Building a stylish professional wardrobe (and sale shopping)

I’m a graduate student, which means I generally spend my days in lab.  And unfortunately, when I read reviews of clothing online, I see a lot of “perfect for the office!” — nobody ever seems to mention the lab (except for a few rare instances – maybe I should start writing reviews??).  Besides following the style trends of my more fashionable female professors, I have no idea what scientists should wear.  Yet I’m often reminded of this quote by Marie Curie:

I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.

So, long story short, I’m trying to make my outfits less slacker-looking — ‘leveling up’ from American Apparel stretchy interlock pencil skirts, boring vintage tees, and jeans to a slightly more business-casual wardrobe.

A quick google search later and the internet served up The Essentials of Building a Fashionable Personal Wardrobe, which provided a lot of helpful tips, including the kinds of quality, stylish, well-fitting pieces you would want in your wardrobe.  Also, this great article at WSJ describes how to rebuild a wardrobe from scratch.  (And has a part 2!)  These guides focus on rebuilding your wardrobe with a few stylish, well-fitting, quality pieces.  And so, I obsessively stalked 4th of July sales in stores and online … I think I may have gone a bit overboard, but hey, I had just cleaned out my closet… and you can find my stuff on eBay.

So these are the pieces I kept – I don’t recommend doing what I did and going crazy, for the record – the style guides also indicate that you should pace yourself when trying to rebuild your wardrobe – but the extra 30-40% off sales that were going on around the web at places like AT, Banana Republic, J Crew, and Boden were just too good for me to pass up.


– Ann Taylor:

petite cap sleeve wrap dress (in navy – now sold out!)
cap sleeve wrap dress (in lavish coral)
perfect black patent leather pointy pumps
‘neon light’ sunburst necklace
delicate dangling pearlized bead necklace

– J Crew
jackie pullover in warm jade and navy
petite stretch long-sleeve perfect shirt in misty aqua
petite stretch 3/4-sleeve perfect shirt in casablanca blue
no. 2 cotton double-serge pencil skirt in black and marrakesh (not sure about the marrakesh color – seems a little too bright for work – but it was a final sale at the brick & mortar j crew near me, so it might show up in my eBay auctions soon).

– Boden
chic jersey dress in navy

And, with that, I can safely say that I’m done with the harrowing process of finding quality clothes that fit short people properly … for a while.

Edited to add: this wonderful post at The Professor Is In seems to have answered all my ‘what the heck do i wear to grad school?’ questions!  Believe you me, finding a chic blazer is next on my list!


One thought on “Building a stylish professional wardrobe (and sale shopping)

  1. Pingback: Chic on the Cheap: Ann Taylor Friends and Family Sale Finds | neurosciency

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