Your professional wardrobe doesn’t have to be boring to communicate credibility in your field. You can wear clothes that send the message of “office confident,” and still show off your unique style. With warmer weather knocking at our door, now is the time to do an inventory of your closet and repair, tailor, repurpose or purge some of your outdated items.
I’m looking forward to speaking to a group of up and coming professional women, The Young Non Profit Professional Network, in Austin, Texas, in a couple of weeks at the J. Crew store at The Domain. Here’s a peek at a few of my suggestions to update your Spring work wardrobe (clothing items courtesy of J. Crew online).
A crisp white shirt and summer weight blazer. Ladies, take a look at the armpits of your favorite white shirt. If you see rips, stains or a collar that is anything but snowy white, it’s time to deep clean, or replace. Make sure the bottom of your shirt does not pull out when you bend over or stand up. And a blazer is a nice compliment to a pair of dress slacks, and versatile enough to wear with a pencil skirt, as well as on the weekend with your favorite pair of jeans.
Here’s an underpinning I recently purchased. The key to wearing this cami during a work day is to keep your jacket on in a professional setting. After work you can take the jacket off, change into jeans, and meet your friends for dinner.
A lightweight trench. Just in time for Spring showers, a lighter weight coat for a chilly morning or rainy day is a wardrobe must. This one will brighten even the dreariest day:
Treat yourself to a new pair of shoes. A new pump is always welcome in a girl’s closet. An updated pair of heels, and a comfortable, yet stylish flat will add a fresh look to your outfit. Select those you will wear over and over again. Don’t go for something too trendy or a style that will be outdated by Fall. Choose quality over quantity.
Don’t forget accessories. You can tell a great deal about a working girl’s personality by her choice of purse and jewelry. Keep your purse a neutral color so it will go with most everything. As a second choice, select a purse that will take you from lunch with a client to happy hour with friends. Depending on the industry, and the office culture, use a piece of pretty costume jewelry to add flair to your look. Caution: don’t overdo it. One great piece is all you need.
Be a little daring! Using your best judgment, purchase a few pieces that are bold but still office appropriate. This floral skirt is a good example of a Spring update.
What Does Casual Friday Look Like?
- Dress slacks and pencil skirts are an office must have. No capris or maxi dresses.
- Add a color and a patterned shirt or blouse to your wardrobe.
- No camisoles without a jacket or sweater.
- A comfortable heel or a nice pair of flats will get you through the day. No sandals or tennis shoes.
- If jeans are allowed, opt for a dark wash and a flattering cut. No colored, frayed, skinny or faded jeans.
- A crisp button-down shirt. No t-shirts.
- Pressed, and appropriately hemmed khakis or chinos. No linen pants or shorts.
- Scuff and scratch free leather loafers. No flip flops, boat shoes, or tennis shoes.
- Have a sport coat and tie in your office in case you are called to a last minute business meeting.
- If jeans are allowed in your office, keep them dark with simple details. No large metal buttons on the back pockets or rips in the knees.
Regardless of where you shop for your business clothing, make sure it fits properly and will represent you in the manner you want to be perceived. It’s your reputation – take it seriously, and personally!