Dressing for a job is about being sophisticated and comfortable, while also following the office dress code. It’s fine to look at what coworkers are wearing to get some ideas, but you’ll be more satisfied wearing something you actually like—not merely what you think you should be wearing.
It is useful to create a personal uniform with the same type of combination for all your outfits. If you want to build a capsule wardrobe—a small collection of seasonally adaptable pieces you can mix and match, that can also be layered up or down—versatility is key. When in doubt about what colours to wear, black is the safest route. Other neutral colours tend to be equally acceptable, like grey, beige, olive, navy, and white.
You can never go wrong with a well-tailored suit, a key staple in business attire. Often referred to as the power suit (for women), this two-piece classic requires little to no effort when deciding what to wear in the morning. Typically, in a business formal environment, a suit is the uniform for both men and women, but it doesn’t have to be plain. There are plenty of styles and patterns to choose from.
A suit can be dressed down to business casual or just plain casual. Just opt for a t-shirt underneath the blazer and open-toed shoes. If the dress code allows, you can express a little bit of personality through a boldly coloured or patterned suit or with a highly textured fabric such as corduroy or velvet.
Invest in quality pants that are either high-rise or mid-rise. A sleek look would be straight-leg ankle pants, but you could also go for flared or wide-leg pants to make your outfit a bit more stylish. One classic combination is a blouse tucked into high-waisted skinnies or straight-leg pants. A bolder look would be a boxy blouse paired with wide-legs or bell-bottoms.
The pencil skirt—a timeless icon of sophisticated attire—goes perfectly with a blazer, a blouse, or even a t-shirt, and should have a permanent spot in your work wardrobe. Midi skirts are also currently trending, and they come in a large array of styles: A-line, pleated, wrapped, with a side slit, and more. Pair them with a nice heel or classy flats for a professional look.
Sheath dresses are perfect for the office, offering an accentuated, feminine fit. Acceptable in business formal offices, these dresses usually cut right above the knee or directly below it. Shops like Banana Republic, Club Monaco, J. Crew, Dynamite, and Ann Taylor offer some of the best professional attire.
The best part of an outfit is probably the shoes. Kitten heels and block heels tend to be easier on the feet, so you can work in them all day. Mules are also a popular, fashion-forward option. Otherwise, if you’re comfortable walking in high heels, go for it! Keep a pair of flats to sport on your way home.
Chunky heeled boots will serve you stylishly well in colder months, and your feet will be comfortable. Brands like Michael Kors, Aldo, Steve Madden, Naturalizer, and Kate Spade offer very comfortable shoes in every style.
Jewellery is the perfect addition to an outfit, especially a plain one. When it comes to jewellery, go for pieces that match or compliment each other. Invest in gold and silver accessories—not only do they go with everything, but they look elegant as well. Be careful not to accessorize too much as it might take attention away from you as a person.
Joséphine Mwanvua | Contributing Writer