Whether you are an old hand at corporate wear, or selecting you first interview outfit, I have some great tips to climb the corporate dress ladder! Read on for some advice to help you liven up your corporate closet or guide you in your first steps to becoming a style savant in the office.
Here are some great general tips to sharpen your look without fail!
- When in doubt, dress formally. They say there is no such thing as overdressed and over-educated, and I totally agree. I am not referring to wearing a ball gown to a family dinner (which would be fabulously daring, BTW!) but rather about the events that you are not too sure about. When done right, formal is never too much whereas you will easily stand out if you are not dressed formal enough.
- Business does not mean boring. You can go a long way with a basic ensemble and change things up with accessories like scarves, jewellery and shoes. By using accessories to liven up an outfit, you avoid the risk of overdoing it and looking unprofessional.
- By investing in classic, high- quality pieces you are giving your wardrobe longevity that will benefit you in the years to come. Beautiful fabrics in classic colours and quality cuts will never go out of style.
Now, on to the more specific guidelines!
Colour within the lines
- Stay away from too many colours at one time
- Stick to a colour palette, this will make it very easy to mix and match items without worrying about clashes. I opt for white, black, grey, blues and burgundy coloured items
- Add a flash of colour to your wardrobe with cardigans and jewellery
Proportions = promotions
- Be deliberate with your proportions. I have way too many items that fall in the mid-range (especially bottoms). These include jeans that are too relaxed fit to be skinny and others that are too tight to be a boyfriend cut. These items make your outfit look “lukewarm”
- For the office environment, anything too baggy or too tight-fitting can really leave a bad impression. Leave your super comfy, two sizes too large jersey for Saturday Netflix sessions on the couch. Also, don’t even look at the second-skin skinny jeans that force you to go commando in an effort to avoid the dreaded VPL (visible panty line). You want people to notice your intellectual assets, not your “other assets”
- Same rule applies for anything that is too short or too long. Mini-skirts are usually not appropriate (depending on how they are worn) but what about your dramatic long sleeve shirt with the cascading French lace cuffs? It might also be a bit over the top, especially if it gets in the way of actually doing your job (theatrical lace and keyboards? I don’t think they are comfortable colleagues)
- Limit the amount of accessories you wear. Coco Chanel was quoted as saying: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. You don’t want to look like a Christmas tree. Leave that for the weekend or girls night.
- Keep your shoes polished and stylish. Don’t opt for casual shoes- this is one small detail that can really bring your outfit together
- Remember that high heels are not always appropriate and when you do choose to wear heels, stay away from sequined, leopard-print stilettos with huge bows and cartoon characters to top it off. If your shoes speak louder than your resume, you are not doing yourself any favours
- No matter what the fashion magazines say “sports luxe” or athletic wear is almost always out for business attire. Some exceptions may apply and you should use your judgement in this matter, but I know I would never feel comfortable wearing a baseball cap to the office unless it is a sports day or some other specific reason. And for the love of all things fashionable, remember you are not a Kardashian, you most likely cannot pull off wearing sweatpants and heels to the office. Just don’t do it!
- Some trends are great for the corporate environment, including the masculine trend, minimalism and beautiful winter textures that are coming into the stores in South Africa at the moment
- If you love a specific trend, don’t be afraid to incorporate it, but do so with caution. A neon-coloured ring or silver studded bracelet would be great ways to liven up an outfit. Neon leggings and a biker inspired sleeveless t-shirt on the other hand, not so much!
- Generally speaking I would advise not to over-invest in trends. They come and go faster than the latest corporate buzz-word and your money is much better spent on key, timeless pieces that will add to your wardrobe for years to come
Whether you love dressing formally every day, or you are a jeans and sneakers kind of girl, spending some time on your professional wardrobe will keep you looking ready for the corporate world, and will save you money in the long run (by avoiding overspending on trends and replacing lower quality items frequently).
Go on, conquer the boardroom and show the world some love while dressing to impress!