Recently we covered how to dress with confidence at work. It’s not a frivolous topic; your confidence is directly tied to your performance. It’s part of what people notice first about you. Of course, you have to have great skills and good ideas, but your image is also a critical part of how you’re perceived and how confident you feel.
If you’re wondering if your personal style could use an update, it probably could. Especially if you’re contemplating a career change or you’re breaking into a new industry. You may need an update to help your outside appearance match your inner energy – to help you make the transition from college student to serious professional, for example. Whether you’re a new graduate starting your career or a veteran in your field, there are some easy ways to give your look a refresh.
Your style will depend in part on your career choice and the type of company you work for. The dress code for a conservative financial institution will be dramatically different from a tech startup, just as a creative ad agency will differ from a social justice nonprofit. This is the first consideration when it comes to styling yourself for your profession.
Conservative style – Just because you work in a professional and serious field doesn’t mean your outfits have to be boring or lack personality. Keep an open mind when it comes to the usual suit or dress. You can incorporate bright colors, fun patterns on a tie, or a dress with on-trend features or eye-catching flats with cut outs. Watch what successful executives wear and see if you can merge the best elements of their style and your own taste. You’ll probably notice them wearing mostly serious colors, like black, navy, white and gray, and conservative cuts and skirt lengths. You can add statement jewelry and trendy accessories to liven up your look.
Creative style – A lot of startups and creative companies allow for a more relaxed atmosphere, which includes the dress code. It’s important that you know the difference between your off duty look and your office look, even if your company culture allows jeans and casual clothes. Working for a creative or more relaxed company allows for a lot more flexibility but it’s still important to stay appropriate in the office. Jeans should be in good repair (dark denim looks more professional – keep the ripped and faded look for the weekend.) If you’re wearing a tee shirt, make sure it doesn’t have a message that undermines your professionalism. Keep a simple dark blazer at the office. You can slip it on to dress up your casual look for meetings or client visits – you’ll be able to look polished and pulled together at a minute’s notice.
Accessorize yourself – If you’re working to make your style more fresh and modern, or make yourself look like an up and coming professional, accessories are a great way to personalize or modernize your professional look. It’s worth investing in purses, briefcases, quality pens, and leather portfolios; buy the best quality you can afford. They will last for years, and people notice them more than you think. High quality accessories signal your taste and attention to detail and can add personality to an otherwise conservative look.
Quality eyeglasses can add a quirky, trendy and smart look to any outfit. With affordable brands like Warby Parker coming into the market, you can afford to switch up this accessory any day of the week. Jewelry can add an interesting touch to any outfit. Accessories like these bold earrings from Nordstrom or funky ties like these from Zazzle serve as statements about your style and conversation starters as well.