Transition Your Wardrobe from Work to Wow in 3 Simple Steps

By: The Art Institute of Phoenix Filed under: Fashion

July 13, 2017

Blog post written by Ashley LaRae Sampson, Style Expert and The Art Institute of Phoenix Director of Community Relations

(Article originally appeared on

From Work to Wow

If you're anything like I am, your schedule can be filled in by the minute and you're not always wearing the appropriate attire for work (or school) that you'd wear to your events or meetings after.

With this being said, I've become a total pro at transitioning my wardrobe two or three times a day in order to match the different occasions. For example, I may have to be at an event with the local city chambers, the mayor and high level businesspersons in the morning, be in my office that afternoon, and then to a creative organization's event, party or meeting later that evening. Those outfits don't necessarily coincide with one another, so I've learned some helpful tips for an easy transition that I'll share with you.

Here are my top 3 tips for transitioning your wardrobe from morning to day to evening:

1) Accessorize

2) Add the Final Touches

3) Prepare

First, accessories are one of the most important style enhancers, in my opinion. We have the opportunity to turn a very basic and uninteresting outfit into something eye-catching and stylishly impressive with just a few additions. Let's say you're wearing a pencil skirt and blouse to a morning meeting and have to attend a fancier event later that evening. Layering a couple necklaces over your business attire, adding a few more bracelets and putting on some rings will automatically help you look like you put in the extra effort. You don't have to spend lots of money in this area, some of my favorite accessories come from Burlington or H&M for low prices but a ton of style, and I'm consistently being complimented on my inexpensive picks. This also helps ease the pain when you break or lose your accessories...If they didn't cost much, you're not so sad when they're gone and you have a great reason to find new replacements.

Personally, packing on the accessories totally excites me. If I could have bangles up and down my arm, a hundred earrings in my ears, tons of necklaces, rings, and even anklets and belly chains (wow, total 90's throwback), trust me I would. Unfortunately, while I have a deeply creative side that loves the bling, my professional counterparts would definitely not take me seriously, so I've learned a great balance of "individual extras" and business-appropriate simplicity.

Next, consider the final touches. These are in addition to accessories and include calculated frills such as a blazer, shawl, vest, heels, belt, and so forth. Here, you'll consider the specific type of occasion you're transitioning into and add on appropriately. For instance, a blazer has the ability to add a stylish look of professionalism to even something so "plain" as a t-shirt and jeans combo. Add a pair of heels and you've already upped your ante, consider those accessories mentioned above, and now you're a style superstar who can "even make a t-shirt look great."

The final touches also include hair and makeup. Swapping out your lip gloss for a pop of rich, bright lipstick, darkening your eyeliner and letting your hair out can automatically add a dramatic difference in an impressively simple way. If you want to take it a step further, keep some nail polish nearby and keep your nails colored (but of course, that takes some extra time and runs the risk of disaster without a quick dry topcoat).

Lastly,none of this will come together easily without proper preparation. You'll have to set aside some extra time the night before or earlier that morning to gather everything together and make sure you pack it into your car, but this can be a lifesaver later when you don't have time to go home and change into the bombshell you.

My schedule is so randomly conflicting in terms of the types of meeting or events I'll have on my calendar throughout the day that I rarely have a clue of what's happening tomorrow, and I make it a point to study my phone's calendar each night so I can be prepared. This is when I plan what I'll need the next day so I don't leave the house unprepared, and I'll attempt to find something that transitions easiest (such as a jumper or pants/shirt combo that can be dressed up or down without me having to change my entire outfit). As I mentioned, sometimes I'll have three totally stylishly-inconsistent occasions I must dress for in one day, and I may need to consider bringing a different outfit with me for one of them.

And obviously this goes the other way around, as well. You can just as easily take away your fancy additions to tone down your style if you're transitioning to a more businesslike environment. If you need to swap from heels to flats or sneakers, take away your blazer, and unravel some of your amazing accessories, it's just as easy.

From one professional, productive woman to another, I leave you with this quote from Shay Mitchell (actress, model, entrepreneur and author...aka another successful, busy woman who likely relates to our wardrobe dilemmas), "I'd define my everyday style as 'put together, but also comfortable.' A great pair of jeans and a cute top can be so versatile." See, I'm not the only one who thinks we can have the best of both worlds!

About the Author:

Ashley LaRae Sampson

Ashley LaRae Sampson began her professional career as a Fashion Stylist/Image Consultant for superstars such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Keyshia Cole and The Dream  as well as photo shoots, independent films, commercials, music videos, local magazines, fashion-related books and personal styling for athletes and professional businesspersons. After transitioning into creative branding and consulting with her company, StylePHX, she now offers her motivational expertise and experiences to help others through speaking engagements, writing, seminars and workshops while continuing to pull together her vast experience in client relations & marketing as the Director of Community Relations for The Art Institute of Phoenix. Ashley dedicates her free time to arts and community empowerment as a Youth Mentor with New Pathways for Youth and sits on the Board of Directors for AIGA-AZ as Communications Director and Valley Young Professionals.

Ashley is a proud alumnus of Arizona State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Minor in Communication Studies before attending Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles for a Professional Designation in Visual Communication.

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By: The Art Institute of Phoenix Filed under: Fashion

July 13, 2017