How to Revamp Your Work Wardrobe
It’s 7:00 a.m. and you’re staring into your closet, wondering what on earth you’ll wear to work today. Between worn-out pumps, lifeless suits, and tattered jackets, your arsenal of professional attire has seen better days. Oh well, you sigh as you reach for another uninspired outfit. If this sounds like your typical morning, it might be time to admit that your professional wardrobe needs some attention.
Touching up your work attire periodically is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, when you look great in flattering clothes that fit you well, you will feel more confident. And when you are confident, it shows in your work. Secondly, despite the fact that you are judged by the great work you do, your boss, clients, and coworkers also notice your appearance. Therefore, if your clothes are ill-fitting, outdated, or just plain drab, you might unintentionally be sending the wrong message to those around you.
Whether you have recently changed jobs and need a look that reflects your new professional environment, you want to modernize your work wardrobe, or if you just no longer feel excited about your current work clothes, don’t despair. Giving your work wardrobe a makeover is much simpler than you think—and it doesn’t have to blow your budget either. Keep reading for no-fail tips to help you refresh your professional clothing and make the impression you want to make.
Start with a good foundation.
The foundational pieces of your closet are worth a little investment. After all, these are the clothes you’ll be wearing more than once a week. For these pieces, select high-quality fabrics in a base tone that works for you. Black is the easiest shade to find, but remember that it may not flatter every skin tone. You may also consider pieces in gray, navy, brown, or beige tones.
Stock up on staples.
There are a few staples every working woman should have on rotation in her wardrobe. Make sure you have a blazer, a skirt, and pants in a base color like black or navy. Choose classic cuts and lines so you can build upon these pieces in complementary ways that suit your body type. For instance, depending on your personal style and shape, you can choose either a pencil skirt or one with pleating or an A-line for added ease. To further make these pieces your own, complete the look with accessories that reflect your style.
Focus on fabrics.
Don’t get so caught up in the style, cut, or color of your work clothes that you forget to consider the fabrics they are made of. Wool is one of the most durable fabrics for work clothes. It’s also one of the easiest to maintain. However, not all wools are created equally. Now there are wool fabrics that “breathe” and include a Lycra blend for added stretch. During warmer months, pieces in silk and cotton are great options. And no matter what fabrics you end up choosing, avoid those that need a lot of dry cleaning. This only adds to your to-do list and budget.
Look your best with column dressing.
Column dressing is an easy way to look taller and thinner. It consists of wearing a top and pants or a skirt in the same base color. (It’s also a clever way to extend your wardrobe—especially when you want to pack lightly on business trips.) If you’re building a work wardrobe from scratch, you can start each ensemble with a “column” and then mix up your looks by adding a different color jacket, sweater, shoe, or belt.
Go wild for prints.
After you’ve got several great foundational pieces, you can experiment with some more playful items to spice up your wardrobe. For example, in place of your usual black pencil skirt, you could wear a skirt with a fun print instead. Or take the black blazer you wore as a suit jacket on Monday and pair it with a black-and-white polka dot silk skirt and a sleek layering top in black or white for a different look on Wednesday.
Dress up your work clothes for after-hours events.
With minimal effort, you can dress up your work clothes for a business dinner, company event, or even a fun night on the town. For example, wear a sheer blouse or camisole or dressy tank top under a blazer during the day, and then transition into evening. You can also add long earrings or a necklace to dress up a suit or slip on open-toe shoes to make an outfit look instantly sexier. A leather jacket is also a great essential; depending on your job, it can work with a skirt or pants at the office and it always looks great after work.
Find the perfect pair of pumps (and a perfect handbag).
A great-fitting pair of pumps is a must-have for your work wardrobe. A classic style in a heel height that works for you is absolutely worth the investment, because you’ll wear them so often. If you would like to keep your more classic pieces feeling current, buying a new shoe or handbag for the season makes any outfit look fresh and new. Be sure to choose a handbag or briefcase that fits your style, functions well, and is not too heavy. And take care to keep your shoes and bags in tip-top condition. To do this, bring your shoes to a shoemaker for new heels, soles, polish, and to repair nicks. Also repair or replace broken buckles and handles on bags, and have your leather cleaned regularly.
Complete your look with of-the-moment accessories.
The perfect jewelry, scarf, or belt can elevate your whole outfit and make it look new and exciting. With the right accessory, you can add personality to basic black ensembles, make old pieces look brand new, and stand out (in the right way) at your office. Coordinate your accessories with the trends of the moment and always keep the current season in mind as well!
Above all, stay classy.
The three factors you should always keep in mind when shopping for work clothes are your current age, your body type, and your career. Wearing clothing that is too tight, too revealing, or too short is a common mistake. This makes you look disheveled and inappropriate, and speaks volumes to your boss and coworkers about who you are and what you think about yourself. Consider the impression you want to make, and ensure that your wardrobe choices reflect the image you want to maintain.
Over the course of your career, you’ll spend a significant portion of your life at work, so it’s worth the effort to carefully select clothing that reflects who you truly are. By putting thought and care into your appearance, you reinforce the message that you are capable, confident, and brilliant. Plus, when you look fabulous and confident at work, you will feel great about yourself and be able to enjoy your career even more.