Nine Wardrobe Staples To Consider

The following post is from Marissa over at Thirty Six Months, where she talks about investing, paying off her student debts, and saving money along the way. I really enjoyed it because I am all about investing in quality. In fact, based on Marissa’s recommendations I might re-evaluate (AGAIN) my own work wardrobe. Make sure to stop by her blog and say “Hi.”

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I pride myself on my frugality, but I also love quality. I love quality in a lot of different things, especially my wardrobe. I work in an environment where I deal with a lot of clients on a daily basis, and some of these meetings end up being outside of work hours, thus any item of clothing has to be versatile enough to go from day wear to evening wear with minimal effort.

When I first started my blog and started to pay off my debt, I thought that I could slash my wardrobe budget easily and I could find the same item of clothing at a fraction of the price. Oh, how wrong I was.

A wardrobe, especially a work wardrobe, essentially sets the tone of how business meeting will be conducted. Especially when you are meeting a client or employer for the first time. It sends a message about how seriously you take yourself and the tasks at hand. The only exception to this rule would be the creative types. They have their own style that doesn’t fit into a box.

Now, I am not saying that you need to buy the most expensive pieces all the time but there are times where certain items of clothing can be considered an investment. I’m sure Aloysa will agree with me. (a note from Aloysa: ABSOLUTELY!)

Because I travel a lot for work, I need my wardrobe staples to be very flexible. So if you are thinking of building a work wardrobe from the ground up, I would recommend investing in the following pieces.

2 pairs of pants

One grey and one black. Pay close attention to the stitching at the seams and make sure it is a “heavier” material. Ladies, this will keep everything where it supposed to be without adding any giggly areas.

A fitted blazer

This can be worn over jeans or over dress pants and instantly dresses up an outfit. I throw mine on over jeans and a t-shirt and add a scarf or a bracelet and am ready to go in a few minutes.

2 Cardigans

These can be in brighter colors. Not only will they provide warmth, but they will also dress up or complete an outfit. Again, fit is extremely important. You have to be able to close the buttons without bulging in places.

A winter coat

I invested in a black wool with embellished buttons. I can wear over casual clothes and well as dressy ones. Its very warm. Stay away from ‘puffy’ jackets if you can. They are hard to accessorize.

2 Great pairs of heels

I have a pair of 4 inch black stilettos that instantly dress up any outfit and make me feel like a million bucks. Make sure it is good quality and invest in a pair of insoles. There is nothing worse than being at the party of the year and you wanting to go home because your feet hurt. I also have a 2 inch pair for some of my dresses.

A black dress

No, not that kind of black dress. This type of black is can go from the boardroom to cocktails after work really easily. I like a combination of Rayon and polyester. Remember that cardigan I mentioned earlier, well throw that one and some earrings and you are all set.

7 work blouses

The key here is to keep it modest, but fitted, and make your shoulders are covered. Trashy doesn’t get you the promotion, ladies.

2 skirts

This will be different for everyone since not every type of shirt fits every body type. I have a dark gray pencil skirt and a black fuller skirt. They serve the same purpose. The key is to make sure that is not too short and if in doubt, wear some dark tights underneath.


I am not a big jewelry person, but I do throw on the odd necklace once in a while. I am allergic to certain metals to I sometimes swap necklaces for scarfs. These can dress up an outfit really easily/cheaply.

Well, there you go. These are my wardrobe staples and constitute the biggest chunk of clothing budget, but these items are timeless and can be worn for a few years. I mix and match different seasonal items to keep my wardrobe temperature appropriate.

What are some of your items that you spent a lot of money on? And was it worth it?

30 thoughts on “Nine Wardrobe Staples To Consider”

  1. Having read and understood the above, I think it is harder for women to look the part than it is for men. How glad I am thinking about how much more my wardrobe would cost me.

  2. I bought a black sheath at a consignment store (i know ALoysa is not a fan of second hand clothing : P )
    . It didn’t have much shape to it, but I took it to a tailor and upped the hemline to just above the knee, and I get so many compliments every time I wear it: total cost of the purchase and tailoring? $20.

    1. I am not a fan of those stores, so true. Just cannot force myself to shop there. Even low prices don’t attract me. 🙁

  3. I’ll have to forward this to my wife 🙂
    As a software developer sitting in a cube, it often seems that having pants is more important that what they look like as long as they look presentable.

  4. I also have a pair of light brown pants, but I’d go down to just black and grey if I had to.
    I like the idea of a blazer. I am in the process of looking for a couple fashion color blazers/suit jackets. That way they can be worn with either the black or the grey slacks, and you’re not in trouble if this year’s grey is not next year’s grey (when you have to replace things) or if the black on the slacks is more faded than the black on the jacket.
    I have a number of cardigan like things.
    Blouses rarely fit me well. I’m fat, and they often look very sloppy in their fit (plus I do not iron), so I do a lot with camisoles. Black and white ones are required, but I also have a few in bright jewel tones that can be worn under cardigans. Also being fat, camisoles are often necessary to make sure some sweaters remain work appropriate. Not only do you need to make sure your shoulders are covered, there should be minimal cleavage in a work outfit.
    I don’t wear heals. I have bad ankles and I’m tall. But having good work shoes is very important. I recently spent $200 on a pair. (I cringe every time I think about that.) But I will wear them every day. I work someplace where tennis shoes with your slacks isn’t a violation of the dress code, but trust me, people notice. If you have foot pain/issues (which I do), it’s better to invest in an expensive pair of work shoes than just to wear your tennies.

    Great overall list!

  5. The ladies definitely have it tougher in the work place or in general when it comes to attire. Clothes for women are just so darn expensive.

  6. I focus on spending money on attractive shirts and shoes.

    Marissa, your point here would seem to hold true for men also: it looks like you focus on clothing that’s versatile so you can accessorize widely. Accessories are much cheaper than the actual clothing, saving you money.

  7. Good Cents Savings

    Great list! I think it’s a really smart point you make to invest in the things you’ll wear over and over again, and if they’re quality you won’t have to replace them as often or have them not look nice. (I try to find quality items at low prices by shopping clearance sales at the outlets – you might get things off season and have to wait to wear them but I have had really good luck there.) I find myself drawn to cute dresses when I’m shopping but I wear jeans almost every day – for work, weekends, going out, etc. It would make much more sense to pass up the dresses and invest in a nice pair of jeans I feel great in.

  8. This is a great list! I have everything on there, except I need one more skirt (and I have 4 blazers lol)

    I get a lot of mileage out of dresses at work too. They are the best. Sometimes the difference between work and play in a dress is just trading your flats for stilettos. Easy!

  9. I have all of these things, except the winter coat. I do have some dressy coats but really nothing warm. The only bummer is that I bought all of these staples when I was 22 lbs heavier – now they are all a little big on me (I bought them big to begin with because I wasn’t a fan of form fitting when I was at a higher weight).

    I have a gift card to a store I love for work stuff, which I can’t wait to use at the end of February. I need to buy some black dress pants that actually fit, and hopefully a grey blazer and a dress shirt.

    My cardigans are great, but once again, getting a little big – big is tacky. I need to do a wardrobe revamp once I lose my last 10 lbs.

  10. I’d add a pair of pearl studs and a nice structured leather purse to the list. Goes with everything and always appropriate!

    I used to wear a lot of black – still do, actually – but I am expanding my universe of “neutrals” and now find myself with deep plum, charcoal, navy, etc., and everything still looks good together.

    1. I agree! A nicely structured bag always gives a sharp look.
      I also wear a lot of black. I bought some really bright colors lately. Red and lime! Lime looks really good with… black! lol

  11. Ugh, guy here, but I like clothes too!

    I like owning nice pants and shirts for work. Grey pants are a staple for me. Some are plain, some have pinstripes. They go well with almost everything.

    Except for my hawaiian shirt. Kidding.

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  15. I’m in favor of a black blazer for maximum flexibility. It looks great with jeans as well as both pairs of pants, and many skits & dresses. It gives a suit look with black pants or black skirts. Wear a dressy camisole with those to change to a night out look. I, too, love scarves. They are so easy to pack for trips to add some flair to basic outfits. Great post & you have me thinking!

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