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Vogue & Style

The Office WARDROBE UPGRADE

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– Ever wondered how you can upgrade your fashion style and wish to add more flair and color to your everyday work style? Here is the good news! Your work wardrobe doesn’t have to be boring.

The daily struggle of getting dressed for work is real. Often, you find yourself staring into your closet at 6 a.m., waiting for an amazing piece to magically appear. When that doesn’t happen (which it never does), you reach for yet another boring button-up and the same pair of slacks you’ve already worn in the week.

Trust me, I’ve been there too. But there comes a time when your office wardrobe needs to be overhauled to give you a new sense of belonging. Here are some few tips on how to upgrade your office wardrobe.

Focus On Fit

The golden rule, in every tailored sense of style, is purchase clothing that fits you properly. Nothing destroys an outfit – whatever the dress code and no matter how expensive the clothes are – like an ill-fitting jacket, shirt or trouser, dress, skirt or blouse.

Some people tend to wear clothes too large, which looks baggy, while others insist on ‘skinny’ fits, which are too tight on their bodies.

The first secret to looking smart is sizing correctly. Therefore, we need to know our correct size and figure to aid us in purchasing the right apparel.

Build With Basics

Once you’ve nailed the fit, you can start building up your wardrobe. Begin with pieces that are easy to mix and match, so you can get the biggest bang for your buck, interchanging jackets with pants and shirts with ties for a different look each day.

After you’ve built a solid closet full of staples, you can start getting more creative with texture, color and pattern.

The Business Essentials

If you build your selection of essentials carefully, you’ll be able to achieve maximum levels of versatility with minimum levels of effort (which is crucial in the mornings when you haven’t even had your coffee yet).

Keep It Simple

Every office wardrobe must be kept simple with a solid white shirt and a neutral black, charcoal, or navy suit. No matter your suit or blazer color, a white shirt and one of these tie colors: a neutral black, charcoal, or navy as well will work every time.

Keeping it simple makes the wardrobe friendlier to visit in the morning and takes off every confusion of ‘what to wear’ on a particular day to the office.

In upgrading your office wardrobe, be mindful to get the more simple things that makes the best of you.

Types of Suit to have in the wardrobe

Kicking things off with fit, the jacket should sit square and snug on the shoulders (no peaking) and be cut slim through the sides and finish just below your butt.

Sleeves finish a few centimeters above the thumb join to the shirt cuff can be seen, just. See a tailor to sort all this out for you. Covering winter, summer and every temperature in between, there are three jackets one should consider. The first is a classic navy blazer, in a single breast design with peak or notch lapels.

In light wool, navy is less stuffy than black and is dark enough to flatter your physique, instantly smartening up any look. For cooler mornings, get a grey tweed blazer in grey.

It’s ideal from injecting texture (menswear’s answer to adding interest to a block color with a gaudy print), and will work well with other feel-good fabrics in your outfit such as silk knit tie and a chambray shirt.

There is never a bad time to wear a black suit. Even when we hit our two weeks of heatwave weather per year, you’ll still look amazing even if it does get hot under the collar. However, it can be easy to ruin all of those good intentions for a classy look with some ill-advised combinations.

It can be the problem with choice sometimes. Too much of it often leads to us making a poor decision than when just faced with a couple of variables. Unless you’re rocking suits every day (and if you are, ensure you have a good selection on rotation) then it is likely you’ll only don a suit for those special occasions.

If it only arises every once in a while, that’s even more reason to nail it. Dark suits are typically used for more formal affairs, including interviews, business meetings and unfortunately sombre events such as funerals.

If you aren’t a fan of navy blue, or you’re after another string to the sartorial bow, look no further.

Shirts

Ill-fitting shirts are common because we aren’t all models, and in proportion from neck to waist.

Again, get the fit right in the shoulders first, then, move across: the space between the collar and the neck should fit two fingers comfortably, and the shirt cuff should meet at the thumb join.

If your shoulders are broad, look for a slim-fit design or consider getting darts; two simple straight seams put in the back of the shirt to cinch in the billowy fabric. This guide to dress shirt weaves will help you decide what cloth is best for your climate and dress code.

In general, Oxford shirts are the tried and tested button-down, and come in many of colors, patterns. Solids are obviously the easiest to match, so focus at first on standards like white, light blue and pale pink, move into brighter colors and patterns such stripes, checks or gingham versions.

Always keep in mind that you should be more business than casual, so only wear a shirt if the collar can stand up without a tie.

Trousers

Due to a decrease in suit jackets in the office in recent years especially on Fridays, trousers are more important than ever. So, start investing now.

Chinos – in a mid-weight cotton – are your go-to choice for semiformal work wear for Fridays. Stick with classic colors – navy and camel – and opt for a fit that’s slim but not skinny.

Trouser separates, again in a multipurpose color, are the next step up, venturing into grey or beige. Menswear’s current obsession with cropped trousers should really be minimized (invest in one or two max).

If you’re after timeless, stick to regular length as trends come and go. Finally, jeans are appropriate – some workplace call for them. Go for something more on the formal end of the denim spectrum: mid-to-dark wash and absolutely no rips or heavy fading. Office jeans should also be slim, never skinny.

No shorts accepted please.

Shoes

The dress shoe classics are safest when it comes to your footwear. Loafers, Oxfords, Derbies, brogues and monk straps will all look dapper at the office.

And, will complement each piece mentioned above, basing your look as all is brought together. Casual Fridays may allow for a minimal, clean cut sneaker to be worn to work, but again, as with the jean-rule, check with your boss first.

For quality, leather is always better, stick to black, brown, oxblood and tan when choosing a color. In summer, experiment with color and even suede.

Final Word, Accessorize! Taking these essential office items, play around with color and print combinations and add in or take out traditional suit appendages for a relaxed look, that’s supercharged.

When it comes to accessories, we say less is more. Add a leather folio to your wristwatch, and do away with the tie, if you want to do a ‘business casual’. By knowing the rules, you can now bend them a little, and not look like a fool.

That’s how the Italians do it. Sprezzatura! Accessories have been piled into one category, as they are no-brainers (and don’t warrant their own dot point) really. Ties and pocket squares should be cotton or silk (the former knitted if you like) and never gaudy.

The belt – always leather with a metal buckle, and match it to the metal of your ring and watch, or tie clip and lapel pin. Quality cotton socks and underwear, in pure cotton, are sans question.

 

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Vogue & Style

Attention to your fashion details

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If you’ve ever watched the rehearsal process of a play, then you know just how powerful clothes are. Even in the very early stages of a project, professional actors will come to practice in certain clothing pieces that make them feel more like their character. Perhaps, in an old pair of shoes, a long and heavy skirt, or a bandana that helps them get just the right swagger, grace, or edge.

A few weeks later, when they’re closer to opening, they’ll have an actual dress rehearsal with their real costumes. It’s pretty amazing to see how the right clothes bring the performances up to a whole new level and transform the actor into the character!

As business professionals, we can actually learn a lot from this.

Like it or not, your clothes and presentation communicate volumes about you as a person. The question is not whether you care about fashion, it’s more about what you’re communicating intentionally or unconsciously through your fashion choices. Just as the actor in the right costume moves and speaks differently, so does the everyday person.

Your clothes tell a story about you. If you want to show that your work is clean, sharp, and to the point, you need to dress in clean lines, sharp creases, and (yes) points on your shoes and tie. Even the way you wear your glasses speaks volumes about you and your work!

 

What Do the Details Show?

Research shows that you can tell a lot about someone’s personality, politics, status, age and income just from looking at a photo of their shoes.

Did you ever notice that when President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of working class Americans, he would speak with no jacket and his sleeves rolled up? That silently and instantly communicated to the audience that he too was a hard worker.

You might remember when a 44 page dress code published by Swiss bank UBS went viral. The obsessive stipulations detailed everything from the sensible (“If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you”) to the downright invasive (employees were instructed on how to shower and apply lotion, how to wear their underwear, and told not to eat garlic during the week).

They may have been control freaks, but UBS got one thing right: every detail about your presentation communicates something.

When you’re dressing or grooming, consider what it says about you and whether it’s in line with the message you want to communicate. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about context. A tie can make you look reliable and rooted in tradition. This might be important at an investment firm, where clients want to know that you’re serious about stewarding their capital. But it can also come off as stuffy and resistant to change, which may be inappropriate for a tech startup.

 

Your Clothing Impacts Your Thinking

Of course, dressing smart is also important for your confidence and sense of self-empowerment. But your style does more than just send messages, to your mind or to others. New research shows it actually impacts how you think. Professional dress, one study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. So that tie might actually be switching on your creativity button.

“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style,” the study says.

Professional attire creates social distance. When we are more socially distant, we tend to think in more distant, abstract terms. In socially distant settings we address people by their title, for instance, rather than the more intimate first name.

“Even after controlling for socioeconomic status, students wearing more formal clothing showed stronger inclinations towards abstract processing.”

 

Thin-Slicing

Usually we process visual details instantaneously through a process called thin-slicing. That’s when the brain makes millisecond judgements based on new stimulus. It often happens without us even knowing. We might just get a feeling that we don’t trust someone, or that someone else is steady and reliable. We might not even know why.

That gut feeling, commonly called intuition or a first impression, is really part of the very fast-paced mental process of thin-slicing. It’s how we continually judge books by their covers, all day, every day.

So choose your personal presentation with care. Presentation includes not only your clothes, but your accessories, hairstyle, fragrance, posture, body language, tone of voice, and the level of energy with which you move and speak. Think of the person that you need to be in any particular situation. Then dress, groom, and accessorize in a way that helps you mentally step into that personality.

Are you marching in there to get things done? Put on something red, roll up your sleeves and speak in a commanding voice. Are you making social connections at a gala event? Go for suave, but not workplace formal. Dress to feel attractive. Speak in a smooth tone, and let one shoulder relax.

If you’re loafing around on a long weekend with half a box of pizza, you can probably get away with breaking out the frumpy comfortables.

Taking intentional command of how you dress and present is a good step in empowering yourself, accomplishing your goals, and living a more lucid life at the helm of your decisions. So pay attention! Remember, all the world’s a stage.

 

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