I’ve been getting requests over the past few weeks to outline what constitutes a functional and enjoyable work wardrobe. Of course (as I mentioned in my last post, “It Depends”) I can give general advice over the blog – the specifics for you will require a bit more info. Here is a good set of guidelines to follow when planning your ideal work wardrobe:

1. Budget: Your clothing budget should be 5-10% of your annual income. You’ll get the most bang from your buck if you build your wardrobe from modules – that’s 6 pieces of clothing that will yield 6-12 outfits, plus accessories.

2. What to pick? Choose items you can dress up or down, especially if you live in a geographically casual town such as Vancouver. A jacket is always a good idea, especially for credibility. A bit of personality is important, so make sure your clothing reflects you well.

3. How to combine the pieces? One of the best formulas is the 1,2,3. 1 Jacket, 2 Bottoms, 3 Tops, in coordinating colours. If you’re working a standard 40-hour workweek, you’ll need two. If you choose items that work with either module, you’ll have more options. Here are two module examples with similar colours:


With a conservative shoe (one flat and one heel for variety), some accessories to pull the colours together and keeping yourself well covered (no lower than two fingers below the top of your sternum for necklines and no higher than an inch above the knee for skirts), you’ll make a good impression no matter where you work.