When I started brainstorming this series on “How to Develop Personal Style,” I was focusing on advising women who run their own business. So of course, adding an element of personal style to your work-wear is key for men and women who are essentially, always at work! Whether you are shopping for groceries or going to a networking event, being self-employed means that you could always end up in an important business interaction. It is key to make sure that your “work” clothes, as well as your weekend clothes, always reflect both your personal style as well as the necessary professionalism associated with your industry. That doesn’t mean you can’t don a jersey to the big game, please do!, but it does mean that you should always attempt to look clean and polished, just as you would for work. It’s about taking the extra 30 seconds to give yourself a one-over before you walk out the door…does this look like me? If I ran into Mr. Client, would I be embarrassed? If the answer to the first question is yes, great! But that doesn’t matter if the answer to the second question is also yes. You want to make sure that you are both reflecting yourself (your personal brand, a later blog topic) as well as know you would be comfortable and confident if you met your big business client. This is just one of the prices of doing business and being self-employed! If you shirk this responsibility, how will your clients know you won’t shirk theirs?
But for many of you who aren’t self-employed, dressing for work can be just as intimidating. You need to make sure you impress your boss and don’t stand out in a negative way. In some cases, this may mean toning down your style and not being “label” focused. For others, this may mean you need to invest in nicer clothing as well as step up your personal style (a price of working for that company/industry). A simple rule of thumb: use your boss as an example (or better yet, your boss’s boss). If you work in a creative industry, you should be encouraged to show-off a personal style. If you work in a professional industry, you may be surrounded by suits, but you can still stay professional in a suit while adding personal touches. Accessories are a great way to add personal elements (a stand-out necklace looks great with a boring suit) and patterned fabrics can be another way to stand out while not breaking the rules.
For everyone who needs to wear professional business attire (which happens for all at one point or another), I suggest having fun with the color of the suit, making sure it always fits perfectly, perhaps having a patterned element to the suit (notice the base of Alexa Chung’s pants below left), playing with accessories (ties/watches/shoes/socks for guys, jewelry/purse/shoes/nails for gals), and not boxing yourself into having a matchy-matchy suit. Make the jacket and bottom match by tone (such as a light beige on top and a deeper beige on bottom) rather than wearing the jacket that came with the pants with those pants every time. This will also allow you to use your existing wardrobe in a fresh way. Below and above are examples:
Please let me know if you have any questions!
- How to Develop Personal Style: Style Star (luluswanderlust.wordpress.com)
- What is Personal Style? (luluswanderlust.wordpress.com)
- How to Develop Personal Style: Creating a Style Profile (luluswanderlust.wordpress.com)
- How to Develop Personal Style: Shopping (luluswanderlust.wordpress.com)
- How to Develop Personal Style: Proportion, Shape, and Age (luluswanderlust.wordpress.com)