What Your Wardrobe Should Look Like 50% work staples, 40% casual basics, 10% dressy items.
Practical yet refined pieces are ideal for those who need to be comfortable and professional, says Lloyd Boston, the author of The Style Checklist ($23, amazon.com). Teachers, salespeople, frequent travelers; that’s you. Good additions to these staples: a classic trench, ankle-length pants in a ponte knit, and a colorful cardigan.
Wedge booties. Shock-absorbing saviors that up the cool quotient of skirts and pants. To buy: Cole Haan boots.
Long pendant. Jazzes up any outfit. To buy: R.J. Graziano necklace.
Stretch-with-you dress. As flattering as a wrap, but with no risk of a peep show. Synthetic blends are virtually wrinkle-free. To buy: L.K. Bennett dress.
Knit skirt. This nonclingy, knee-length pick just skims the body. To buy: Eileen Fisher skirt.
Shape-shifting belt. “Stash it in your bag to change up your outfit in seconds,” says Boston. To buy: Garnet Hill belt.
Just-big-enough tote. Lug your life without weighing yourself down. To buy: Pour La Victoire bag.
Flowy top. V-necked, cap-sleeve, and versatile, whether it’s tucked in or worn loose. To buy: Loft top.
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If You Spend Most of Your Time at the Office
What Your Wardrobe Should Look Like 60% work staples, 30% dressy items, 10% casual basics.
Stick with classics, but stand out from the working stiffs by peppering a subdued palette with jewel tones, like ruby and sapphire. Other team players: a crisp white shirt, a tailored blazer, and a knee-length skirt.
Carryall with cachet. Professional polish doesn’t require a corner-office paycheck. To buy: H&M bag.
Do-it-all sheath. Today’s version of power dressing also works after hours. To buy: CH Carolina Herrera dress.
Sharp watch. Because when you pull out your smartphone for a time check, you look as if you’re slacking off. To buy: Peugeot watch.
Workhorse black pants. Understated enough to wear to death, and the drapey fit makes button-downs chic. To buy: Wallis pants.
Bold collarbone-grazing necklace. It’s the ideal length for modest necklines, says Gretta Monahan, the author of Style and the Successful Girl ($30, amazon.com). To buy: Lydell NYC necklace.
Bow blouse. Softens the corporate vibe of pencil skirts. To buy: Amour Vert top.
Neutral heels. Conservative? Yes. Boring? No way. To buy: Zara heels.
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If You Spend Most of Your Time Out and About
What Your Wardrobe Should Look Like 40% dressy items, 30% casual basics, 30% work staples.
There always seems to be a dinner, a work event, a casual get-together, or a big bash to go to. That means you need dressed-up pieces that you can adapt for any occasion, says New York City–based personal stylist Samantha Brown of Style for Hire. Dark jeans, layering tees, and an LBD will round out your closet.
Metallic clutch. A color like silver is seasonless and goes with everything. To buy: Banana Republic L’Wren Scott Collection clutch.
Wear-anywhere top. Seriously—movie night, a business meeting, a dinner party. To buy: Simply Vera Vera Wang top.
Showstopping earrings. Go all out. Even the most sparkly danglers can jibe with a laid-back sweater. To buy: Loft earrings.
Patterned party skirt. Gives you more options than a dress. Depending on what you pair it with, it can be ultra-fancy or sort of sweet. To buy: Orla Kiely skirt.
Statement heels. “When you’re wearing amazing shoes, you don’t have to try so hard with your outfit,” says Boston. To buy: Boden heels.
Jeweled cardigan. It’s festive enough to skip jewelry entirely. To buy: Magaschoni cardigan.
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If You Spend Most of Your Time at Home
What Your Wardrobe Should Look Like 70% casual basics, 20% dressy items, 10% work staples.
It’s easy to fall into a yoga-pants rut when you telecommute or take care of the kids. What you could really use are styles that can multitask around the house as effectively as you do and look smart when you venture out. The goal is an outfit that looks pulled-together but not overly fussy, says Brown. Mix up your rotation with flat boots, a chambray shirt, and quality leggings.
Fun flats. Bold color and details amplify a low-key look. To buy: Lands’ End flats.
Billowy tunic. As chilled-out as a T-shirt yet entirely feminine. To buy: Comptoir des Cotonniers blouse.
Oversize cardigan. Bathrobe-cozy but also sophisticated. To buy: Theonne cardigan.
Whisper-weight scarf. One less thing to worry about. “It takes the place of a necklace, adding color to a neutral outfit while providing warmth,” says Monahan. To buy: Echo scarf.
Utilitarian cross-body bag. You may need your hands to hold, well, smaller hands. To buy: Eileen Fisher bag.
Default denim. When jeans feel as stretchy as leggings, you’ll want to wear them every day. To buy: Old Navy jeans.