This post is written by Cami, fashion contributor.
I am a firm believer in the adage, “dress for success” as well as “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. I think there are a few staple items every woman should have her in closet, and these items can be purchased on any budget.
These are my guidelines when purchasing clothes for the office:
1. Keep it simple
I think too often women try to over-accessorize or have outfits that are very “busy”. When it comes to dressing for work, think clean: clean lines, clean cuts, clean patterns, etc. Do not distract from your intellect and ability by wearing something too flashy or by wearing items that will make noise or make your job difficult (ie. Lots of jewelry, too-high of heels, etc)
2. Be conservative and appropriate
I think one of the biggest fashion “no-no’s” I have witnessed in my various jobs has been women wearing clothing that is too revealing or too casual. If you want to be taken seriously (men and women), you need to take yourself seriously and have some self-respect. I know many people work hard to keep themselves in great shape, and I applaud you; there are many times and places you can dress to show that off – work is not one of them. When choosing clothing for the workplace, be sure you can move comfortably and without coming un-tucked or showing excess skin. I recommend skirts that hit the knee, and I would avoid clothing that is too sheer, tight or low-cut. I am also a firm believer that conservative and “modest” does not equate with frumpy or unattractive – there are many ways to dress appropriately and still be a fashionista.
3. Have fun, show your personality
Although we are taught from a young age to “not judge a book by it’s cover”, the fact of the matter is, we all do it. What you choose to wear says a lot about you – whether you intend it to or not. Although you should dress age and work-appropriate, you should not allow your personality to be lost in the process. I enjoy choosing professional items with little touches like ruffles, or a fun print that still come across as strong and professional, but let my personality shine through.
Now for the “staple items” I recommend for every work wardrobe:
A Great Suit:
I believe that a power-suit is a necessity in every working-woman (and man)’s closet. I recommend purchasing matching trousers and a blazer, and then allowing yourself to mix and match. Depending on your work environment, you may not need to wear a full suit every day, so you can dress down the slacks with a blouse and cardigan, but you can step it up to a full suit when necessary. I personally love a black-and-white color combo – I think it is clean, strong and versatile; you can throw in pops of color with your accessories. However, if black-and-white is not your cup of tea, choose another option; I would recommend sticking to a neutral color (black, grey, brown) for your suit and add color in your shirt or accessories. Keep in mind, you should not over-accessorize, and always be sure your outfit is comfortable and conducive to your work responsibilities.
Next up, A Well-Structured, Work-Appropriate Dress and/or Skirt:
There are few things I love more than a good dress or skirt. Wearing dresses and skirts to work is fun and feminine, but you need to be careful when you are choosing cuts, styles and fabrics. I commend
buying dresses and skirts with a little more structure and substance to them for the office. I would suggest leaving the clingy, overly-flowy and short dresses/skirts to your days off or a night out. Be sure that if you have a dress with a deep neckline, you keep yourself reasonably covered – you want to make sure you, your co-workers and clients/customers are not distracted by what is or is not covered. You should let your work clothing be a reflection of your competence, you should exude confidence and not be concerned about constantly re-adjusting – focus on your work.
Business-Casual “Casual Friday”:
Many offices have a “casual Friday” rule that allows employees to be a little less formal than they are the other days of the week. Please notice I said a little less formal – this does not give you license to
show up to work in your home-improvement outfit or gym clothes (I have witnessed both of these situations in previous employment). Casual Friday should be an opportunity to wear some nice, well-
tailored jeans and a fun blouse or nice t-shirt and a jacket/cardigan. Keep in mind, you are still at work, and still a representative of your company, and your clothing should reflect that responsibility.