In this day and age, one of the most important ways to establish credibility and hone an overall professional demeanor is to dress for success. From the subtle details of donning the right clothes and creating a certain look that sets a first impression, there is a distinct and undeniable advantage to looking stylish and fashionable in the office and beyond.

That being said, knowing what to wear for different occasions can be confusing and intimidating, especially for those who aren’t sure what looks best for any given situation. From the casual office to an important meeting or presentation and even after-office events, putting together the perfect outfit can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be so hard! With the right knowledge, you too can dress for success. Here’s how:

Tips for Creating the Perfect Office Look

  1. Create a wardrobe foundation: Start building your wardrobe staples with a few timeless items like tailored trousers, blouses, skirts, and a classic black dress. Consider investing in quality pieces that will last longer, while keeping in mind versatility and inter-mixability. Also, don’t forget to pick a few basic white and black tees and sweaters.

  2. Comfort: Your comfort comes first. Make sure all items fit properly, you can move in them, and you feel breezy in any given weather. Certain fabrics appropriate for certain climates will be a major-plus.

  3. Accessories: Accessories, such as scarves, statement jewelry and belts can add a bit of flair to your look and make it more interesting. Think about what kinds of accessories work with the existing items in your closet and make sure the colors complement each other.

  4. Shoes: Shoes are paramount for completing any look. The law is: no sneakers, no flip-fops, but beautiful leather shoes or pumps with heels of an appropriate height should be more than enough.

  5. ‘Office Casual’: When it comes to office casual, the golden rule is to “dress it up”. Jeans and a blouse always work well, but remember to keep the jeans dark, pair them with heels or wedges and make sure they’re not too tight.

Types of Business Attire

  1. Business Formal: In general, this type of attire is the strictest required for certain professions or events. Typically, a business formal wardrobe includes a suit such as a blazer, dress shirt, dress pants, dress shoes, and an appropriate tie. For women, an appropriate skirt may replace the dress pants. Colors like black and navy blue are popular but not always necessary depending on the type of event.

  2. Business Professional: As an intermediately dressy look, business professional is also an appropriate choice for most professional occasions. Business professional may include slacks and a dress shirt, while women can opt for tailored trousers, dress shirts, skirts, and dresses. Suits may also be appropriate but spices things up with a vest or cardigan.

  3. Business Casual: This is a more laid-back approach to a professional look and includes items like slacks, dress shirts or blouses, skirt, sweaters, and suitable shoes. For both men and women, khakis and chinos work great, but wearing a sport coat or a blazer adds an extra level of sophistication.

Considerations for Different Events and Venues

  1. Office Events: Every office may have a different dresscode than the rule listed above, so a great way to ensure “work-appropriateness” is to always dress one or two notches above the existing norm. This will ensure you’re dressed appropriately without seeming out of place.

  2. Networking Events: Dress to impress! These types of events often require more upscale and fashionable attire. Keep the separate pieces relatively classic but find interesting (but still professional) ways to combine them.

  3. Social Gatherings: Most social gatherings take a business casual approach, so wear flattering and interesting pieces. Add flair with interesting accessories or choose a vibrant outfit to give you confidence without sacrificing professionalism.

Dressing successfully is an essential part of the overall professional package. By understanding how to create the perfect office look and choosing wardrobe items that highlight your personal style and flare, you can create an overall look that reflects who you are and makes you feel confident and successful. Clothing speaks volumes, so make your wardrobe do the talking for you.

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