How big is your work wardrobe, and how many options do you have for each type of clothing? How many blouses, pants, skirts, blazers, dresses, and sweaters do you have? How old are the majority of your pieces? If your numbers have changed from previous years, why is that? (For example: did you do a big closet purge recently? Have you lost or gained weight?) If you’ve changed jobs, how has that affected the number of pieces in your work wardrobe? If your office has changed formality, e.g., a more formal workplace to a business casual office or largely remote one, what impact has that had on the size and age of your work wardrobe? Are you filling gaps these days with bought-new workwear, thrifted workwear from years past — or with more casual clothes like jeans, athleisure, and T-shirts?
Some templates for your answers:
Type / Number / General Age (maybe total number in your possession vs total number you wear?)
- work bags:
- outerwear (coats, jackets):
- other work accessories (please describe briefly):
I’m sure we’ve talked about this in previous posts, but I can’t find them… Some other posts along these lines that might be of interest include:
- Wardrobe Essentials for Work
- Shopping Habits for Workwear (discussing some of the methods readers have mentioned in the past to keep track of the clothes they have and the clothes they need, such as “crop rotation,” spreadsheets, and moratoriums)
- How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Work
- The Minimalist’s Guide to Dressing for Work
- How to Do a Complete Wardrobe Revamp
- How to Transition a Conservative Wardrobe to a Business Casual Office (I want to update this post soon!)
- Our last discussion on annual clothing budgets (2020)
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / George Rudy.
I work in a business formal office and wear a suit or suit-equivalent 4 days a week.
3 pairs of pants
7 sheath dresses
5 shell tops
All but the suits are machine washable
When I actually went into the office, for each season I had 6 pairs of pants, 6 skirts, 6 dresses, 6 cardigans and 6 jackets and then a fluctuating number of blouses dependent on the fashion gods delivery of non sheer appropriate pieces.
There is the number I have, and the number I actually wear (and even smaller, how many do I still fit into since I haven’t tried them on since 2020?). But generally, plus or minus 1 or 2:
work bags: 2
outerwear (coats, jackets): 5
other work accessories (please describe briefly): scarves – 8
What is a good place to shop for curtains? I need them for my office, mine are very sheer and I get blinded by the sun for about 2 hours every morning.
Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs.
My work has been, and will now be, 100% remote since March 2020. I’ve been slowly purging all my beautiful suits and business attire because I had about 3 weeks of outfits. I have dresses I haven’t work since pre-covid times, and it makes me sad, but I don’t have enough opportunities to wear them in my personal life.
Same. I have no more work wardrobe. I have one black suit fabric dress that I’m keeping in case of funerals or a hypothetical important meeting. Otherwise my work wardrobe is the same as my play wardrobe – athleisure, t-shirts, shorts, jeans, sundresses, sneakers and sandals.
blouses: 7, about 4 of which I wear
pants: 8, 2 of which I have benched due to being pregnant and bloated and unable to zip them
skirts: 2, one of which is benched, see above
blazers: 4, one of which is old and from Old Navy and not very structured so I consider it a pinch hitter
dresses: 5, most of which I either get very uncomfortable sitting in or haven’t tried on in a few months
sweaters: 4 crewnecks with varying sleeves, all of which I wear constantly
3 cardigans, 1 of which I wear
heels: 2, one very scruffy black that needs replacing and one red suede that feels a bit too Extra for my sedate office
flats: 2, one scruffy red pointy-toe pair which I love and one pair black mules that are cute, but I try not to rely on them so I don’t end up with foot issues
loafers: 2, 1 pink J Crew Factory pair which pinches unbelievably and 1 black LifeStride pair which I couldn’t live without right now
work bags: just my old black Target one which I never switch
other: a beautiful blue silk scarf from my dad that I still need to figure out how to wear without looking like the Queen, and a couple department store iterations from my mother in law that are also beautiful
I think the oldest pieces besides shoes are from 2017.
Scarf – can you use it as a belt? Loop it through a ponytail elastic as a luxe hair accessory? Tie to a handbag? I have a short neck so most scarf styles are ‘meh’ on me, but I love adding the pattern where I can!
I already have a different sentimental scarf tied to my handbag, but I can’t believe I didn’t think of putting it in my hair! I love that look. Thank you!
WOW! I really need to step up my game. I have may 10 blouses, 3-4 pairs of black pants, and 2-3 dresses that fit me. My weight keeps fluctuating due to hormones (thank you perimenopause) so I’m finding it hard to afford a comprehensive work wardrobe. I maybe have 1-2 sweaters and no blazers, but I also live where it’s over 100 degrees for half the year and the office temp doesn’t drop below 78. I have a pair of black pumps and beige pumps and a pair of black flats. I leave my heels at my office in a shoe organizer under my desk and only wear flip flops to/from my car and home (I hate heels), so at least they stay in good shape for a while. :)
I had a friend in London who had two (2) work outfits. Total. She alternated. Worked at an office in the City every day. Steamed and pressed the blouse each night. She looked at me as if I was crazy when I expressed surprise that she had two work outfits. I had more than two, but certainly quite a lot less than what’s mentioned by other posters. I think people notice re-wears a lot less than assumed.
The Beagle Has Landed
I could totally get behind this minimalism/uniform MO, except for the steaming. In other words, five pairs of black or navy pants, five tops, 3 cardigans and two blazers would do me, all washable. Agreed that nobody cares if you repeat.
In reality, though, I have:
11 summer blouses and about 6 warmer winter blouses, only one group in action at a time
7 pairs of pants (all washable, and I’m partial to Krazy Larrys in neutral solids)
3 pairs jeans for casual Fridays
2 skirts, rarely worn
8 or so blazers, 3 of them sweater blazers/unstructured
4 dresses for summer, about the same number for winter
9 cardigan sweaters
10 pairs heels, mostly kitten and mid-
1 pair leather flats, 2 pairs Rothy dupes, 3 pairs sneakers
2 work bags (nylon MK totes, but really only the navy blue one gets heavy rotation)
5 belts, two brown and two black but almost never worn since I turned 60 and my waist disappeared
1 trench coat (Southern California)
My clothing rotation has 100 percent changed since COVID. Now most of my pants are nice pull-ons and dresses are rare.
Sharing a friend link for an article I wrote about breaking up with hard pants in the reply.
The Beagle Has Landed
The Beagle Has Landed
Also, business casual workplace. We deal directly with the public, so we’ve been back in the office since summer of 2020, but I do work from home about 1/4 of the time. I prefer the office as I have an distraction-free office unlike the shared home office plus three needy dogs…
Mid-Atlantic, walking commute, in office 3-4 days a week, office is nicer business casual. I’m between apartments right now (staying with family from July – October) so I don’t have all of my summer clothes unpacked, but this is what I have access to currently:
– 3 pairs of pants (black normal cut but athletic-ish material, black wide leg in twill*, skinny white/black plaid)
– 4 tops (blue sleeveless blouse, cream sleeveless blouse, black patterned sleeveless blouse*, gray mock neck sleeveless shirt*)
– 4 dresses (black with white short sleeve, cream short sleeve, black and white sleveless, blue floral sleeveless)
– 2 toppers (1 plain black blazer almost never worn, 1 textured gray longer sweater blazer. Both live in my office and get thrown on when I’m cold)
– shoes: black heeled sandals*, tan heeled sandals*, tan flat sandals, black rothys, black horse bit mules*
As for summer clothes that are packed up, I don’t know exactly what I have off the top of my head but I think it’s 2-3 more dresses and 2-3 more blouses and 1 pair of plaid gray pants.
Many of these items are worn for work year round. The exceptions are the sandals (of course), the blue dress and the black blouse. I have 3 more pairs of pants I wear in the winter (2 regular black work pants, 1 pair of boot cut burgundy pants*), 3 long sleeve blouses, and 4 winter dresses, plus several sweaters*. For winter shoes, I also wear my black heeled Chelsea boots* and just purchased a pair of loafers*.
I don’t accessorize much, as I wear the same jewelry literally every day: basic CZ solitaire necklace, small gold hoop earrings in bottom hole and small fake-diamond studs in second hole, Garmin watch and a small, basic chain bracelet.
All * items are also worn regularly in my normal non-work life.
work bags: 1
outerwear (coats, jackets): 1
i bought my outfits from http://www.bleszd.co.uk and http://www.zara.com
Skirts 5; a Dress; Blouses 6; structured tops that stand in for jackets 2; Sweaters 8;
Jackets 3; a skirted suit (have not worn since pandemic started); 2 pairs shoes; trench; raincoat; winter coats: light, 2 medium, 2 heavy; 12 old navy tanks used as camisoles; a work bag; a small duffle for workout clothes and shoes.
In the market for a formal winter coat; flats; nice fall boots; nice winter boots; several more work bags; luggage for a 2-3 day trip; socks; tights
Moved from DC to Chicago during pandemic. Work will take me to NYC and Charlotte for short trips, starting February 2023.
1 pr jeans
1 pr stone-colored cotton slacks
1 pr black wool slacks
1 denim skirt
2 dresses (summery)
lots of different seasonal tops (long sleeved, short sleeved, linen, cotton, silk)
lots of sweaters (mostly cashmere)
So, separates. Layers.
uuhhh… well, here I thought I was working toward a minimal wardrobe! i don’t work for Big Law, but love the site and have visited often for a long time.
my office is business casual, but I skew more formal because i feel more professional, i also do a lot of field work on construction sites, so jeans are typical there.
blouses: maybe 15, all machine washable. some are knit, some woven fabic, i also have about 10 layering undershirts that are typically not seen, but keep me warm.
pants: 12, ranges from a pair of dressy trousers to several jeans
blazers:2-3, 1 suit somewhere in there, but i haven’t worn it in at least 10 years.
dresses:5? includes at least one little black cocktail dress that doesn’t fit, but is only worn every 2 years…maybe
sweaters: 12, ranges from fleece for actual warmth to open layering cardigans
heels:2. one not worn in 2 years.
flats: lots.. from black flats to office athleisure to site visit boots
work bags:1, large, black, leather 4 years old
belts: 15 or so, some of these are 20 years old.
outerwear (coats, jackets): a raincoat or two and some fleece. when it gets cold here (below 35deg F) i just wear them all together. and tights under my pants.
other work accessories (please describe briefly):i wear a ton of jewelry, and scarves in the winter. i have an epic costume jewelry collection and 10 scarves that range from a little kerchief to some 6ft long massive gauzy thing.