How to Build a Work Wardrobe at… Brooks Brothers

Welcome to today’s installment in our ongoing series, How to Build a Work Wardrobe At ___, based around the idea that if you’re ordering from a new-to-you store online, it’s great to be able to consider all the bestsellers/classics/hits at once. Today, we’re looking at how to build a work wardrobe at Brooks Brothers — you can also check out how to build a work wardrobe at Lands’ EndTalbots, and Boden (and eventually view the entire series on how to build a work wardrobe).women's classics to buy at brooks brothers

Brooks Brothers is a bastion of classic, sophisticated dressing, with a bit of a New England, WASPy, academic, preppy vibe, and if you’re looking for a place to get started with workwear, this is a great option if your budget allows. Particularly if you’ve been struggling with trying to dress appropriately and conservatively enough for work, Brooks Brothers is an excellent place to get familiar with — it can be fun in that preppy sort of way, but it’s all appropriate for the office.

We’ll go through a few of Brooks Brothers’ classic pieces below, but you should know that in general they have great clearance sales, and their much more affordable line, Red Fleece, is designed for younger women and is a little more playful and fun in terms of their twinsets, suits, dresses, and more. Another thing to note at the outset is that their accessories section has great brooches, necklaces, and a lot of other good accessories like simple, chic pumps, and handbags (especially check these during BB’s excellent clearance sales).

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We’ve previously mentioned Brooks Brothers’ non-iron dress shirts, which have a great, classic look. They offer fitted, classic-fit, and tailored-fit versions in regular and petite sizes, and you can often find them on sale for 2 for $99, or 4 for $200. They’re machine washable, too. You should definitely consider these if you’re looking for dress shirts that are easy to care for. Non-Iron Dress Shirts
As you might expect with a place like Brooks Brothers, they have a nice selection of classic twinsets — it’s a key place to go, whether you want to wear the pieces separately or together. You can choose merino, cashmere, silk-cashmere blend, or cotton — and keep in mind that every season brings new colors, including interesting jacquard patterns and other cool things to freshen up your work wardrobe, all with that Brooks Brothers quality, of course.
This shawl collar sweater, which Brooks Brothers has been making for years, comes in a bunch of colors. It makes a great bottom layer underneath a suit, and it has a flattering V-neck that won’t make you worry about revealing any cleavage. The sweater is $148 full price, but keep an eye out — it often goes on sale for $88, as it is right now in a bunch of colors and sizes. Shawl Collar Sweaters
The cashmere ruana is priced as high as $3,000–$4,000 for some versions, but you can sometimes — for example, right now — find it on sale for $299 or lower. (The wool ruana from Red Fleece is on sale for $136.) It’s a great basic to keep in your office if you need another layer on top of a blazer (see our post on nine ways to use an office wrap). I finally got one after recommending them for years, and will note that that it’s more of a jacket than a wrap in that it has a definite collar. I wear mine all the time, even with more casual outfits. Cashmere Ruana
Obviously, Brooks Brothers is known for its suits, and their offerings include timeless classics and “new” classics (as well as some more “fun” options now that Zac Posen is their creative director). If you’re looking for an easy, basic, high-quality suit, do check them out, because they deliver time and time again, particularly with sheath dresses and other pieces with nice details, like work-appropriate hemlines, and sleeves. I definitely recommend Brooks Brothers’ suiting.

Readers, are you devotees of Brooks Brothers, Red Fleece, or some of their other lines (like their belated Black Fleece line with Thom Browne?) What’s your favorite thing that you’ve bought there — and do you have any great sale stories to regale us with?

Brooks Brothers is a classic spot for workwear -- and there are some GREAT things even young professional women can get. We rounded up our favorites to help you build your work wardrobe at Brooks Brothers....


  1. Brooks Brothers is killing me with their horrible webs!te. Hard to browse, slow to load, and the pictures in the sale section are so small you can barely even tell a shirt from a sweater. The $250 minimum for free shipping is laughable. If you want to return an online order to the store, they act like something is wrong with you, how dare you not like whatever it is in person?!

    I like a lot of their clothes (though the Zac Posen collaboration is … poorly judged IMHO) but since I shop online almost exclusively, they’ve lost a lot of my business.

    • Anonymous :

      I rarely order from them because of this. Only if I absolutely love something, and even then half the time it ends up not being what I expected and I have to return it.

  2. Brushing up on my Spanish :

    We will be traveling to a spanish speaking country in March. I was fluent in spanish in my early 20s and can still understand the gist of what is being said. My speaking ability, however, is pretty subpar at this point. Is there an app, a podcast, or a CD rom system that is best for getting me up to speak in 2 months? I have a 40 minute commute each way about three times a week and plan on using that time to learn. Any suggestions for the best way of doing so? Thanks in advance.

    • Anonymous :

      Duolingo is decent. If you find you’re more advanced than what Duolingo allows, you could listen to a podcast like Radio Ambulante (which is great btw) and try to repeat what they say, or summarize in your own words in Spanish. Practice is really the only thing that improves speaking proficiency IME.

  3. Senior Attorney :

    Speaking of Brooks Brothers, I have a stupid question. Somebody gave me a bracelet from there and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to open the clasp. Clasp is like this and I CAN’T GET IT OPEN!

    Does anybody have a similar bracelet and can you tell me the secret?


    OMG I am so lame

    • Senior Attorney :

      Like this:,default,pd.html

    • not lame! the middle part has a hidden hinge that you can pop open. having said that, that style is a bii8tch to get on by yourself. the upside is that it will stay on and you will never lose it!

    • Does the part holding the two sides together pull apart from one of the short sides (it is probably very tight if so)?

      • Senior Attorney :

        Yeah I feel like the part in the middle should open up somehow and I just can’t make it happen. Maybe it’s just very tight…

        • I would guess it is the type called “Snap Lock [aka Fold-Over] Clasps” here:

    • Senior Attorney :

      Ha! Figured it out! You lift up one side of the middle part and it opens! I was messing around this morning and for some reason it suddenly made sense!

      Thanks for all the help, ladies!

  4. Never too many shoes... :

    Is there any kind of tiny seam on the small middle part which might give you a clue as to how to flip it up (which is how I would think it opens)?

  5. Anonymous :

    I really love that shawl sweater, thanks for linking to it.

  6. I have to say that some of the Zac Posen suiting at BB has been downright terrible. Like, undergrad fashion-school graduation-project terrible.

    I like BB a lot, but fit is an issue. For perspective, I’m 5’4 and a size 2/4 in Banana Republic, and typically I have to wear petites in BB and size way down. It can be very, very boxy.

    I love the shoes/bags/accessories, and the sales are great.

  7. What I do when I go to BB is to get the same outfit in 2 different colors; that way, I can mix and match with the clotheing I buy there and at Lord and Taylor! YAY!!!!

  8. Anonymous :

    A couple of notes: RueLaLa has some BrooksBrothers “events” where you can take advantage of their shipping policy instead. I haven’t seen the BB suiting at RLL, but have bought separates. I’m a long waisted pear, and love the BB skirt suits, but only some pant cuts.

  9. StitchFix is another option, for those who don’t actually enjoy shopping.

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