There’s always one person in every workplace who wears a different outfit every day. Whether it’s vintage, high-end, or athleisure, each look is at once fashion-forward, unique, and perfect for their office environment.
If you’re that person, you don’t need our fashion tips.
However, just about everyone else faces some hurdles in workplace fashion. How can you stay sufficiently formal while still expressing your unique personality? What works on the weekends doesn’t always convey competence in a client meeting.
Use this as your go-to guide to assembling a fun, functional workplace wardrobe.
Keep the Basics Simple
If you can’t wear your street attire at work, you essentially need two different wardrobes. In this case, having functional, multi-purpose garments is key. That may not sound very glamorous, but it can be!
To create a capsule wardrobe, purchase the following items:
- Five bottoms – Women can choose from skirts, pants, and more, while men should stick to pants unless shorts are workplace appropriate.
- Nine tops – Consider buying four tops in neutral colors, three in subtle patterns or bright jewel-tones, and two in more adventurous patterns.
- Five layering pieces – Depending on your style, this could be a mixture of blazers and cardigans.
- For women – Feel free to swap out some of the top and bottom combos for dresses.
Flaunt Your Footwear
Once you’ve assembled a basic capsule wardrobe full of versatile pieces, it’s time to make sure your footwear accentuates your style.
More and more workplaces allow tennis shoes and other comfy casual shoes. If this sounds like your company, just make sure you choose a sharp pair of sneakers and clean them often.
If you’re in a more formal work environment, look for stylish women’s or men’s dress shoes to match your outfits. It’s good to have:
- A black pair of shoes
- A formal boot or bootie
- A brown or tan pair of shoes
- One “fun” pair of shoes in a more adventurous color, material, or style
Keep comfort in mind, too.
Let Your Accessories Be the Hero
When you keep your wardrobe simple and sharp, you can still dress it up with standout accessories that convey your personality, without distracting from the job.
Consider the following essentials:
- A Timepiece – Daring accessories like men’s rose gold watches and women’s brightly-colored bands convey confidence. As a bonus, they boost productivity.
- Statement Jewelry – Women can usually wear their existing earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to work. Just remember Coco Chanel’s golden rule: take one piece off before leaving the house.
- Tech Accessories – Do you spend significant time working on your tablet or phone? Make sure you upgrade from the grimy, sticker-covered case you had in college. A chic cover can help you look more professional when you whip your device out to take notes.
- Socks – For many people, socks are given little to no thought. However, socks are a great way to express your personality while keeping it subtle. Even if you wear a suit to work, fun, patterned socks can provide an appropriate burst of color and personality.
Don’t Forget Your Bag
If, like most of us, your commute to work, then how do you carry your essentials? If you walk into client meetings with a JanSport backpack, it’s time for an upgrade. A more adult bag conveys preparedness and authority—plus, it looks better.
Depending on what you bring to work, consider the following:
- A statement handbag big enough to fit the essentials
- A luxe briefcase or laptop case
- An upgraded, adult backpack, perhaps in leather or faux leather
- A high-class duffel bag
A rule of thumb? If you’d be embarrassed to bring it to an interview, you shouldn’t bring it to work.
Be Yourself—But With an Upgrade
Are you still struggling to nail your workplace style? If you feel like a completely different person when you go into the office, it might affect your confidence and even your job performance. Sure, you can’t wear sweats and t-shirts to work, but you can prioritize comfortable, luxe pieces that fit you perfectly.
Work on assembling a business wardrobe that accurately reflects your true fashion priorities. For some of us, that means comfort. For others, it means pieces that pop. Once you figure out how to channel that priority into your workplace fashion, you’ll begin to feel self-assured from the inside out.