Dressing up for work can be as much of a task as actual work is. You’re running late and you can’t decide what top to wear. Is red too much? Should you just stick to the pink? But it’s so boring. And didn’t you just wear it two days ago?
We’ve all been there. Office wear must be sober, but not dull, simple, but not drab, modest but not matronly. Dressing up for work is especially complicated because you don’t want your outfit to send the wrong message. When you’re meeting new clients, you want to create a favourable first impression. You want to appear competent, but not intimidating. In front of your co-workers, you want to look good. But how do you do that in the same old black pantsuit?
Luckily for you, here is a list that will help you in dressing smartly for office.
10- Follow company policy
Your company may have certain rules about dressing for work, and following them is a must. Flouting simple dress rules will give the impression that you are not really interested in your job. Since a lot of offices today have rules about what you can and cannot wear to work, it would be best if you consult the company guidelines on how to dress for work. Some companies, for example, do not allow Western wear in their offices. For such a company, you will have to invest in smart kurtas and sarees. Others do not like their employees to wear revealing clothes, so be mindful of what you put on.
9- Sober colours
Your clothes should never be loud. If you are dressing for work, make sure that your clothes are not very bright and garish. This means that black, navy, brown, white, beige, grey and cream are safe options. Your clothes, Indian or Western, should be subdued. Pant and skirt suits in black, grey and navy look very smart. The advantage with dark colours is that they are slimming and look elegant, making them perfect for the workplace. If you want to take a break from the monotony of the ‘safe’ colours, ensure that your clothes are not tacky. Instead of going for an over the top red suit, for example, you can choose a deep maroon one.
8- Accessorize well
If you think your outfit is too boring and dull, you can add a splash of colour to it by accessorizing well. A colourful scarf with a simple black blazer and skirt can make all the difference. There’s nothing wrong with adding a bright spot to your outfit with a colourful muffler, funky cufflinks or hair accessories. Sober colours in your entire outfit can make you look washed out and dull, so ensure that you have one bright accessory to tie your outfit together. A golden belt with a beige suit, for example, will look nice. Investing in a good watch is also a good idea for working people.
7- Hair in place
Nobody likes to be bothered by hair falling over their eyes while they are trying to work. To avoid this, make sure that your hair is held neatly in place. Use bobby pins and hair spray as and when necessary. Messy hair, while great for the beach, is not appropriate for office. Meeting your seniors or clients with your hair frizzy and all over the place will give a bad impression. You can tie your hair up and pin up the bangs, or use a hair band if you like your hair open. Carry a comb to brush up before important meetings.
6- Coordinated outfit
To coordinate your outfit does not mean that you dress in the same colour from head to toe. Instead, make sure that the different elements of your outfit blend well together. It is a good idea to mix and match in order to add a little variety to your wardrobe. To ensure that your outfits are coordinated, use the colour wheel to see which colours complement each other. A simple black kurta, when paired with leggings and a dupatta of a brighter colour, will look smart. Your shoes should either match your outfit or be of a neutral colour. Avoid wearing too many colours together- you won’t look nice if your top is red, your skirt black, your jacket grey and your shoes green.
5- Don’t reveal too much
One staple across different companies, when it comes to dressing guidelines, is that their employees should look ‘decent.’ While the term itself is subjective, it would be safe to assume that wearing hot pants and crop tops to work is highly inappropriate. You can save your spaghetti straps and mini skirts for the after work clubbing. While in the office, avoid revealing too much skin. Skirts should ideally be knee length. Strappy clothes and plunging necklines are a no-no. A lot of companies also like their employees to not display their tattoos, especially while meeting clients. If your company has any such stipulations, make sure your tattoos are covered too.
4- Not too casual
While a lot of companies will expect their top executives to be suited and booted at all times, many others are more relaxed. You will probably be expected to dress up in a semi formal manner, from which it is very easy to go over to casual. A kurta with a pair of well fitted jeans is good for office, but the same jeans with a t shirt may not be considered appropriate. Denims are usually frowned upon for being too casual, for make sure you wear them with a formal top. A line, straight skirts usually work best for offices. A flared and frilly skirt can look too causal.
It goes without saying that 6 inch pencil heels are not a good choice for office wear. Your shoes should be comfortable but smart. Sneakers, while comfortable, are not considered appropriate office wear. Leather shoes are usually the best- they look very good and last long. A slight heel in your shoes looks smart and is comfortable at the same time. Pumps, moccasins and ballerinas are all appropriate for office. Your shoes should be such that they go with all your outfits, so colours like black and brown are a popular choice.
2- Bag it
The right bag can make all the difference to your outfit. Your bag should be such that it goes with all your outfits, because no one has the time to keep transferring their essentials from one bag to another every morning. It should also be big enough to hold all your essentials- from your notebook to sunscreen, pens to lipstick. Since a good bag lasts long and looks very smart, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in a good one, once and for all. Leather bags, though on the more expensive side, are good for office. Alternatively, a good PU leather bag will also do the trick. Avoid sequinned or shiny handbags.
1- Minimal jewellery
Most jewellery brands today have a separate line of jewellery for working women. This jewellery is often understated but elegant, small but smart. For office wear, you should avoid wearing heavy jewellery. Those long necklaces your mother gave you? Leave them for weddings. Simple and small earrings, coupled with a sleek chain and pendant, will work well for office wear. If you wear one heavy piece of jewellery, like danglers, make sure everything else is very simple. Ideally, avoid too much bling and wear minimal jewellery.