Welcome to How To Dress For Work, a series where I’ll be giving you tips and trends for the modern businesswoman. As an executive at some of the world’s top fashion companies, I’ve seen trends come and go, and I love nothing more than sharing my knowledge with everyone who wants it.
In this first part of the series, we’re going to talk about what each type of workwear looks like, how to incorporate them into your professional wardrobe and suggest some places that you can go to buy them if you need a helping hand.
List of what to wear to work today
You’ve got a lot on your plate at work. How can you make sure to look professional without spending too much time or money? Here are some tips and trends to help you dress for work.
- Recent office fashions tend toward being more relaxed. This has been especially true since the development of such innovation as the business casual Friday and the very recent move toward fully unstructured offices. Taking advantage of these new styles will help you be both comfortable and fashionable while at work, while also facilitating your ability to keep things loose, thus freeing up your mind to think about more important things than whether or not your tie matches your shoes.
- Make note of which colors go best with your complexion and style, then dress in a way that complements that palette every day at work. If you wear pink every single day, for example, it’ll quickly become clear that this is what you always wear. Choosing different colors on occasion will keep people from becoming too used to seeing you dressed in one specific way each day—and wearing a variety of clothes each day will make all of them feel fresher!
Forgo the suit. Look for dresses and separates that have structure and tailoring — or show off your curves and body with a fitted dress.
What’s all the fuss about suits, anyway?
It sounds a bit old-fashioned, but today businesswomen are expected to look like a professional women. And no one knows that better than men, who seem to have this innate and ingrained need to hit on women in business attire. So what’s the point of wearing a suit?
Well, it doesn’t take long for you to become invisible when you wear your favorite pair of jeans and your favorite shirt with some flats or heels. No one will miss your presence even if you’re standing next to an executive for a meeting; it’s just not “part of the deal” anymore. But when you wear a suit, people will see you immediately — and they’ll also see that you have impeccable taste in clothes and accessories. Sure, there are elements of masculinity in suits (the tailored jacket), but there’s also feminine elegance (the silky blouse with just the right buttons). There are expensive brands out there that offer luxurious materials and fabrics at very reasonable prices. Nowadays there is such a wide range of choices — many fashion designers still design classic ensembles that show off your curves while maintaining structure and tailoring on top — so how do you know which ones to choose?
Play with patterns. No matter what your personal style is, there are patterns that work for you. Animal prints are work-appropriate in the right doses, floral dresses can be chic, and metallic sequins can add intrigue to any look.
- Metallic sequins
- Floral dresses
- Animal prints
- What not to wear to work
Workplace style is evolving, but by following a few key rules you can always look professional and put together.
The workplace is changing, and a great deal of those changes have to do with the way that women are treated in professional settings. Although the trend towards better paying jobs for women has been going on for some time now, we’re still not where we need to be in terms of equal pay and treatment.
What does that mean for you? It means that it’s more important than ever to be aware of your appearance at work. How you dress says a lot about what kind of person you are, even if you’re not being paid as much as your male coworkers. Luckily, there are easy ways to dress professionally while also showing off your personal style.
As long as it’s appropriate for the type of business in which you work, there’s no reason why you can’t look fabulous while also maintaining an air of professionalism!
List of What To Wear For Work
- Dress for the job you want to get. If you’re determined to work in a men’s field, don’t wear a dress and heels to interview with a women’s business and vice versa. Instead try dressing more like how you see your ideal female co-worker: dressed in business attire, with body language and makeup reflecting professionalism, but not so much that you look like you’re trying too hard.
- Be careful of stereotypes. People tend to think one way about certain genders or ethnicities, so if there are underlying prejudices against your group, conforming to those stereotypes may actually hurt your chances at employment. Keep that in mind when picking what items to wear for work: stick with neutral colors as often is possible (unless it’s for an active role that requires a different color), steer clear of trendy styles popularized by celebrities or hip trends from previous decades (which have become trendy again), and avoid wearing outfits that might make you stand out as the “hot girl” or “ethnic minority.”
- Don’t dress too conservatively. There is no rule book dictating what looks good on everyone; however, women can often be perceived as boring or unsophisticated if they overdress at work—although it’s important not to do this either! Apply this saying as guidance: “If it feels uncomfortable around your neck, it probably is.”
- Women typically pick up on other people’s cues before they even know what they mean themselves; however, we still need to be aware of our own preferences and body language so we don’t subconsciously give off the wrong impression based on those cues from others. For example, women who wear fake nails should consider whether their nail polish matches the rest of their outfit; white shoes should be matched with other white clothes; black suit jackets should match dark pants/skirts even when paired together; black blazers should always be worn with dark pants/skirts regardless of jacket color etc..
You’ve learned how to dress for work and how to find a professional style that’s unique to you. This is the final step: now that you know how best to build your business wardrobe, it’s time to put all of your newfound knowledge into practice. Everything we’ve discussed here can seem overwhelming, but don’t fret—you’ll be done before you know it.
To start, grab your calendar and mark out two hours on Sunday afternoon for some dedicated closet cleaning. Start with spring cleaning in July and make this your new routine. You may have heard that spring cleaning is when you get rid of old things and make room for new things, but that’s not exactly what this is—this is more like a refresh: refresh the clothes you already own so they’re ready and waiting when the weather gets warmer or if an occasion arises where they’d come in handy.
This process will take some time if you have a lot of clothes (I certainly do), but try to do it as efficiently as possible: set aside 2 hours, organize everything by type (pants, shirts, suits/blazers), toss anything too worn-out or ripped up beyond repair (even if it was expensive initially), wash everything else immediately so it can dry for 24–48 hours before being folded back up (this will prevent wrinkles from setting in). Most cheap materials won’t wrinkle much anyway since they were made specifically to resist wrinkles. Toss any duplicates or anything from three years ago—you won’t miss them! Now that everything has been sorted and washed, return each item to its proper place in your closet—now with more space!
Now comes the fun part: shopping! Take your budget and divide it by 4; once a quarter, spend about one fourth of what you would normally spend on clothes on clothes instead of going out to eat or catching another movie at home. Now apply this money directly toward building up your wardrobe with classic pieces that are versatile enough.