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HOW TO: Dress well in your job

By Helen Venables, MD of House of Colour

Getting up in the morning is hard enough, let alone deciding what to wear to work in a fast-fashion, time-poor, eco-unfriendly society. 

Many of us struggle to find what to wear to work and spend crucial time each morning rummaging through our over-burgeoning wardrobe contemplating why a certain pair of trousers still doesn’t flatter, whilst feeling guilty about all the clothing we have in our wardrobe that we have never worn.  

Despite changes in recent years on the traditions and protocols on what to wear in the workplace with a move away from formal office-wear to more comfortable smart-casual, the fact is that whether you work in an office, classroom or trendy workspace, what you wear does affect how you are viewed at work.  What we need are some hard and fast ways to look professional, dress well for our job and feel good so we can leave home for the day with confidence:-

  1. Knowing what suits youmeans you can spend a little longer in bed, with your kids or in the gym first thing in the morning. If your capsule wardrobe is full of clothes that fit you, are the right style for you and in the best colours for you then you can save a huge amount of time (and money) and eliminate the extra stress choosing an outfit can give you in the morning. An easy to wear, uncluttered, guilt-free wardrobe that showcases your personality and body architecture is win win.
  2. The Corporate Look –Up until 10 years ago women wore more masculine formal looks such as navy or black suits to look more like men and to be taken seriously, but now only one in 10 employees are thought to wear a suit to work. It may be that in very formal or conservative jobsa suit still signals success and professionalism but what’s wrong with standing out a little and adding some flare? If you dress like everyone else then you may feel like you fit in more easily, but you are less likely to get noticed. If tailored jackets don’t suit you trade them in for a more unstructured jacket or for a cashmere or a good quality cotton cardigan in a colour that makes you look radiant.
  3. Take Pride– Being well groomed and wearing the right size and style can make or break your professional look.  Wearing shoes that make you walk badly or being unkempt is a poor start to you entering the room for an important meeting.  If you take care of yourself this in turn tells your colleagues, bosses and clients that you are more likely to take care with your work and of them. 
  4. It is all in the detail.  We all suit different hemlines, necklines, trouser lengths, lapels and sleeves, not to mention of course colours, fabrics, structure, patterns and details. Know what suits you rather than necessarily opt for what is on the runways or in every shop in the high street.
  5. Wearing quality itemssays we are successful because we have investment power.  Quality is always better than quantity for your look, and when you think about it for your wallet and the environment too. Cost per wear is a great philosophy for life.
  6. Colour– Only 1 in 4 of us can look good in black whether that be a suit or other workwear and that includes the gents. Choose the colours that makes you look fresh and dynamic not drained, but in your mind professional. 
  7. Personalise your work attirewith easy-update, ready to grab accessories such as gorgeous bags, scarves and quality jewellery which can quickly be slipped on in the mornings to add panache and style. Perfectly pair with a fabulous pair of shoes that can boost your confidence and empower neutral smart attire in particular. Use a pattern shoe such as snakeskin, a bold colour or detail such as unusual bows, straps or heels to make a statement depending on what suits your personality.
  8. Be authentic– Know who you are. Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates and Richard Branson all have a clear work look that makes them themselves.  If you have a bubbly and bright personality, then try a gorgeous fun-patterned blouse with cigarette trousers.  If you are a classic dresser then ooze timeless style with a gorgeous shift dress.  Add a ruffle or two if you have some gorgeous curves.Being and dressing true to yourself actually leads to stronger bonds with your peers and removes barriers in the workplace.
  9. Confidence bags the job– It is important not just how you are perceived by others but how you feel about yourself. Have a bit of variety in your wardrobe so you can feel confident if you need to be authoritative and chic because you have a big meeting, or more relaxed and creative because you are writing an important document. Perhaps one day you need to be less of an authority figure and more of a coach.Always be authentically you but dress for the day ahead to be confident.
  10. Understand Smart Casual– If your job role is more casual still always opt for a smart-casual to give the best impression. Be on your boss’s radar for all the right reasons. The old adage still stands – dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Over half of workers believe a casual dress code is more affordable and takes less upkeep, and more than one fifth say they felt more able to express their personality, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look good at work.  

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay