Sarah LaFleur is the founder and CEO of MM.LaFleur, a clothing brand designed specifically for professional women. LaFleur, whose sold-out dresses have at times amassed a 1,600-person waitlist, has a great rule of thumb when it comes to shopping and purchasing clothes for work — and the rule can apply to both men and women in the office.
She calls it the 40/40/20 rule.
“Our 40/40/20 philosophy centres around the idea of building a balanced wardrobe,” LaFleur told Business Insider. “As a general rule of thumb, we think an ideal work wardrobe is made up of 40% everyday pieces, 40% elevated pieces, and 20% showstoppers.”
40% everyday pieces
According to LaFleur, 'everyday pieces' include your most comfortable clothes that are still appropriate for work. It's important that the clothes in this section of your wardrobe are machine-washable. For women, LaFleur suggests comfy cardigans, easy dresses, and simple pencil skirts.
40% elevated pieces
The second 40% is what LaFleur calls 'elevated pieces.' These outfits transition easily from night to day, and 'look a bit more sophisticated,' she said. LaFleur suggests that an outfit from this portion of your wardrobe be something you could wear on a full day of back-to-back meetings, followed by a client dinner.
'Showstoppers are those special pieces that make you feel unstoppable,' LaFleur said. 'They're perfect for big presentations, speaking gigs, or important events when you want to make an impression.'
'The 40/40/20 philosophy is a guideline, rather than a hard-and-fast rule,' she added. 'We developed it to help women achieve balance in their wardrobes so that they would always have the right mix of pieces to pull from in the morning -- without having to think too hard about it.'
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