Cultivating a Professional Wardrobe

The other moment, while I was getting dressed for work, I had a sudden moment of realization. As I looked in the mirror, it hit me: I still dress like a teenager, like a college student, like someone looking for a job. Realistically, my workplace doesn't require formal business attire -- we have a very casual work environment. We can wear jeans whenever we want and the line is pretty much only drawn at taste as far as what we can't wear -- short skirts are out and so are plunging necklines, but those aren't things I would wear to work anyway (no matter how casual). Since I'm now at a job that I legitimately love, I really want to make sure I dress the part!

Looking in the mirror, I realized I was still heavily relying on trends and pieces to carry my style, rather than trying to dress like me. In that way, I wasn't dressing like an adult, or anywhere close to professional. I have a lot of "grown up" clothes -- nice tops, blouses, jackets, and dresses -- but I often pair them in ways that make me seem younger and aren't appropriate to my life anymore. At 24 years old, I shouldn't be pairing purple corduroy jeggings with a fair isle sweater just because I work in a casual environment and I can and I like it. I should be dressing my best everyday and looking my best, the way I used to. 

I used to be really passionate about getting dressed in the morning. At the time, I was at a completely different point in my life. I work a full-time job now and I have much more responsibility and stress than I once did. In the past year, I've lost a lot of my passion for getting dressed in the morning. In trying to regain it back, I'm still going to outfits I used to wear because they used to make me feel great. Back in my Sophomore year of college, I worked to dress in a way I loved. I realize now I have to relearn what my style is and retrain my brain to think that way. I've started looking at blogs that lean heavily towards preppy styles -- because when I think of business casual, it really is "preppy" that I see -- and I've starting putting together outfit ideas form my already existing wardrobe, since I don't have the means to go out and re-do my entire wardrobe*.

*Honestly, who does!? 

Let's talk outfits. Let's talk pants.

Two years ago, I went through this weird thing where I stopped wearing pants. I think I went a year or so without putting on pants once. No dress pants, no jeans. Only yoga pants (in the privacy of my own home). I was a pants hater and it was sad. In many ways, not wearing jeans liberated me in a way that allowed me to develop a style all of my own. In the past few months, I've started wearing jeans more often than not. I remember back to when I stopped wearing jeans and I remember that I used to really heavily rely on jeans. They were all I wore. 

In many ways, I'm in the same place again, although this time I do own some work-appropriate, non-jeans pants. For whatever reason, I'm still in the mindset that pants are harder to wear than dresses and skirts or perhaps just too boring (even though I wear jeans twice a week or more!), so I reject them. However, I think pants and trousers are one of the easiest ways to dress grown up and professional. 

I own a pair of polka dot trousers and a pair of navy blue trousers that I love. The outfit I put together above is something I would wear -- I have a similar floral top and while I don't have a raspberry jacket (I wish I did -- that may be on my "when I win the lottery" list), I do have several blazers that would work. I love the idea of mixing my more professional looking trousers with my slightly less professional tops -- it gives all the pieces of my wardrobe mileage. Just pop a blazer or a nice cardigan on top, pair with some cute heels, and it's an outfit that makes me look like an adult. 

I have skirt problems. I don't know if I've ever talked about this a lot, but skirts and I tend to not get along. My waist is proportionally much smaller than my hips, butt, and thighs (proportionally everything is smaller than my hips, butt and thighs, so that's not saying much) and when I wear skirts, they all tend to ride up. From my thighs to hips, from hips to thighs, everything tries to travel north. It makes wearing skirts very difficult and it's why I cling so hard to body con skirts... even though their shape, fabric, and appearance is not appropriate in any work setting. They just fit me. Pencil skirts don't. 

I'm willing to try though. This weekend, I obtained two new skirts -- one courtesy of my mother and another from Target. I'm looking forward to pairing them both with my nicer already-owned blouses and learning how to make skirts work on my otherwise unruly body shape. 

So, on my "look like a person with a job" to do list is: pair those trousers I love with better tops and blazers to look put-together; find a skirt that works and work it; think about my outfits, rather than putting on something that once worked for me (when I was in school). As I re-learn how to be stylish, I'll be getting rid of items in my closet that just don't work anymore (which will me letting go of a lot of items that have sentimental value). 

Do you have any ideas for dressing more professionally? 


  1. Loving this post, Michelle! The new job I'm starting tomorrow seems to be more casual than my last one, so I'm having to move from wearing pencil skirts and jackets everyday to jeans, but I agree with you - I don't want to wear them like I did when I was younger. These outfits you've put together are perfect - I just love the first one!! I'm hoping to be able to do more outfit posts of my workwear now that I'll be doing normal hours (not staying till 11pm to put teenagers to bed!!).

  2. Great points! I'm so glad I work in the art industry so I do have some freedom to play with my outfits, but I still work in an artist and have to maintain a professional look. Blazers and blouses are my go-to wardrobe staple! Nice blog, great content :D


Thank you for reading my blog! :]
xo Michelle

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