Fashion Advice: Corporate Drab to Event Planning Fab

Event planner wearing black dress and statement necklace
Event planner wearing black dress with statement necklace

Dear Budget Fashionista,

For seven years I was in corporate America where I was required to have a conservative wardrobe. I now own an event planning company that services the entertainment industry.

How can I transition my “rigid” corporate wardrobe to something that fits both the new role and me without breaking the bank?

Career Changer

Hey Career Changer,

Congrats on breaking free from the chains of corporate America. It truly takes guts to go out on your own and we’re going to help you make the transition.

Hold on to the suits and pumps.

First, hold on to your black, blue, gray suits. You can even hold on to those “sensible” black pumps. Use these pieces as the foundation for your new wardrobe.

Invest in these key pieces.

Then, add following pieces to your update your wardrobe to your current position.

Two pairs of strappy heels

Go for one pair in black and one in some outrageous color, like hot pink.

Shoe jewelry

Buy shoe jewelry (like the old school shoe buckles like your grandma used to wear). You can find them at Nordstroms, Baker’s Shoes, or Absolutely Audrey.

You are going to put these on your old “sensible” shoes. As an event planner, you will be running around quite a bit and you still need to be comfortable.

Three slip tops

Your slip tops should include one sequined, one like a camisole, and another with a slight shimmer. These tops should fit very well and should be any color but black.

Jewelry and accessories

Buy as many bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other accessories as you can get your hands on. You will use these to accessorize your current outfits.

Two nice party dresses (not black) has hot dresses from designers like Nicole Miller and ABS Allen Schwartz for exceptionally reasonable prices.

Cashmere sweater set

A nice cashmere sweater set is classic and can go with everything. Score a sweater for well under $60 from stores like Macy’s or

As an event planner, you must be stylish, and nothing is more stylish than the color black. For evening events, take that black suit and pair it up with a colorful sequined top and a pair of strappy heels (head directly to DSW shoe warehouse for evening shoes from folks like Via Spiga at ridiculously low prices). Add a necklace or a brooch along with a pair of cute button earrings and — voila! — you have the perfect planner outfit.

For events during the day, wear either a pair of pants or a skirt from one of your non-black suits with your cashmere twin set. Simple pearl earrings and a pair of your sensible shoes (don’t forget the shoe jewelry) and you will be ready to go!

Now, go forth and plan!


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Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

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