Well-dressed for the workplace

Dressing appropriately for the workplace doesn’t have to be dull and boring

2010 has just begun, and while not all our new year’s resolutions have gone down the drain, they may be getting increasingly challenging to follow through on.

The one thing we can do now and get instant results is how we present ourselves. Everyday we make an effort to put clothes on our back and present ourselves. Fashion is an attitude, a lifestyle, and the freedom of expressing our personality.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening,” as CoCo Chanel once said.

Arguably, fashion is the first step we need to take in accomplishing the rest of our goals in 2010. Perhaps you’ve started a new job this year already: work wear, especially office attire, has become drab and dull. If you want to freshen up your current wardrobe, here are a few ideas.

The suit is a staple when it comes to most professional workplaces. Although black dress pants and a black blazer are formal and functional, it can get boring. 

Spice up your suit by swapping dress pants with a pencil skirt in gray or tweed fabric to add texture. If you want to take this look further, you can add some patterned nylons such as lace or stripes for a fashion-forward look. 

Men’s accessories go hand in hand with updating your work ensemble. 

Pairing jeans with a corduroy blazer and patterned bow tie instantly updates the classic suit. It’s about adding accessories which can be worn outside work and being able to transition from day to night, formal to casual and vice versa.

If your job calls for a casual look, skinny jeans in various washes are great to wear with a floral blouse or chunky cardigan.

If skinny jeans aren’t your thing, opt for wide leg trousers in earth tones. Gray or navy are alternatives to black. These can be mixed and matched with layered tees and chunky jewelry. 

Graphic tees are fun to wear but depending on how casual your work is you want to remain professional. For instance, worn under a blazer is a good option. 

Jobs which require uniforms are obviously difficult to alter. Thinking of what to wear the next day is eliminated, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in any less effort. 

Experimenting with various hair accessories, such as bejeweled or adorned headbands, and diversifying your hairstyle is excellent with the same uniform look day in and out. Playing up your make-up with colorful shades of eye shadow or lipstick keep you looking vibrant. I suggest pale pink or peach blush and face illuminator to keep a fresh-faced glow. 

Switch plain stud earrings with flower studs available at most jewelry and accessory shops. Layering your own favorite pendants to a plain chain adds unique individuality to accessorizing. Exotic cuffs, bangles and bracelets are great to wear in bunches and can be purchased at various ethnic shops and festivals. 

Remember that although there are crazy fashions you may want to try, not every trend suits everyone. Experimenting with different styles is great but keep in mind that sophistication and professionalism always works best in the workplace.

Published in Volume 64, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2010)

Related Reads