Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Depending on the industry you work in and your affinity with that industry, dressing for work can be a challenge. When you then factor in your personal style and the differences in that style compared to your company culture you can have a minefield of complications.
In some businesses and industries the dress code can be quite easy to follow with little room for variation, generally in formal, corporate environments a wardrobe of classic dresses, two piece suits, different coloured shirt and tie combinations that you can mix and match will normally get you through the working week.
Being ‘Corporate’ can still be stylish
If you are super stylish outside of work there are ways that you can add elements of your own individual style and personality without moving away from what’s acceptable, a cool pair of shoes in different colours, some creative accessories that enhance the suit you’re wearing can be enough to help you express your individual taste, just in a slightly more subtle way.
What if you’re in a ‘brand’ led environment?
When you move to more creative, stylish industries where they are very strongly led by the brands that they sell it’s important that you embrace this even in a corporate office environment. This is easy if your own personal style is creative, stylish and you love fashion, but it can be difficult if your personal style is more formal. There are ways of making small changes to your outfits that can help you to look more stylish and feel more comfortable, this can be as simple as changing the shape of the trousers you normally wear, looking for different materials or fabrics maybe from stiff cotton shirts to something in a softer material or drape, or subtly changing your makeup colours.
This can be an absolute minefield and one that I’ve experienced myself on a number of occasions. My own corporate journey saw me transitioning through Fashion Retail, Engineering, Consultancy and Beauty and I can tell you that what works in Retail doesn’t necessarily translate well in Engineering or Financial Services. To make this work you, you have to be thoughtful around the transition and don’t ignore the differences, even subtle changes can make a huge difference to how you are perceived.
Familiarise yourself with the Dress Code
The best place to start is to familiarise yourself with the company dress code. If you are attending an interview don’t make the assumption that you should wear a suit. Research the business, understand their culture and if you are working through a recruitment consultant ask them what you should wear. This isn’t superficial, it shows that you have done your homework and that you really want the role. It also gets you over the first hurdle because the interviewer starts to imagine you in that environment, it is one less thing for them to think about, your image helps you to have a greater or lesser impact at work.
Create yourself a Work Capsule Wardrobe
If all of this sounds far too complicated don’t worry, it really doesn’t have to be, there are lots of ways you can make it easy for yourself. Creating a ‘capsule’ work wardrobe is one of the easiest things to do. Think of it as classic with a twist, flattering trousers in a relevant style and one that suits your shape, pencil skirts if they work for you can be amazing, a stylish jacket that you can mix and match with a number of different shirts, blouses and finally a selection of plain, good quality t’shirts.
Don’t be afraid of colour
Unless you are in an industry that you have to wear black then incorporating colour into your wardrobe can benefit on many levels. Colour can be used to communicate many different messages and depending on what your day looks like you may want to consider using colour to help you through the day. For example, in colour phsychology there are certain attributes associated with different colours, e.g; red is perfect if you are presenting in a meeting but not so good if you are collaborating with your team. Colours such as purple or yellow can be seen as more creative whereas grey or beige more understated and neutral. If all this sounds too complicated, keep the style of your outfit simple, pair a bright dress with understated accessories, tailored jacket or fitted cardigan or vice versa.
And finally……………………. Accessories
A great necklace or scarf can add interest to your outfit, a bright bag and some stylish shoes, oh and don’t forget that office commute! You may well think it’s sensible to walk to work in your gym trainers, but a little tip, take them off before you get to your desk and you have to run into your first meeting! Some things can’t be unseen!
For help with your work wardrobe contact us for a no obligation consultation.
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