What to wear for Work – the do’s and don’ts (Part 1)

Women are making strides in the workplace, yet selecting what to wear to meetings, business dinners or just to the office remains a challenge in itself. Designers, fashion stylists and other experts say women make an array of mistakes, from dressing too casually to not paying attention to the fit. Truth be told most probably working women won’t be making it onto any best-dressed lists anytime soon. Clothing is an overlooked component in many women’s professional life. In a world where first impressions count for everything and “people are sizing you up and down,” appearance and clothing are “so important.”

When it comes to dressing for work, there’s no such thing as one size fits all. Remember to dress for the company that is paying your salary, avoiding clothes that clash with your corporate culture. Be sure to pick up cues from your office culture. Women should convey professionalism, what we wear needs to scream that we can be trusted by clients. When they look at you they have to see that you are intelligent.

Above all, remember that what flies in one office might not work so well in another. Don’t be afraid to modify your clothing to fit the culture. When shopping for the office, most women head straight for the same designer or store. While it’s easy to stick with what has worked before, this is the quickest way to look dated. Instead, vary your designers and shop at different stores to create looks that are fresh. And of course, pattern tights, scarves and earrings can work in dozens of combinations to liven up a neutral suit. Finally, don’t forget that a work wardrobe begins with great basics. Most crucial: one great suit and shirts in your most complimentary colors. Every woman should also own a jacket; gray flannel, brown and black pants; and brown and black boots and pumps.

Something one should be careful to avoid are clothes that are too tight or too skimpy. If your clothing is overly revealing, you may have difficulty getting attention for your ideas. Having said that baggy clothing that’s two sizes too big can be just as detrimental. If your clothing is shapeless, you’ll end up looking sloppy. When choosing work outfits, stick to items with a contemporary cut and avoid anything that is ill-fitting or too large. Wearing something that fits you well will give you that extra boost of confidence.

Unless you work in fashion, wearing the latest trends to work will be difficult to pull it off, as wearing overly trendy clothing can overshadow your work accomplishments. You don’t want to walk in wearing a purple fluorescent suit, even if it’s beautiful not really suited for the office, opt instead be a diva in the evenings.

While it’s important to avoid looking too trendy, this shouldn’t translate into wearing dowdy clothes. Women tend not to give themselves the freedom to express their own personal style. Women shouldn’t be afraid to take a risk now and then with color, prints and fabrics. We are a woman, we don’t have to dress like a man. Adding pops of color like tangerine and yellow to update outfits for spring without overdoing it will do the trick.

Many companies these day carry a dress code which is a little bit more relaxed. Business casual is now the norm in many a workplaces every day of the week. Sight problem however is that many people have no idea what this means. Don’t interpret business casual as dressing for a Saturday afternoon. Limit jeans to Fridays (maybe) and make sure they’re neatly pressed. As for the rest of the week, if business casual means skipping the suit in favor of slacks and a blouse or sweater it’s all good, just remember that you never know when a meeting with a client will pop up or when you’ll have to drop by an unscheduled evening event with colleagues.

<Getting dressed for the office doesn’t mean leaving your personal style behind. Find out which looks give you a polished, professional look and which fashion trend can be a career killer – so please avoid that one. Your goal to getting dressed for work is to project a professional, competent image, regardless of your employment level or career path. The styles, colors, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will speak volumes about your ability to do your job. If you are concerned about your career, you’ll be more concerned with looking professional than looking cute or trendy. In general, the more distracting a piece of clothing or jewelry is, the less appropriate it is for office wear.

I have taken the liberty to outline some guidelines to looking polished:

• Color plays a big part in professional image. Traditional career colors include red (aggressive), navy (trustworthy), gray (conservative) and black (chic). Most of these colors work well in pantsuits, skirts and shoes and mix back with softer feminine colors that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory. Loud colors like hot pink and wild prints are much riskier in the office, but some creative types can still pull them off.

• Jewelry that jangles (chandelier earrings, stacks of bangles) is distracting. Opt for stud earrings or single bracelets.

• Slouchy handbags look sloppy. Choose structured styles that project an organized image.

• Most of what constitutes a polished image is in the details: Manicured nails, run-free hose, scuff-free shoes, neat hair.

• Fit is everything when you are talking about tailored work clothes. Pants should be fitted, but free of visible panty lines. Skirts, especially straight styles like pencil skirts, should be loose enough to sit down in comfortably. Jackets should be able to be buttoned. And blouses shouldn’t gap between buttonholes.

• Designer labels are great, but heavily logoed clothing and accessories look cluttered and frivolous in the work place. A small designer bag is fine; a logo trench coat looks ridiculous. Choose well-made items that are free from obvious designer labels for the most professional look.

Until next time,

Disclaimer : Comments on this blog are my personal opinion and not intended towards anybody in particular.

Categories: Fashion

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