Building a work wardrobe from scratch can be challenging. Beyond the initial expense, there's also knowing which pieces to buy, making sure they fit right and keeping them clean without breaking the bank.
So where to start? One crucial garment that wardrobes of both sexes can benefit from is a "great white shirt," says Simon Kneen, creative director at Banana Republic, the clothier known for its stylish contributions to casual work wardrobes.
"You can't go wrong," says Kneen, adding that a well-tailored white shirt is both "eternally classic" and "eternally beautiful" at the same time. It's also versatile. A well-made white shirt can be worn through the work week and on weekends when teamed with a pair of jeans, creating a casual yet elegant look.
When it comes to assembling the right pieces for a work wardrobe, many men struggle with finding the proper fit. Depending on body type, some clothing items "can look very baggy very quickly," he says, if men aren't careful in their selections.
Men typically confuse comfortable clothing with items that are "over-sized," Kneen says, noting that additional tailoring may be need to achieve just the right fit. Banana Republic offers in-store alterations for a nominal fee (free for Luxe Card members). An alternative is the local dry cleaner, which typically offers professional tailoring at a reasonable price.
"It's worth the extra time and money to get the right [fit]," Kneen says.
Women, meanwhile, often focus too much on trends, only to discover that once-stylish pieces have aged less gracefully. Kneen advises focusing on classic clothing when establishing a wardrobe, "and then you can punctuate the color with fashion trends as they come and go," he says. "But it shouldn't be the head-to-toe fashion-trend outfit."
So how much will it cost? Lots varies, of course, depending on where you shop, and whether your eye skews toward expensive designers. At Banana Republic, Kneen says, "You can stay under $1,000 for a very versatile wardrobe that will serve you well for over a year."
With the help of Mint.com, Banana Republic offers these additional tips for establishing a workplace wardrobe:
Stories from CNNMoney