Are you about to start a new job? Perhaps you’ve had a change of heart and are embarking on an entirely different career path. We are often told to dress for the job we want, not the one we have. Hence, your professional wardrobe may require a long-awaited makeover.
Dressing professionally for men seems comparatively straightforward - suits, ties, smart trousers, blazers, etc. However, deciding on professional attire as a woman can be tricky. As we fight the ongoing battle for workplace equality, the correlation between what we wear and how we are viewed as professionals cannot be ignored. As such, here are some tips to help you dress for success.
The power suit is aptly named, and the good news is that 80s power dressing is making a comeback for Autumn 2023. Think oversized blazers, shoulder pads and two-piece professional attire designed to make wearers feel confident. The conception of this iconic fashion statement marked a turning point in women’s empowerment, symbolising the breaking of the glass ceiling and the dismantling of gender roles. The trick to styling a power suit in 2023 is to find one that fits you like a glove and allow it to speak for itself.
Long hours spent at work, giving presentations and negotiating with clients become decidedly harder to deal with if you’re wearing uncomfortable clothes. Ill-fitting garments and poor-quality fabrics can be distracting, impacting your productivity and ability to concentrate. Prioritising comfort by selecting outfits that are weather-appropriate, professional and pleasant to wear will enable you to tackle anything the day throws at you with confidence, so throw out or donate any garments that make you feel anything less than fantastic.
A well-fitting tailored blazer is an excellent piece to keep in your capsule workwear wardrobe. This versatile piece can be styled with multiple pieces for an instantly professional yet stylish look. While oversized blazers are currently in fashion, a tailored blazer may be slightly more work-appropriate, depending on your company’s dress code. Furthermore, you can use your tailored blazer for non-work outfits - use a simple black blazer to dress up jeans and a t-shirt, or style it with a patterned midi dress for a smart yet feminine semi-formal ensemble.
If your job involves spending a lot of time on your feet, good shoes are a necessity. While you may be able to spend a day in high heels without issue, medical experts warn of the long-term, damaging effects, including poor posture, ankle instability and foot pain. Safeguard the health of your feet and ankles by investing in good-quality shoes that offer sufficient support. Moreover, investing in superior footwear promotes longevity, so avoid the temptation of grabbing a pair of cheap shoes you’ll only end up replacing before you know it.
Speaking of investing in quality, this concept stretches far beyond shoes. While spending a fortune overhauling your work wardrobe with superior pieces is likely unfeasible, invest wisely whenever possible. For instance, if you need a new work jumper for the colder months, consider cashmere, one of the highest-quality fibres available due to its exceptional durability. Additionally, you may not have to spend eye-watering amounts - you can find high-quality cashmere in UK sales all year round.
When it comes to getting ready for work in the morning, many of us don’t have the time to faff around styling outfits. Fortunately, a simple dress or jumpsuit offers the convenience of looking stylish and put together with minimal effort. Provided your chosen dresses and jumpsuits are work-appropriate, you can create a collection of grab-and-go outfits that require little-to-no styling, save for a few simple accessories. Choose flattering cuts, styles and colours that make you feel confident and ready to tackle the working day.
The concept of “appropriateness” will vary depending on your workplace. For instance, you may have to put more thought into whether or not an outfit is appropriate if you work with children or vulnerable individuals. However, as a rule of thumb, avoid anything that may be considered “provocative”, such as tops that are too low-cut, and skirts and shorts that fall well above the knee. It is also wise to avoid clothing with potentially offensive slogans, graphics or logos.