Work wardrobes can be tricky. You don't want to be stuffy, but you still want to be professional. You want to keep it fun, but you want to be taken seriously. The wardrobe you wear to work can send so many messages. I think young professionals struggle the most with wanting to bring their own identity to the workplace, but remain appropriate at the same time. When looking to revamp your wardrobe you want to take into account the following:
Your workplace environment: A.M. is a creative director, so I assume that she gets a "funky" card. Meaning that some things may be more appropriate for her office as opposed to a more traditional office, such as an attorney's place of business. It's probably okay for her to add in bright colors, open toe shoes, funky jewelry, etc. A lawyers office maybe more stringent on the dress code where suits are required, no sleeveless tops, and loud clothing may be frowned upon.
The position you hold: I come from the school of thought where I will dress for the job I want instead of the job I hold, but for some this may not be realistic point of view. Think about the functions of your wardrobe. A.M. states that she "runs around." This indicates that she needs shoes that are professional and comfortable. I would suggest wedges, flats and kitten heels. She may not want to have clothes that are restricting just so she can move around easily. Flare skirts for easy walking, blazers and pencil skirts with a little bit of stretch for easy arm and leg movement.
Your budget: It's good to know you budget upfront, so you can devise a plan of how to shop. Think about investing in your staples (pencil skirts, black pants, etc). You are going to wear them often. Don't count out thrift stores, which are a great place to find blazers.
So how do you still keep it professional, but fun? It's all in the accessories. They can really speak volumes about your personality. Jewelry, handbags, and shoes should always reflect your personality. Wardrobes are based upon staple items, but you accessories is really where you can put in your own flare. Also, pay attention to the details in the items you choose. Below these items have ruffles, studs, etc. It's small details like these that will reflect who you are and the things that you like.
Also, A.M. just got a new promotion, but that doesn't mean she has to toss her old clothes. She can work within the items that she already owns to make new looks. She said that she wears blazers and nice shirts. Well she can easily pair those with slacks, a pencil skirt, or a flare skirt to give herself a more professional and polished look.
Items not appropriate for most work environment: Super high platform shoes (these are for the nightlife), sheer tops without a camisole underneath, mini skirts, shorts, capris (those always keep an office debate going), and flip flops. I may have missed a few things, but you catch my drift.
Other tidbits: Fashionable shoes that don't hold a 4 inch heel are hard to find, so you have to be on the constant lookout. I don't own a lot of shoes, but I'm constantly searching the internet for anything that is stellar in a low heel. Some fierce low heels can be found at Zara, but beware their shoes are made for the narrow foot. Also, search through sites by heel height. It will allow you to search entire sites quicker. If you have a tight budget, don't fret. Stay on top of your sales and clearance sections. I would check once a week. I'm all about getting a $150 skirt for $50. It will mean that I am getting the quality without the price tag. Don't expect to build an entire wardrobe in a week. This is how you end up with crap you will never wear. Instead really ask yourself, " Do I love this?" If you don't love it, leave it. Gage you body type when getting ready for work. You know where your lady lumps lie. I know my booty is big. I wouldn't wear tight pencil skirts to work and most of the time I would always pair with a cardigan or blazer. To my busty girls, if you look like you could feed a small village when you look in the mirror, you probably shouldn't wear it to work. (To some this may be obvious, but I've seen it all.)