Earlier this week, a friend of mine asked me if I would help her shop. Better yet, she said this: "I need to figure out more of the dress for the job you want." Well, some of my best girlfriends and I have been discussing this concept for years. And I love this idea. It takes some practice and time, but feeling confident in how you are presenting yourself is totally worth it.
Now, this is not to say dressing more professionally equates to wearing heels and a suit everyday. I certainly don't. It also doesn't mean you have to be a super trendy fashionista. Again, I'm not. But you do need to know how you want people to see you, what makes you feel confident, and how what you wear speaks to others. This doesn't have to be complicated, who has time for that? So here are a quick checklist for building that wardrobe.
What job do you want?
That's the first thing you need to know. How do people you know in that role dress? Is there someone in that role you or a role above that you look up to? If so, how do they dress? Now you don't need to ask them where they bought their whole outfit and copy it completely. You just want to take note: does the person in the role you want dress up in a blazer or dress for their presentations? Do they wear the same combo of blouse, pants, loafers with a statement necklace everyday? What's the patterns in how they put their outfits together, that's what you want to pay attention to and try to emulate in your own way.
Principles of a great work wardrobe
- An overall style in what you're wearing
- Pieces that work together to make multiple outfits
- Signature pieces that express your personality and individual style
- Accessories that polish off your look
My list of must-haves (from the ground up)
- a comfortable pair of booties
- a pretty pair of flats
- a great pair of knee-high boots
- a fun and classy pair of sneakers (for casual Fridays or on your feet days)
- a great pair of skinny black pants (or dark jeans if your office is casual like mine)
- ponte leggings (always look polished but feel like pjs)
- a pair straight leg or boot cut dark jeans or dress pants
- cords, khakis or jeans in a fun color (loving olive green right now)
- a pair of black opaque tights
- a pair of gray opaque tights
- a pair of black fleece lined tights
Dresses (or what I like to call, instant outfits)
- a sweater dress
- a knit dress (bonus points for stripes)
- a fun pattern dress
- easy neutral t-shirts (white, gray, black, stripes)
- a couple blouses in prints or solid colors (something a little drapey with with a unique detail always gets me)
- a couple neutral sweaters (pair with a great scarf or statement necklace)
- knit blazers (make any outfit look polished and you don't have to worry about wrinkles)
- a structured cardigan
- statement jewelry (for me it's necklaces or bracelets if i'm not going to be typing much that day)
- a colorful scarf
- classic stud earrings that go with everything
- a fancy hair tie and jeweled bobby pins (for those I need to put my hair up days)
This is not about fitting in. It's about presenting yourself to the world as you want people to see you. And most of all it should be fun.
What job do you want? And how do you dress for it?