Let’s take it up a notch.

When I first started riding the metro, there was always this giddy excitement in me riding a form of public transportation into a bigger city than I came from. These days, I commute into the city at least every day– and although the feeling of newness has died down a bit, there are still some butterflies that float around– because going into DC always shows me something new.

Lately, however, this newness has been brought to a stop.

I’ve realized, like Neo in the Matrix, that I’m stuck in a sea of grey, black two-piece suits.

This mass of drab professional dressing is in part a result of intern season– which occurs all summer throughout the city. But DC has always been known for its ever-increasing population of young professionals.

I’m a firm believer in dressing for the job you want, rather than the one you have; however, there are ways to amp up your professional attire from the suits that everyone seems to be stuck in. Every office has some type of dress code. It’s in your best interest not to stray too far. But incorporating slightly individual items can help maintain that you are a career woman apart from your boring collection of suits.

I’m not telling you to throw out that suit– because frankly, everyone needs the perfect one to really bring the professional vibe to the office. In DC, owning and wearing a suit is a big part of the deal you make when you accept employment. But don’t let your shopping list end at “power suit.” That’s not a job well done in the professional wardrobe department.

There are five pieces that every young woman needs to ensure her working wardrobe doesn’t get stuck in the doldrums of her career dressings.

Am I going to share with you? of course.

Five Items Your Wardrobe Will Die of Boredom Without:

One: Statement necklace.

It’s easy to don a simple gold necklace that you have grown to continuously worn every day. Although, I have had a habit of doing it for some time now, its the age of statement jewelry. Stepping up your black blazer with a bold, turquoise necklace like this one from Bauble Bar ($42) can make you feel like a break through individual. It’s stylish, and keeps your look dressed-up.

Feeling like the “big giant necklace” may not be office appropriate for you? Try something more subtle (Bauble Bar, $32)-layers of pearls can say “professional” without saying “of the moment” too much. Subtle-but with a twist-is a look that can accommodate the delicate nature of your dress code, but gives you more than that simple strand you wore at graduation.

Two: A go-to button-up silk blouse.

These tops may be a pain to clean (Tip: Dryel works wonders as an in home dry-cleaner), but they give you a tomboy chic look that the white button up under your suit doesn’t give. This fuchsia silk top from Madewell ($118) keeps you looking professional, but also provides an instant pop of color (There is absolutely nothing wrong with color in the workplace– as long as you balance it with other pieces to maintain the professional look).

Three: Great flats.

Killer black pumps killing your feet? A third piece to truly save your feet are a great pair of flats, but don’t move into your trusty black ones. Soft colors such as a gold, or pink can fit accordingly in your dress code, although power colors such as a plum or red can give you an even bigger notch above the rest. J.Crew has great leather ballet flats ($125) in a array of colors to suit your needs and stick with the traditional look that we all go back to.

Four: A dress that fits you to a tee.

A classic fitting dress in a print or color is essential to your wardrobe. Why? Because everyone loves a dress. I believe they are one of the easiest pieces to put on in the morning; besides your favorite pair of jeans.

Sticking to a classic shift or A-line cut dress does wonders for your figure, but also stays with the conventional office attire. This floral dress from Zara ($59.99) has the A-Line cut and a fun floral print that can easily be worn in a professional atmosphere with a black cardigan or blue blazer-but take heed that this dress isn’t take-to-the-client worthy. It’s for off days. For those meetings with your superior’s superiors, keep it more neutral with something like this black shift.

Five: The perfect work bag.

Last, but certainly not least: invest in a bag or carryall that fits all of your needs. Guiltily, I have a habit of carrying much of the contents of my apartment with me in my purse. People surrounding me also haven’t hesitated to notice that my bag is also very Mary Poppins-esque. But I know I’m not the only one.

Leaving your trusty tote behind may take some time, but upgrading to a different color or shape can do wonders for your look. Investing in a great fun-colored Kate Spade tote ($258) or keeping it more affordable with this cobalt-colored woven tote ($89) from Urban Outfitters can keep you far away from those briefcase blues.

All of these pieces can be found at the places mentioned above. But what’s great about all of them is that they can be discovered at just about every store at every price range. From Madewell to T.J. Maxx, scouring the worldwibe web (or if they’re nearby, the worldwide world) for these items won’t be a challenge. With a good eye and an idea of what you’re looking for, you can find high quality stylish pieces without breaking your budding career budget.

You almost certainly already have the basics: tailored blazer, slacks, and skirts, but the rest of these pieces make your “office look” polished, powerful, strong– and most importantly, they make your look you.


Sabel Harris is a recent graduate of at George Mason University with a degree in history. The passion hasn’t stopped with fashion (rhyme, intended), which stemmed from her internship with CollegeFashionista as a style guru and an editorial intern, formerly acting as editor-in-chief for Her Campus George Mason and contributing as a style advisor for Dormify; however, the fire of social media is fueling her interests even more. Even though she is a busy-bee (check out her USA TODAY Educate pieces), feel free to contact her atsabel.harris21@gmail.com or by sending her sweet tweets.