a stretch material so they're comfortable, too.
Black Pencil Skirt
A black pencil skirt will go with any top in your work wardrobe, and looks great paired with a pair of black leather pumps. The Halogen Ponte Pencil Skirt is tailored to look chic, but isn't too tight to be inappropriate. Plus, it's made of a stretch material, so it doesn't feel too restrictive.
Dark Washed Jeans
If you work in a casual office or one that celebrates casual Friday, you'll want to invest in a pair of dark-wash jeans like the J.Crew Lookout High Rise Jeans. Dark jeans always look more dressed up than those of a lighter wash, which makes them suitable for office wear. Avoid jeans with rips or embellishments, as they are not appropriate for most office settings.
If you work in a formal office, or want to make a positive impression at an important meeting or presentation, make sure you have a skirt suit as part of your wardrobe. This Anne Klein Jacket & Skirt Outfit in classic black is perfect for occasions when business casual isn't quite dressed up enough. Wear with a basic camisole, statement blouse or button-up shirt to complete the look.
A good alternative to a skirt suit, a pants suit is an outfit that will automatically command respect from colleagues and business associates. Make sure you opt for a tailored silhouette, so you look put together and not frumpy. The T Tahari Jolie Stretch Woven Suit Jacket and Marlena Ankle Pants are sure to impress.
A classic trench coat, like the London Fog Heritage Trench Coat with Detachable Liner, never goes out of style. A trench automatically makes you look put together, even on rainy days. This London Fog trench features a classic double-breasted design and a removable belt. It's also weatherproof and washer/dryer safe.
During cold weather months, the first impression you make when you walk into a room is often based on your coat. A pea coat has an air of sophistication, and the faux fur collar on the Topshop Nina Double Breasted Coat makes it a little more playful than the classic version.
A chic scarf completes a cold-weather look and also helps keep you warm when running between meetings. The Topshop Super Soft Fringe Scarf comes in classic shades that will match any coat, and is oversized for a modern look.
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A classic watch is as functional as it is fashionable. A silver and gold watch like the Kate Spade New York Washington Square Bracelet Watch matches any outfit, and also keeps you looking professional — while helping you be on time for meetings.
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Block Heel Pumps
A low, block heel pump is stylish and practical for days when you know you'll be running around but still want to look put together. The 1.STATE Saffy Block Heel Pump is made of a luxe velvet suede, and includes a cushioned foot bed for extra comfort.
Black Leather Pumps
Black leather pumps are classics that pair well with any work ensemble. They can be dressed up or down, making them ideal no matter what your office's dress code is. The MICHAEL Michael Kors Dorothy Flex Pump should definitely be a staple in your work wardrobe.
Versatile Nude Flats
There are going to be days when you just don't want to wear heels to work, and for those days, flats are a good alternative. A nude flat matches every outfit, and the Sam Edelman Raisa Bow Flat elevates a traditional nude flat with a studded bow detail and pointed toe. This shoe can be worn workdays and weekends, and is easily dressed up or down.
Although it's a good idea to stick to a neutral palette when selecting your work clothes, you can have a little more fun with footwear. The Sam Edelman Hazel Pointy Toe Pump comes in lots of bold colors, including pink suede and true red patent leather. The pair would make a great accent to a traditional black suit.
Spacious Tote Bag
Invest in a well-made tote bag that's large enough to fit your laptop and everything else you might need for the day, so that you're prepared to go from work to wherever the day takes you. The Tory Burch Parker Leather Tote features multiple pockets, perfect for carrying a computer, wallet, phone, makeup, snacks and more.
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Black Leather Bag
For evening meetings or days when you don't want to lug around a large tote, a black leather bag is a safe choice. The Kate Spade New York Cameron Street Hope Saffiano Leather Crossbody Bag features a structured shape and gold accents. It also has a removable strap, so you can wear it as a crossbody bag as well.
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A pair of stud earrings is an understated way to add sparkle to your work wardrobe. The Nordstrom Precious Metal Plated 1ct tw Cubic Zirconia Earrings are elegant and timeless, and go with anything. Not a fan of diamonds or cubic zirconia? Pearl studs are a great alternative.
When you're wearing pants with belt loops, it's important to have a classic leather belt to complete your look. The Halogen Square Keeper Belt comes in black and cognac, and at under $30, you can afford one in both colors.
As a rule of thumb, you should always match your belt to your shoes.
All prices were accurate as of Nov. 30, 2017 and sourced from Nordstrom.com. Prices are subject to change at the retailers' discretion.