You won’t find Narnia in this professional wardrobe.

Putting together a professional wardrobe isn’t always easy. You’ll have to take into account the work environment, season and occasion, all while making it work on a student budget.

It’s a good idea to begin building a professional wardrobe with a couple essential pieces. No last minute panic to find your one collared shirt for that impromptu interview!

And these essential pieces will go with you throughout your career, whether you’re going into the office, attending a trade convention or enjoying a formal celebration at work.

1. Formal top

We’re pretty sure everyone has a white collared button down. Consider a short sleeve button down or blouse with breathable fabric for the summer months.

Something you might not expect to be a business casual top is a turtle neck. Turtle necks can be great to wear under a blazer—and make you look like a suave Bond villain.

2. Formal bottom

Some formal bottoms are chinos, slacks, trousers, dress pants and skirts. Not a fan of restrictive formal pants? Look for bottoms with pleats for your professional wardrobe.

Pleats help define the pant’s or skirt’s structure while the extra fabric gives you more room for movement. It’s a game changer to be able to do a low squat in formal pants—and they’re just comfier.

3. Blazer

There’s tons of possibilities with blazers! Let’s talk classic colours—you can’t go wrong with black, grey and blue. Plus, there’s lots of fun fabric patterns like houndstooth, twill, tattersall and tweed.

It’s the ultimate adulting power move to match your blazer to your bottoms.

4. Office shoes

Loafers, mules and oxfords are probably the most common business casual shoes. Plus, they’ll match well with formal bottoms. GQ and Harper’s Bazaar have their lists of the best office shoes, ranging from leather sneakers to suede loafers.

Other options include derbies (a more relaxed version of the Oxford), flats and Chelsea boots.

5. Belt

A belt is the chance to show off some style! And, will be helpful if there’s a wardrobe malfunction or broken zipper. A simple brown or black belt will go with any outfit, particularly if you’re wearing more formal pants.

6. Sweater

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A sweater comes in handy when the AC is on in the summer. During the winter, it’ll keep you cozy. A nice sweater or half-zip sweater can be more formal by wearing a collared shirt underneath.

The best way to save money on buying these essential pieces is to invest in quality items that will last. Additionally, buying these staples in basic colours and neutrals will allow you to wear them together interchangeably.

A professional outfit will give you confidence. Combine it with the smart student’s guide to setting SMART goals to tackle any task!

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