My School Uniform

Comparison of the "cowboy" heel and ...

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A friend at work sent me a link today on five wardrobe essentials for the female academic in humanities, knowing that #2 (cardigans) are high on my list. I’d been tossing around the idea of a post on my own school uniform for awhile after reading some great advice on work wardrobes, so here instead are my own work wardrobe essentials:

  1. CARDIGANS!  I am the queen of cardigans, and I think you should be too.  I’d recommend them in your neutrals (I own black, brown, grey, navy), but I’d also recommend them in some colors and prints, preferably in the same palette of colors you wear a lot of already (for me: green, blue, purple, pink).  Brown skirt + printed top + brown cardigan= pulled-together look, just as white top + black pants + printed cardigan= pulled-together look.  Plus of course, you get to solve the pesky air-conditioning issue and can stretch out how long you can wear your cute short-sleeved tops.  Cardigans are the quintessential “cozy” in my mind.
  2. DRESSES!  When I was younger, I saw dresses as only for fancy occasions, and I was much more of a t-shirt-and-jeans kind of girl.  Now I see dresses as the perfect wardrobe solution for busy mornings.  Woke up late?  Throw on a dress.  Too tired to match separate pieces?  Throw on a dress.  Feeling shlumpy?  Throw on a dress.  Don’t want something uncomfortable pulling across your waist?  Choose a dress!  Worried about seeming too casual?  Dress!  Done and done.  Put on a cardigan over it in the cooler weather and wear it even more.
  3. TIGHTS!  If you’re going to wear dresses all year, you need tights, but also, tights can add a certain flair and cohesion to your outfit.  I like to match my tights to my cardigans if I’m wearing a solid colored one, but sometimes tights can add an interesting pattern (I like herringbone) or element of color.
  4. NECKLACES!  I don’t wear earrings, other than two silver cartilage piercings in my left ear, and I don’t do bracelets or rings other than my wedding bands.  But I do definitely do necklaces, which can be an easy way to add something sparkly, pick up a color in a print, or be a neutral that ties your outfit together again.  I like to match my necklace to the palette of my tights/cardigans/shoes, and I buy most of mine at Target.
  5. PENCIL SKIRTS!  These are my absolute favorites– fitted, flattering, appropriate, easy to find, easy to wear.  For the curvy and/or pear-shaped among us, a good pencil skirt is your friend.  I have them in cotton and corduroy, prints and solids, and am always delighted to find more.
  6. BOOTS!  If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know about my love affair with boots.  Right now I have two leather pairs (brown and black, both riding-style) and two suede pairs (low heels, gray and wine), as well as my trusty cowboy boots that I wear with jeans on the weekends.  Would I like more?  Of course, though I have not yet been persuaded by the ankle-boot phenomenon.

I don’t consider myself particularly stylish or bold, and there are a lot of trends and pieces that are simply beyond me-I don’t wear belts, or many scarves, or certain colors (yellow), and most of my pieces would safely be called “basic.”  It’s taken me a lot of research and shopping (and money!), but now I can safely say I know what I like, and keeping these colors, pieces and rules in mind makes adding to my work closet much simpler than it was when I first began.

Tell me about your work wardrobe!