Do you have the woman in your office whose skirt is perpetually too short or her blouse is open one button too low? Do you have the guy whose pants are too loose or too short, or his jacket looks like it’s his dad’s? It’s a pet peeve of mine when people lose any sense of style in order to look how they think is professional.
What I’ve learned: regardless of your industry and the dress standards that it may have, it’s not all that challenging (or expensive) to dress well, with style, and still remain professional.
A few quick tips for the ladies:
-Break up a suit/ wear separates!
Black suit: take the blazer and pair with denim trousers (if your job allows), gray pants, skinny dress pants, etc. Take the pants and pair them with a blouse with some color or a basic white top with an interesting necklace.
– Accessories are your friend!
Add a scarf, a statement ring, a chunky necklace, or a nice earring. This paired with the basics will change up your look as well give you more mileage for your basic pieces.
-Buy well fitting pieces!
If you have a pair of well fitting black pants (one for flats, and one for heels), a classic dress or pencil skirt, white button down, blazer, and cardigan, these pieces are the basics to a professional wardrobe. If you’re in a more conservative industry, use your purse to have a little flair, or wear a little makeup and look polished.
For the guys:
-Fit is key!
No different than with the ladies, if your pants aren’t the right length or waist size, and your tops and blazer are too long/short and don’t fit in the shoulders, get them altered and get ones that do fit! Most stores have people working there to assist you in getting this right.
-Color is your friend!
Even if you’re supposed to wear a black/blue/gray suit every day, who says you can’t have a tie or shirt with some color? This helps you to stand out and look for more confident.
-Accessories can also be your friend!
Get some interesting cuff links, a unique tie (perhaps a skinny one or one with an interesting print), and make sure your computer or work bag isn’t ugly and ragged!
Moral of the story, if you look put together and like you care about the way you’re presenting yourself, other people will subconsciously recognize that and see your confidence and organization for your personal appearance. It really takes very little effort to put on a well-fitting, stylish outfit, rather than a sloppy, old-fashioned or unattractive one. Spend a short time weeding through your closet and allowing yourself to mix and match, adding some accessories or better staple pieces as needed. At the very least, it will leave you no worse off than before, but I’d venture to bet that you’ll be better off, taken more seriously, and be able to progress further in your career when other people see you on the outside how you see yourself on the inside.