|Polished, Professional Looks
Your goal to getting dressed for work is to project a professional, competent image, regardless of your employment level or career path.
The styles, colors, lengths and fit of your fashion choices will speak volumes about your ability to do your job. If you are concerned about your career, you'll be more concerned with looking professional than looking cute or trendy.
In general, the more distracting a piece of clothing or jewellery is, the less appropriate it is for office wear.
More guidelines to looking polished:
- Color plays a big part in professional image. Traditional career colors include red (aggressive), navy (trustworthy), gray (conservative) and black (chic). Most of these colors work well in pantsuits, skirts and shoes and mix back with softer feminine colors that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory. - Loud colors like hot pink and wild prints are much riskier in the office, but some creative types can still pull them off.
Dress Like Your (Female) Boss
Don't know where to start working on your career image? You're not alone because most companies don't have specific guidelines about what to wear to work.
One of the best clues to company dress codes is what your boss wears. Just think about the styles that the highest-level woman in your organization wears and use them in your wardrobe. Does she wear mostly skirt suits? Or does she rely on pantsuits? Does she wear hose or bare legs? Open-toed shoes or pumps?
If you don't have a reliable female executive to emulate, then trade on what the men are wearing. If they don suits and ties every day, your best bet is to use pantsuits and skirtsuits: the most formal of business looks.
Some organizations encourage employees to dress as well or better than their customers, especially for sales people and others that meet clients outside the office. For information technology professionals, this may mean corporate casual (more on this below), for pharmaceutical sales it may mean a pantsuit, for a lawyer it may mean a matched skirt suit. One way to always be prepared is to keep an extra "meet the client" outfit at the office for surprise meetings.
Unlike a fashion faux pas, a career killer outfit can do your professional image permanent damage.
Looks to avoid in the workplace:
- Too sexy: see-through lace, miniskirts, spaghetti straps, sheer sundresses, strappy stiletto sandals.
- Formal Business Attire- For women this constitutes business suits (a matched skirt and jackets) and, in most workplaces, pantsuits (matched pants and blazer). Closed-toe shoes (no sandals), blouses, hose and conservative hair,
jewellery and makeup are expected.
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