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Dress for success: how to choose your wardrobe essentials for work

Polished professionalism vs laid-back office chic

Create the perfect office capsule wardrobe

What capsule wardrobe essentials do I need?

What not to wear in the office

Knowing that you look fabulous in your office outfit is a great way to boost your confidence at work. But more than this, evidence suggests that how you dress not only affects how others perceive you, it may even improve your workplace performance. Read on for some simple and cost-effective ideas that will help you create your perfect office wardrobe and achieve maximum impact with minimum hassle.

It’s widely known that research studies have confirmed that if you look the part by dressing smartly, your colleagues and clients are much more likely to think that you are good at your job. But interestingly more recent studies indicate that by choosing the right business outfits, you may also be subconsciously inspiring yourself to up your game at work. Whatever line of work you are in, make your sense of style work for you and dress for success.

Polished professionalism vs laid-back office chic

Let’s start with the basics: first of all you need to be clear what your company’s dress code is. If your work environment is traditional and formal, you will need office outfits that project polished professionalism. If you work in a creative or informal field, your office dress code might be much more relaxed and you may be encouraged to express your individuality in what you wear. Health and safety or other regulations may mean that some workplaces even prohibit the wearing of certain items.

Whatever your workplace dress culture, make sure that you are clear on what is expected and accepted there. That way you don’t run the risk of spending lots of money on a wardrobe of essentials for work that you can’t actually wear there.

But wherever you work, a few simple steps make it easy to put together your perfect work wardrobe to get the right work look that makes you feel that you can accomplish anything.

Create the perfect office capsule wardrobe

Creating the perfect office capsule wardrobe is an excellent way to get the most out of your budget, save you loads of time when getting ready for work – and avoid the stress of “I don’t know what to wear today” days. By choosing and combining a limited number of wardrobe essentials for work, you can pull together a professional look in moments. And the number of different office outfits you can create with just a small capsule wardrobe might surprise you: just two pairs of trousers, a few tops, two skirts, a blazer and a dress mean that you already have over a month’s worth of different options!

Having a selection of versatile staples in easy-to-combine colours means that you can vary your look day-to-day. Don’t think that a capsule wardrobe is boring: by teaming up different pieces and some clever accessorising, you can keep your work look almost endlessly fresh. The other great thing about a work capsule wardrobe is that it is easy to make a few small tweaks to update it each season, or to incorporate current trends.

What capsule wardrobe essentials do I need?

If you are on a budget or starting your first office capsule wardrobe, you can keep things simple by focusing on three key components: neutral colours, accent colours and patterns/textures.

A good place to start is by reviewing your existing business wardrobe and identifying its two most common neutral colours. For your base neutral you might choose black, grey, navy or beige when buying any new work essentials. These might include trousers, skirts, dresses, plus a blazer or jacket that will form the key building blocks for your office outfits. If you budget allows, you can also choose a second neutral for some of the basics in your business wardrobe, which will give you a much wider range of workwear options. Popular choices for secondary neutrals include grey, navy, white, cream or camel.

The next step is to choose your two or three accent colours. These are colours that you love, really suit you and are perfect for adding add a pop of colour to your business outfit. Tops, a cardigan, scarves and jewellery will all help you put your own individual stamp on your office look. Accent colours are also ideal for varying your look from season to season: warm colours may be perfect in autumn and winter, whereas a brighter, fresher colour may work better in spring and summer.

Finally you need to consider adding patterns and textures to your office capsule wardrobe. These are a simple but fabulous way to extra add interest to your office outfits. Stick to your chosen colour palette, but choose two or three patterns or textures that will add variety to your look and incorporate them into your office capsule wardrobe. You may love stripes, polka dots or florals, for example, or be a fan of the panache that some velvet, lace or embroidery gives to an outfit.

Once you have the basics of your office capsule wardrobe in place, you can update your capsule wardrobe regularly by adding a piece or two in the new season’s trends in your favourite neutral, or including a new accent colour in your palette.

What not to wear in the office

We absolutely subscribe to the view that every woman should wear what makes her feel fabulous, but there are a few things that you need to avoid when creating your perfect office wardrobe. Very short or low-cut office outfits are generally inappropriate in the workplace and can project an unprofessional image. If you work with machinery, it’s better not to wear anything too long and flowing, in case it gets caught and leads to injury. It’s also a good idea to avoid jangly jewellery in the office, as the noise can be distracting both to you and to those around you.

By following a few simple guidelines, it’s easy to create your perfect office wardrobe that will save you time, money and stress. With your very own collection of versatile staples and some clever accessorising, it’s easy to dress for success!