Congratulations, you landed the job of your dreams! Time to move that stodgy interview suit to the back of your closet, pull up your calendar and make a date with your shopping buddy — You’ve got a wardrobe to build. But first, let’s talk practicality. Unless you’re rehearsing for the lead role in a revival of “The Devil Wears Prada,” don’t aim to be the most fashionable dresser in the office. It’s unattainable and will just lead to fashion-induced stress. Instead, set your sights on looking professional and polished and getting out the door on time every morning. Start with the essentials, add a dash of personality and your job is done — at least in the wardrobe department anyway.

And now, here are the top five must-haves for the well-dressed (but totally not boring) career girl.

The Power Pump

Drooling over those sky-high strappies with the ultra-slim heel and the killer attitude? Look away, girlfriend. The power pump is the key to keeping pace in the business world. And no, that doesn’t mean your mother’s basic black pump. Vivid colors, metallics and animal prints are all perfectly acceptable in the work environment barring a few caveats. Fashion blog Capitol Hill Style recommends steering clear of heels any higher than four inches. When considering bright hues such as red, fuchsia and turquoise — all of which can be versatile depending on your personal taste — “err on the side of a lower heel,” advises the Career Girl Network. Their sensible rule of thumb: The louder the shoe, the lower the heel.

Photo of Leopard pump from Target


Ah yes, the little black dress (aka the LBD). It’s the staple of smart working women worldwide. Pair it with a cardigan, cinch belt and metallic pumps for a Monday packed with meetings. Break out the LBD, patterned tights, black suede booties and a print scarf for Thursday’s team lunch. While dresses can make a deeper dent in your budget than separates, you don’t have to give up your monthly pedicures to add a few to your closet. Hold on to your lip gloss, because Target has a selection of stylish dresses — from versatile shift dresses to wrap and waist shirt styles — and many are priced at less than $30.

Photo by University of Salford from Flickr


If this is a new acronym to you, learn to love it. The white button-down is the anchor piece in a sensible girl’s work wardrobe. Pair it with tailored pants or a pencil skirt for a polished look or leave it untucked over colored skinny jeans and wedges for a casual Friday look. The trick is finding one minus the peekaboo gap between the buttons. Check out InStyle Essentials Classic Button-Front shirts, which are fitted by bra size and have an extra hidden button over the chest area to prevent gaps.

Photo by …love Maegan from Flickr

The Splurge Item

Once the staple for office posturing, the suit jacket is too stiff for today’s business casual environments. If there’s one item you might consider splurging on, it’s a timeless cashmere cardigan. With cashmere, you get what you pay for, and there’s nothing more comforting than slipping into a super comfy and well-made cardi on a stressful day.

Photo by dunikowski from Flickr

The Personality Piece

Liken jewelry to the punctuation mark at the end of your wardrobe statement. Are you a period? Consider pastel-colored pearl earrings. More of an exclamation point? Think about a brightly colored statement necklace mixed with chains and jewels. Whatever your aesthetic, avoid the temptation to go overboard and drape yourself in bling. Opt for one key piece that defines your style, or better yet, design it yourself. Kendra Scott Jewelry has an online and in-store Color Bar, where you can handpick the colors, stones and settings of earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets.

Photo by net_efekt from Flickr