‘How do I begin to feel more confident at work?’ I am often asked.
Successful Women in business rarely look ‘thrown together’ or dishevelled and this is clearly no coincidence. I talk a lot about our image as an ‘investment in our ourselves’. Our appearance sends a positive message to our peers and colleagues about who we are and how we expect to be treated.
Dressing in a suitable and smart manner speaks volumes – “I know what I’m doing, take me seriously”. If we care about ourselves and the way we present ourselves it is perceived that we also care about the job we do and also for those around us.
First and foremost, it is worth thinking about the clothes we wear to the office each day. Few of us have the resource to look like a catwalk model but clothing in colour and styles that flatter your own characteristics will help increase your confidence, self-esteem and will undoubtedly command attention.
We should bear in mind that the clothes within our working wardrobe be considered as an investment in our future success. It works particularly well when we plan and gradually build a wardrobe of co-ordinated pieces – giving us maximum flexibility and ultimately saving valuable time. Allow me share some tips on how to get your working wardrobe just right for YOU.
Firstly we need to get the balance right. There is nothing wrong with wearing a striking pair of stilettos or skin tight leather trousers but you know in your heart of hearts that this does not project the right image in a corporate environment. Wearing revealing necklines or inappropriate clothing will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. Finding some office staples will give you a polished and professional look.
Instead, consider investing in a coordinating business suit such as the classic and versatile Arabella Jacket by Hobbs which can be paired with pencil skirt or matching shift dress or alternatively choose a simple but elegant knee-length Pacific Pencil Skirt from Diva Catwalk in a variety of colour options which can be paired with a jacket such as this Seed Dawlish option from Seed Fashion or from LK Bennett this beautifully fitted Judy Navy Jacket. For a less formal business look, try this ‘on trend’ Pussy Bow Blouse from Karen Millen paired with either a pencil skirt or smart trousers. One of my favourites this season however is the Camille Shift Dress in Navy/Camel from Hobbs, a great stand-alone piece which transitions from business to after work drinks.
With the loosening of business dress codes, you still need to consider your own working environment, your position within the organisation and of course the company culture. Our positions very often involve a ‘portfolio’ of roles and for those who are self-employed and working from home, it is still important to be clear about the image you wish to convey.
I have to admit that it can be difficult finding suits in colours other than black, navy and grey however colour is important here, don’t feel you have to stick to these conformist colours when it comes to the shirts or blouses you wear with them. Don’t be too afraid of colour. There are clever ways to infuse some personality to your working outfits. A day in the office should not be treated as a fashion parade but think classic cuts and add your own stylish twist to give your outfit the edge.
I should remind you here about the importance of your foundation garments – never underestimate the way your clothes hang when you wear good underwear. Remember also that whatever your business dress code, your lingerie should never be visible. You do not wish for your credibility or authority to be questioned. It is also worth mentioning that, although still officially Summer, bare legs in a formal corporate environment is not appropriate.
It is easy to inject some colour to your working wardrobe and still look professional. A subtle pink can enhance navy blue or grey whilst a rich emerald green works well with a variety of neutrals. It is a matter of choosing the colours and of course styles that are right for you. We can also use colour to project authority or approachability.
If you do not wear a suit for work, the same rules can be applied when wearing separates. Add a brighter cardigan to black and white or inject the colour to your accessories but a word of warning, no need to overdo them particularly if you lack the confidence to wear a brighter colour!
Selecting accessories for a business environment can be a challenge so wear your accessories wisely…simple, discreet and nothing too distracting.
If you do lack the confidence to wear bolder colours with your clothing you could try a brighter colour in a single piece of jewellery or a contrasting pair of heels which is usually sufficient to pull the look together. A good handbag such as the Camilla Leather Tote Bag by LK Bennett is another way to inject some personality and style into your work-wear wardrobe.
The key, I believe, to successful business dressing and maintaining a professional and interesting ‘look’ can be created by injecting some personality into your outfits. It may be a single item of jewellery, a belt or pair of shoes. I adopt the ‘less is more’ approach here but often find that such self-expression can help to boost your confidence.
Try these suggestions and see how they work for you. I hope that they lead to a more confident and assertive YOU!
You may find some inspiration on my Pinterest board here entitled ‘Business Wardrobe Autumn/Winter 2017’.
If however you are still at a loss with the colours and styles that are perfect for you and you need help to discover some ‘successful’ dressing tips for your professional or social wardrobe, then please get in touch. Better still you can call me on 07494 644788, I will be happy to hear from you.