How you choose to dress for the workplace not only reflects the organizational culture, but it also tells clients whether the establishment is keen on professionalism and takes its customers’ money seriously. Get it right and you can easily see your career fast-tracked. Get it wrong and you could be stuck in a low-level position for years to come.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips that’ll help you navigate fashion at the office.
If you work in a very subtle, conservative environment, stick to classic, traditional colors such as white, black, brown and gray. These color staples in the office environment are key to maintaining a chic, professional look.
Is your office a little more laid back? No problem. Nix the neutral. A pop of yellow, red, pink, etc., goes a long way and works well with dress slacks or professional pencil skirts. Your shoes offer another chance to work in color. Christian Louboutin’s are known for their red bottoms, but not all of us have that kind of money to spend on a pair of shoes. Look for a pair of floral-patterned heels. Two-toned flats also work quite well.
Want to make a statement, yet do it subtly? Studs are the way to go. And if pearls are your thing, you’re in luck. You can still pick up a pair of pearl earrings at a pretty reasonable price. You just have to know where to look. A word of advice, though: Do your research. With so many online retailers selling pearls these days, it pays to do your homework so you don’t end up overpaying for a pair of potentially fake pearl studs. Any quality retailer should be able to provide you with some sort of authenticity certificate.
Sometimes simple is better. Stacking and layering bracelets is a cute look when you’re out having brunch with the girls, but in the office it can often feel juvenile and out of place. Try going with solid bangles, and you are free to mix silver and gold if you prefer. The addition of gemstones, like diamonds, can work – but again, be careful not to overdo it. It’s not a great idea to be flashy.
Take a bolder approach when accessorizing with rings. Whether you choose to go stackable or rock rings embellished with precious stones, this piece of jewelry can definitely turn up your outfit by several notches. If you’re already wearing an engagement and/or wedding ring, it’s best to once again keep it simple with the addition of other pieces. Solitaire pearl rings also continue to rise in popularity, and like their stud cousins you can still find some really nice pieces at a good price.
We’ll keep this one short and sweet: skip it. This accessory is pretty outdated is seldom called for in most workplace environments. If you’re going for a youthful look, this probably isn’t going to help you out.
Embrace your Sexy
Ok, with everything that’s been in the news lately, we aren’t suggesting you amp up your sexy too much. But a little is perfectly acceptable. It’s possible to pull off “professional sexy” in the workplace – don’t be scared! The key is to embrace the adage of iconic fashion designer and stylist Edith Head:
“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”
Leaving aside any patriarchal implications of using the term “lady”, the key word here is class. If you have curves and you want to show them off, do so in a tasteful way. It can be empowering. But be incredibly careful not to wear anything too revealing, as this can definitely send the wrong message.