The Ultimate Closet Checklist for the Modern African Corporate Queen

May 22, 2022

If you don’t have these 13 staples in your closet, you’re not the modern corporate queen you think you are. Follow these tips, curated especially for our tropical weather, to perfect the minimalist smart-casual look.

Low-heeled mules/sandals

Say bye-bye to those plain stuffy court shoes with the ridiculous heels that hurt our ankles after a long day. These low-heeled, no-stress mules or sandals are in. And they come in as many styles and colours as you want.

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Classic ballet flats

You probably remember these from secondary school. Only the cool girls whose parents actually put out wardrobe allowance for them owned these. Now, as a working-class gal, you can finally buy them for yourself. They are still as cool, classy, and most importantly, comfortable as ever.

Neutral-coloured oversized dress shirt

They are your regular office buttoned-down shirts but with a twist. Dress shirts are better tailored, made from finer fabric like silk, linen, or pure cotton, and have intricate details that set them apart from the regular. Get them slightly oversized and in natural tones — white, brown, faded blues and greens — and just like that, you’ve turned your plain old work outfit into a stylish number.

White cami top

A basic item that serves as a clean slate on which to build all your effortlessly elegant looks, this unbothered queen is a must-have. Wear it and then throw on that oversized dress shirt with a couple of buttons undone, or a simple sweater, blazer, light jacket… can you see what I’m saying?

Tailored cigarette pants

Cigarette pants are the sweet in-between where skinny pants and regular straight pants meet. In their expertly-tailored, just above the ankle-length form, they scream smart-casual like nothing else does.

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Midi A-line skirt

Once relegated to the teachers’ and headmistresses’ closets, the midi skirts have staged a protest. They’ve come back rebranded, and nothing says boujee like these new versions of the “Mary Amaka” skirts. You get extra marks if yours are asymmetrical or come with a nice side-slit.

Black sheath dress

This work-closet staple is an underrated versatile queen. It is simple and quiet, while it does the Lord’s work, sliming a working girl’s figure, emphasising her femininity and giving off “cultured” vibes. The sleeveless version can be paired with sleeved dress shirts to create a whole new outfit each time. Switch up your work shoes with a pair of going-out sandals, and you have a perfect dinner-date look. I said “versatile”, didn’t I?

Print shift dress

A shift dress in ankara, adire, kente, batik, or any other print fabric is the perfect item to add some colour (and spice) to this neutral-toned list. It is guaranteed to inject a fun vibe into your work life, even if you can only wear it on Fridays (tell HR we said office dress codes need to die a quick but painful death).

Neutral-coloured summer pantsuit

Pantsuits are generally hard to wear in this our climate, but sometimes, the occasion calls for a power suit and all your “boss lady” attitude. Summer pantsuits were invented particularly for hot weather, and you need to get some. They come in a lighter fabric and with less lining than the regular pantsuit. Some have shorter sleeves too.

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Small chunky gold hoops

No one knows who invented the golden hoops, but I’m sure it has African roots because they suit our ears and skin so well. They are a good standalone, but they go well with chunky single or double-layered chain-link necklaces too.

Tarnish-proof gold and stone jewellery set

The gold and clear stone necklace and earrings set is the perfect finishing touch to the polished minimalist work look we want to achieve. Just make sure you buy the set that won’t fade after some weeks.

50+ SPF sunscreen moisturiser

If you’re not applying sunscreen to your face every time you step out of your house, you’re wrong. Global warming is upon us, and not to get into the complicated science of it, the sun’s rays are not very safe for our skin. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, dark-skinned or light, sunscreen is a must. And for the bountiful gift of sunlight we enjoy in Africa, you’ll need one that’s 50 SPF or higher. The best sunscreens keep our faces smooth and dewy. Don’t you want that?

Moisturising lip balm

We can’t talk style staples without throwing in basic skincare. Whether you’re a makeup person or not, you should always have a good organic lip balm in your closet and everyday bag. Let’s keep our lips supple and hydrated, shall we?

READ ALSO: These Fashion Trends Have Now Come Full Circle and You Need to Update Your Wardrobe

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