The 15 Key Pieces Needed for Building the Perfect Professional Wardrobe

When it comes to building an appropriate work wardrobe many women seem to find the task at hand more difficult than the actual career itself. In the work place we want to be treated equally, valued for our contributions, and respected by our pears - and while we prefer to look good, we don't want our appearance to detract from our professional goals. So what is a girl to do? Well to help make things a little easier has compiled a list of 15 basic pieces every girl should have in her professional work wardrobe. From suit separated, to carryalls - these 15 pieces will keep you looking smart, stylish, and appropriate in any professional environment!

1. Blazer Coordinate

A well tailored blazer can add instant polish to almost any outfit. For work we recommend a light-weight wool gabardine in a dark color or pattern. Make sure that your jacket fits comfortably throughout the shoulders, defines your waist, and has sleeves that reach all the way past your wrist bones. The more basic you keep the style of your blazer, the easier it will be to mix-match and reuse throughout the work week.

2. Trouser Coordinate

A basic dark-colored trouser is an absolute must in every woman's professional wardrobe. Not only is the style timeless, but it is also universally flattering, and goes with everything! For work we recommend a pant made out of a wrinkle resistant light-weight wool gabardine (like your blazer, and other coordinate pieces), in a bootcut style. Other cuts can work as well, but the bootcut style is generally considered the most flattering because the flared leg helps balance out a woman's hips.

3. Skirt Coordinate

Cut is key when it comes to choosing the right work skirt for your professional wardrobe. Depending on your shape a slimming pencil, A-line, or pleated option might be best. Obviously you don't want anything too short - knee length, or ever so slightly above is acceptable.

4. Dress Coordinate

An office appropriate work dress can make a stylish addition to any professional wardrobe. Look for styles that have plenty of coverage, knee length hemlines, and tailored details. Depending on your shape you may prefer a close fitting sheath dress, or a looser fitting shift dress. We also recommend work dresses with a sleeveless style because you can change their look more easily; try layering the dress over a pretty collared blouse or pairing it under your blazer.

5. Vest Coordinate

As a slightly less obvious additional to your work wardrobe we recommend a vest coordinate to mix-and match along with your other suit separates. Vests are great for the office because they pack a ton of style, layer easily, and can be worn in a variety of ways. Try it worn open over a collared shirt, buttoned up under your blazers, or paired over a ruffled blouse for a look that is truly professional and chic.

6. Collared Shirt

Ahhhh! The sweet smell of starched cotton! That's right, we're talking about the classic collared shirt, and if we had to choose we'd pick a white one. The style is so crisp, clean, and versatile - a girl should never be without one. Wear it to work, for an evening out, or even to the beach on the weekend. Make sure you choose a comfortable fit, and consider that some materials will breathe better than others. If you plan to wear it layered under other pieces opt for a style with some stretch that fits closer to the body - you definitely won't be wanting any extra bulk.

7. V-Neck Sweater

A light-weight V-neck sweater is universally flattering, work appropriate, and versatile. Choose one that is insulating made out of pure Merino Wool or 100% Cashmere, and opt for high quality knits (they are generally more expensive; but they are also less likely to pill and well worth the extra money). Also stick to solid colors as you will get more versatility out of them; and look for shades that compliment your skin tone and brighten up your face. Wear your sweater alone, over a collared blouse, or paired under a structured blazer.

8. Silk Blouse

A great alternative to the classic collared shirt; including a satin or silk blouse in your work wardrobe can add just the right amount of feminine charm. Look for styles that have plenty of coverage (we are not talking lacy camisoles!), and interesting detail - like ruffles, poet sleeves, or a bow at the neck. Wear them with your blazers, on their own, or paired under your vest. Stick to real silk, or silk blends - and avoid the cheap polyester alternatives which just don't wear as well.

9. Trench Coat

The iconic Trench Coat. Truly this one needs no explanation. A fabulous trench coat is vital to a well rounded work wardrobe. Invest in a waterproof, wrinkle resistant fabric. Opt for classic styles that belt at the waist, and make sure that the sleeves cover all the way past your wrist bones; and for year round wearability select a coat with a removable wool liner - it will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer!

10. Pumps

Splurge on a classic pair of black pumps. Not only are they perfect for the office, but they also work for evening, and a classic style should be able to carry you throughout all four season. Invest in a pair that is both stylish, and comfortable to wear. Make sure that they don't pinch your toes, and that you are able to walk in them on both hard and carpeted surface. If you find a pair you really love and plan to wear them a lot, you may want to stock up on at least two pairs.

11. Flats

We love a sophisticated flat for the office! Not only are flats comfortable but they also come in a variety of styles; encompassing everything from ballerina flats, and pointed-toe styles, to loafers and moccasins. Accenting an outfit with a cute flat is a great way to add a touch of your personal style to any outfit. Make the perfect statement by wearing flats in fun patterns like an animal print, or interesting materials such as satin, velvet, or tweed.

12. Tailored Tote

Professionals are organized, and your bag better look if you want it to do you justice on the job. We recommend choosing a structured bag in a neutral color that will work with the majority of your wardrobe. Steer clear of funky detailing like studs, fringe, tassels, or beading and instead opt for a bag with simple / sophisticated brushed nickel, gold, or pewter hardware. Basically, the more tailored looking the better when it comes to your work bag!

13. Watch

There is no such thing as fashionably late when it comes to business so a stylish (and accurate) watch is definitely on our list! Chose a watch with clean lines and a simple face so that it can be worn every day, and opt for a sleek leather or metal strap. We recommend black if you wear more black, and brown if you favor neutral shades.

14. Earrings

Probably one of the most important accessories that a working woman can have. As an accessory they pull the attention up towards your face and help keep the focus where it should be! Keep it classy in simple styles such as small hoops, studded pearls or diamonds. Avoid anything too ornate, dangly, or large - such earrings have their place, but it's not in the office.

15. Belt

You will be amazed by the versatility that a sophisticated belt can add to your work wardrobe. Pair it over your cardigans, collared shirts, and shift dresses - thanks to celebs like Michelle Obama, belts today know no boundaries! For work we recommend at least two: one in a narrow style - that can be worn over structured pieces, and one that's a little bit wider - that can actually add structure to looser fitting garments, like your silk blouses.

Well there you have it; take stock of your closet and make sure that these 15 basic pieces are present. If you have something that looks tired, doesn't fit, or is just out of style throw it out and go find yourself a new one! Think quality not quantity; Pay attention to the items fit, construction, and versatility when making your selections and your sure to find go-to pieces that will work for you throughout the seasons.