I want to give you an idea of the basic look you’re going for when dressing for success at the office.
Here is what you want to have—not just to set a foundation for your wardrobe, but for your entire closet. You’ll impress the living daylights out of your colleagues, you’ll look like a million dollars and it will appear like you’re headed to become the next CEO of the company. I’ll describe what this look is and then you check back with us each month for our Dress for Success Shopping to make it a reality.
First and foremost, go for black. If you’re one of those rare people who can’t wear black, then midnight navy is your best bet. Otherwise, black is your hands-down, go-to color for the professional environment. Think of building your wardrobe for the office is like building a house. You wouldn’t start putting the windows and doors on before the foundation is laid and the walls are up because you need that foundation from which to build. So, think of building your professional appearance in the same manner. We recommend you find your way to my book, Style Essentials: Building Your Ultimate Wardrobe (you can buy it online by clicking here), because it will help you understand this concept even more.
All of the pieces I’ll be talking about are hardcore designer wear. There will be no Theory, Tory Burch, or any other mid-range brand. That means you need to really invest in these pieces and go for true designer. And don’t worry, I will help you find these pieces at a more palatable price.
To begin, I recommend black, slightly flair-legged pants. This is the number one silhouette to own because they’re flattering on virtually everyone. If you’re more inclined (or have gorgeous legs) a fluted, A-line, or pencil skirt would be fabulous as well. The caveat to the skirt option is that you must wear it with either bare legs or black tights.
For shoes, I would highly suggest pointy toe pumps of any heel height; if you’re very tall you can get away with a ballet flat but for the rest of us, 2″ to 4″ pumps with a stiletto or kitten heel will be your best friends. As far as the material goes, I would purchase patent or suede because they have a richness that kid leather just doesn’t possess. And if you’re in pants during the colder winter months and want to add a pointy toe ankle boot to your wardrobe, they can be a fabulous alternative. Do not chop up your look however by trying to wear these ankle books with a skirt or a dress. It is neither professional nor attractive and will make your legs look stumpy, regardless of the fact that it is trending. I predict that wearing ankle boots with skirts and dresses will be one of those trends that in future years will cause people to cringe when they see themselves in pictures wearing them. Trust me on this. People truly begin and end at your feet so put your best foot, and shoes forward.
When it comes to jackets, the length should come to below the backside, almost mid-thigh or anywhere in between in order to better enhance your shape. You want to avoid a boxy shape by going for a silhouette that comes in a bit at the waist and follows the lines of your body (there are a good number of pictures to illustrate this point in my book. You know what the say… a picture is worth a million). Simple underpinnings are the only way to go. By this I mean go for a turtle neck or a jewel neck (no cleavage—this is not a time to be showing off the goodies); black, white, or cream depending on your coloring. Yes you can do camel and attempt greys, but the three colors I listed above make it simple and easy to get dressed and look polished day-in and day-out. We’re talking neutrals no matter what. No color.
Now you want to top off your look with the right bag and there are many good ones from which to choose. They’re an investment piece for sure, but if you choose well you’ll have them for a lifetime.
Your accessories include a pearl, diamond, or gold stud for your ears; no dangly earrings or hoops. And for your wrist, you’ll want a great investment watch, period. End of story. No other jewelry.
Remember this professional look has the ability to catapult your entire career. Just ask yourself, do I want to keep the job I’ve had forever or am I looking to grow and expand within this company or even move elsewhere. To make your end goal a reality, you need to up your game with your look.