No matter how rockin’ you look in unique garb to set you apart from your dreary office mates, you probably shouldn’t wear it. It’s time to up your game with professional and appropriate workwear accessories.
Image by WallPaper via Flickr
Searching your great-grandfather’s trunk, you discover his cravat. You put it on, stand in front of the mirror, and, wow, you look spiffy. So much so, you wonder if you should wear it to work. We’ll lay it on you straight. No. Just no. Do not wear your great-grandfather’s cravat to work, no matter how dashing you think it makes you look. The only situation in which you should don the man-scarf is if your boss hosts a mandatory costume party.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, you, young lady, have lunch with your mom and stepdad. Mom really wants you to like him… He hands you a distinctive box, a shoe box. Why on earth would he be giving you shoes? Maybe, you think, there’s something else inside. And… they’re not shoes. They are sandals. You recognize them from Emilio Pucci’s Spring Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection!!!! Italian, kitten-heeled sandals, in shiny gold calf-leather. You also know they retail for $790. Your first thought is, “I can wear these to work on Monday!” Wait a minute: no, you cannot. Don’t do it! Yes, they’re expensive, fancy and “designer.” But that doesn’t mean they are work appropriate. (Hint: these shoes would NOT be a result in a search for (workwear suppliers UK so get a clue!)
- work in a corporate environment
- want to be wholly appropriate
- let your work speak for you
- don’t want to be “known” for quirky or whimsical dress
…then you need to adhere to simple rules. Consider this first: Your goal is to be noticed for your capabilities, tenacity and success, not your joie de vivre.
If you are a gentleman putting together a new spring work-wardrobe, look for (note accessories, in bold):
- a tailored-suit, well-fitted
- colors in the grey, blue and brown palette
- shirts in the limited palettes which coordinate to the above suit colors
- ties that feature stripes or subtle designs in no more than three coordinating colors
- a simple, elegant tie clip (not one that promotes your favorite football team or narcissistically boasts your name)
- trousers that are either flat-front or single pleat
- traditional leather shoes in black or brown
Not enough can be said for the quality, tailoring and condition of your clothes. If a repair is needed, have it professionally done, and do it immediately (and it should go without saying, you don’t wear the item until it’s fixed). Take scuffed shoes to the cobbler. If you absolutely cannot bear what you now view as repression, consider the super-trendy “wild” and colorful printed sock — but not for corporate events, significant contract client reviews, or meetings and interviews which could result in promotion.
For women – and, mind you, this is advice on the very far right of conservative – think professional woman (not a woman dressing like a man), and starched-cotton shirt dresses for “Casual Fridays.” Pair Friday’s dress with either lower-heeled pumps, or, if you think you can get away with it, clean, dark duck-cotton espadrilles.
By all means, keep your work and personal statement clothes separate. Hang them on either side of your closet, or on the single rack of your wardrobe.
Flattering and rather faultless, are simple, well-fitting, clean, dark-colored jackets with coordinating pants or skirts. A-lined dresses in tweed or solids may also be worn. Who doesn’t love a jaunty Nanette Lepore suit? Alas, not appropriate corporate work wear (unless you are CEO and can wear whatever you like).
Acceptable Corporate Accessories
(again, for the most conservative of environments)
- Earrings: diamond, gold or platinum stud earrings (especially if you have short hair) or small hoops no bigger than your earlobe.
- Necklace: don’t wear one, or if you do, choose the classic pearls or a small chain with no more than one charm.
- Watch: rely on your phone, or choose a very simple, small watch. The trend towards high-profile men’s-style watches attracts attention. Be sure they’re looking at your portfolio and not your wrist.
- Shoes: Pumps, plain and simple. And yes, you look dowdy in anything shorter than a 3” heel.
- Tights: Sure, Kate Middleton always wears them, but in this area we’re liberal. Princess Diana, after all, ditched tights in later life, and so do we. But if you feel it completes your work persona, go for it.