Posts Tagged ‘professional dressing tips’

Tune Up Your Professional Dress Sense


individual style at work


A sartorial challenge for the woman who likes to dress on the sexy side? Looking completely appropriate in her professional life while maintaining a shred or two of her individual style.

It’s not easy mainly because it requires beating back your curves when you’re used to showcasing them.

Sound dismal? Perhaps—but it doesn’t have to be. You can retain your authenticity and look excellent even in the most traditional of workplaces, but it requires stylistic creativity on your part.

Here are tips on how to dress beautifully for the office without smothering your individual sass or feeling like you’re in straight-up drag:

Switch Your Approach

When it comes to work clothes, switch your overall style code from “sexy” to “chic.” Chic is smart, self-aware and current—it’s also damn attractive. In the context of your professional life, looking chic carries a ton of positive traits that sexy does not.


You’ll Need New Tactics

Let’s say you typically express yourself via bold silhouettes, and garments described as skimming, body-conscious, slinky, high-cut, low-cut, thigh-high, bandage dress, bustier-top and so forth get your ears perked up fast and your little hands ready to whip out your wallet.

Start looking for different silhouettes, fabrics and

Move the spotlight away from your figure and towards the following: shoes and jackets. Make these the expressive cornerstones of your professional style and don’t skimp on quality. Better three pairs of exquisite hand-made  Italian heels than a closet littered with junky pumps from the mall. When it comes to jackets, focus on fit above all.


jacket work dress tip

A well cut jacket or coat transforms a basic ensemble into something quite professional


Have a Pow-Wow With Yourself

Who do you want to be? Your presentation is elastic–meaning what you communicate to others via your style, grooming and manner is completely up to you. But it must reflect an aspect of your true self. (Otherwise your presentation is a charade, and an exhausting one at that.) Consider what you want to say to others whom you interact with professionally. Get specific. Jot down a few adjectives or a phrase that sums up what you want others to think or feel upon meeting you and working with you. This is your Professional Style Brand. Use it as a compass to direct the items you wear in professional settings.


  • A Few Personal Favorites. I know of what I speak in this department, ladies. I bobble between several worlds, all with different dress codes, and in the interest of avoiding style schizophrenia, I’ve found style shortcuts that strategically enable you to bobble with ease between a world where body skimming silhouettes are welcome, and those where they will earn you a quick (and permanent) scarlet letter.

That said, here are a few indispensables that you might find handy when it comes to dressing in a stylistically satisfying and professionally appropriate way:


Love the Non-Iron Shirt

The best non-iron shirt I’ve come across is by Brooks Brothers which is offered in a few  very flattering varieties. Great quality with lots of endurance, meaning you can wash and wear this shirt until the cows come home and it will still look great. Not the most inexpensive in the world, but you won’t need to replace them often.


best non iron work shirt



Shirt + Wrap Dresses: Completely Appropriate

Select a quality one that fits you well and you’re golden. This is the type of garment that’s perfect when you need to get dressed quickly and are in no mood to pull together some high-concept work ensemble. The silhouettes are fairly traditional and quite respectable looking, so you can pair yours with a colorful or print heel for some flair. Don’t go higher than an inch above the knee, hemline wise. Look for those in cotton, linen and other crisp fabrics, and steer clear of slinky fabrics like jersey, which has a way of turning up, rather than beating back, the hot.


  professional dressing tips for women


Back to Shoes for a Moment…

I really like Tod’s for professional shoes. They’re a luxury brand, and deserving of the title because of the perennial elegance of their designs and bullet-proof quality of their workmanship. For You: Look for 2-3 shoe designers or brands that consistently churn out pairs you love, are of excellent quality and comfortable to wear. Hunt for discounted pairs and, again, get in the habit of buying fewer shoes, but better shoesTake care of your luxury heels and they’ll last forever. Plus, you might like that you rarely cross paths with another gal wearing the same shoes as you.


professional dress tips office

Work in a straight-laced place? Let your shoes do the talking…


Let Your Hair Down

Nail down a few hair styles that you can pull together quickly, look good and are consistent with your Professional Style Brand. Think of each hair style as a visual balancing act: In the photo above the model’s bouncy long waves work because the rest of her look is traditional and understated. If you’re going to wear something more edgy, tame your hair accordingly so the overall effect stays within the bounds of good taste for your professional situation.

I actually booked an appointment with my hair stylist, and we came up with three looks that I consistently use to beat back the big hair goodness for different professional scenarios. She showed me the hair accessories I’d need, and walked me through each step so I’d get it right on my own. Voila.

work style tips hair

Use your hair style to visually communicate and balance your professional look













A Working Style, With Individuality


Hey! Just because you’ve got a grown-up job doesn’t mean you have to give up glamour, individuality and all of those things that give you the pleasure of projecting your most attractive and authentic self to the world. A week or so ago I walked out on the sidewalk and there was this gal there. She looked great and so out I tumbled with: “Well, don’t you look great!”

I asked for a photo so I could share with the class on how to meld your individuality with even the most straight-laced jobs. She mentioned she worked for a local cable and phone company and her job had to do with checking in with new residential customers to find out how their service was going. So, it’s hardly the most jet-set type, wild and crazy gig.

But I loved how she looked so polished and comfortable and distinctive while doing it. If you’ve checked in here before, you know that I can go on endlessly how when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you perform even better. If you’ve never tested the concept, I urge you to deck yourself out in something that you love and go traipsing down the street, or to the office or a party or wherever you’d like. And feel the wonderful difference. Hallelujah!

A few parting tips on selecting your professional wardrobe:

  • Quality. Cheaply made clothes give themselves away with a poor fit. Only buy items that fit you well. If an item needs a nip or tuck, enlist a competent tailor whose work you trust. If it needs more than that, bypass the item entirely.
  • Color. Opt for solids, which are versatile and often a safe bet for traditional workplaces. Also, solids are a great backdrop for going off the grid in terms of unique or distinctive looks. In the photo above, for instance, cool sunglasses, an arm tattoo and print flats look not at all jarring when nestled next to traditional professional clothes worn in the most solid color of them all—black.
  •  Fit. A well-fitting jacket is the professional attire touchstone to end all others. That said, invest in 2-3 quality ones as the backbone of your work wardrobe. The nice thing about a great jacket is that you can wear more comfortable, relaxed pieces beneath it, and no one will notice. In the photo above, for instance, the gal could lose the jacket after work and be completely comfortable going for a walk with a friend or hitting a cafe.