10 Items Every Professional Woman Must Own

10 items every professional woman must own

Coming up with an outfit that is both professional and stylish can be really tough and just plain exhausting. However, there are a few essential items that every woman must have in her professional wardrobe. These will not only make her life easier, but these are also the main components of style. And she doesn’t have to spend a fortune on them either. We spoke with Dianna Baros, founder of The Budget Babe, and Kelly Larkin, founder of the fashion blog KellyintheCity.com, on this subject.

The Blazer

Clearly some professions require women to wear suits (usually the ladies in finance and law), but even if a suit is not required, every woman needs a blazer. You can spend the big bucks at J.Crew or Brooks Brothers, but Baros says you can find great ones at H&M as well.

A great pair of heels

Black, beige and for the slightly more daring, leopard. As Marilyn Monroe famously said, “‘Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” I’m all for being comfortable, but sometimes you just need a few extra inches. Just make sure you can actually walk in these shoes.

The Pencil Skirt

This is a major essential. You can make the skirt appropriate and corporate with a crisp white shirt and black heels, or you can edge it up. “Pencil skirts are probably the most versatile article of clothing in a young professional woman’s closet, as they can be dressed up or down. Who doesn’t love the pencil skirt and v-neck t-shirt look?!” Larkin suggests belting the skirt. Or why not rock a peplum top. Take it to the next level with skirts in black leather, bright colours and bold patterns, and those with cascading layers.

A statement necklace

It is all about the statement necklace today. Necklaces seem to be getting big and bolder by the day. Seriously, Cleopatra would balk at some of the necklaces J.Crew is selling this season. But a statement necklace doesn’t have to be a huge, bright shiny item. It can be a simple string of pearls. It is called a statement necklace, because it captures someone’s attention; it shows you are making a bold choice.

The Sheath Dress

Baros says, “A sheath dress is essential and always looks professional – pick a dark gemstone hue like Bordeaux or emerald. These colours are as slimming as black, but add richness to your work wardrobe.”

Power flats

Heels will always be in style, but in recent years flats have made a real impact. They are sharper, pointier and stylish. And unlike heels, there is less of a chance that you will twist your ankle.

A white button-down blouse

A blouse or collared shirt. You have to be as clean as can be when you wear them but if you avoid spilling coffee, you can knock them dead in this look. Larkin says, “To add personality to your outfits, invest in a few silk button-downs in different colors. I find that I wear my fuschia, cobalt, and Kelly green silk shirts constantly. Pair one with a stand of pearls or some chunky gold jewelry, and you’ll look completely put-together!”

A statement bag

As Samantha Jones from Sex & the City said, “It’s not so much the style, it’s what carrying it means.”  A statement bag isn’t necessarily huge (think of the Louis Vuitton Pouchette), but it is usually a recognizable brand. “Every young professional woman should have a structured bag that carries everything she needs during the course of the day. I love the Tory Burch Robinson Double Zip Tote, which holds a ton but doesn’t look like a suitcase,” says Larkin.  Often it can cost a lot, but this works because it shows you have financial power. Don’t sport the Birkin on your first day at work of your unpaid internship, but in your late’ 20s if you’ve saved enough, you may look pretty sharp carrying a Prada bag. “A great watch, handbag and scarf can also be found for very little and yet these accessories can elevate any business look,” Baros says.

A cardigan

Every girl needs a cardigan. Black, neutral, camel, navy, etc., Bring a little bit of Jackie O. into the boardroom.

Tall black heeled boots

These are great in the winter and fall and give you a bit of an edge. Just don’t wear them with a short skirt unless you are wearing tights.

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the former editor in chief of the women's career site, The Grindstone. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire @ Work, The Jane Dough, DailyWorth, SheKnows.com, Business Insider and Learnvest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys reading, jogging, SoulCycle and playing with her small dog, Otis.


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