I'm not sure who these wardrobe books are written for, but I would guess ... frumpy lawyers? That's not a knock to lawyers at all; all the women lawyers I've ever known fierce and definitely not frumpy. What I'm saying, less than eloquently, is that some of these books might have you looking boring and conservative.
As a thirtysomething wardrobe builder, you deserve a better resource - a resource that factors in the delicate tightrope we walk between youth and authority. So I made up a cheat sheet, see below.
The best way to build a wardrobe is to invest in wardrobe "classics" - timeless pieces that are sophisticated, but are light on decorations and embellishments. Use these items on the cheat sheet as a conceptual guide for building the "bones" of your wardrobe. Again, this is conceptual - use it as a guide, but feel free to customize the details as they suit you.
For tops, you want several blouses of varying sleeve lengths. Sleeveless blouses are a must because they can be more easily layered under sweaters and jackets. Also, you want to have a few good-quality t-shirts (splurge here, don't skimp).
To wear over blouses and t-shirts, you want a mix of jackets and cardigans - mostly lightweight, if possible.
For bottoms, you need a few skirts in different styles, trousers (denim if you're casual) and a pair of crop pants. Crops (which are hemmed right above the ankle, not in the middle of the calf) are good for showing off statement shoes or wearing with flats.
That's it, those are the new wardrobe classics. You can add trendy items as they come into style, but if you keep your classics in your wardrobe forever and take care of them, you will always look stylish.
Nicole Longstreath is a wardrobe coach in Orange County, CA and author of Reclaiming Your Wardrobe, an ebook dedicated to building a smarter wardrobe, avoiding bad purchases and uncovering your unique style. She also publishes a weekly outfit inspiration collage, exclusively for readers of Collages & Commentary.
The Wardrobe Coach.com