Figuring out what to wear in the office needn’t be a minefield, resulting in dull choices.
Four or five solid, stylish items that you can wear in numerous variations (dress + knit + shirt, say, or jeans + soft blazer + blouse) will ease your early morning routine – and, more importantly, send positive messages to others.
What we wear to work matters. It influences how others treat us and, crucially, how we feel about ourselves too. Sloppy clothes = sloppy work and all that. According to research, when we first meet someone in a work scenario – the dreaded interview outfit – we have 0.1 of a second to win.
Once you’ve bagged the job, don’t underestimate what your clothes say about you. Sometimes words are out of reach at work, especially around senior staff. A chipper pink trouser or some intriguing Prada-esque layering, can be enough to pique interest – who’s he/she?
Morals tell us that what we wear to work shouldn’t matter; that success is the culmination of efficiency, aptitude and pluck. Yes, but the truth is, we are a visual species and we make judgements on how everyone – ourselves included – look.
It’s ok to care about how you look at work – success has many faces. When you play the game, and do it well, your clothes can stir fascination, respect, joy and amazement – they can make you feel powerful and confident.
- Big, bold patterns make clothes too memorable and shorten their life span; details should be slyly eye-catching rather than conversation stoppers.
- Don’t wear anything that restricts your movement or the way you sit at work.
- Buy little but buy well. Even if you can’t afford to buy lavishly, you can still make the effort to look polished and thoughtfully dressed.
- Don’t bankrupt yourself for your work wardrobe. You can dress to look a million dollars if you know what you’re looking for and you’re not afraid of sales or outlets.
- If you’re a trouser woman, then make sure the shapes you wear are really current. You can push it in ways that you couldn’t before.
- Invest properly in coats, tailoring and accessories – donning a glossy leather belt with gold hardware makes everything you wear it with look more glamorous and sleek. You’ll still be wearing it in 20 years.
- Flats are absolutely fine at work. Even better are flatforms – flat shoes with an extra-thick sole. These give you a bit of height, which is also a bonus, especially if you’re working with men. Where possible, you want to try to be looking at someone in the eye, rather than at their pecs.
- Keep your shoe shapes current. A square toe or a slingback could be the difference between being stylish and being stuck in a rut. The block heel is a perfect shoe for work: it’s elevated, but practical and flattering, too.
- If you have a manicure it should never be chipped. If you find manicures, or any other grooming device, too time-consuming or expensive, then don’t do it.
- Invest in a flattering, low-maintenance haircut that doesn’t yell ‘Hair-Do’.
- Always polish your shoes.