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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

Wearing the right outfit for the office in 2019

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Suit or shirt? Skirt or slacks? Tights or bare legs? Sandals or pumps? These are the questions you might find yourself asking each morning as you select work attire in 2019. And, depending on the dress code your company enforces, you could be spot on – or woefully off-base in your fashion choices.

According to a survey by Salary.com, only 55% of workplaces have a dress code. If your new employee orientation didn’t cover it, contact HR to ask about the official policy. Even if your orientation manual tells you to dress “business casual,” though, what exactly does that mean? What is acceptable – and what isn’t?

Official Dress Codes for 2019

There are typically four types of corporate dress codes: business formal, business professional, business casual, and casual. Here are some general tips for both men and women for each category. Stick close to the basics and ensure that you’re always dressed appropriately in this 2019.

BUSINESS FORMAL

If you work in a law firm, regularly meet with executives, or otherwise hold a high-level position, you might be asked to come dressed “business formal” or in “boardroom attire.” This is the highest level of professional dress.

For Men:

  • A tailored one-, two-, or three-button suit in a solid, neutral color like black, gray, or navy.
  • Ties and other accessories should be both modest in color and style – solid, brighter colors (a red tie, for example), or patterned muted neutrals (a navy plaid tie) – as well as high-end in quality. No novelty ties, such as sports team patterns.
  • White, collared button-up shirts.
  • Shoes should be closed-toe oxfords in brown or black, not loafers.
  • Hair should be well-groomed. In general, short hair is most acceptable.
  • Nails should be clipped short, clean, and buffed. Don’t be shy about getting regular professional manicures.

 

For Women:

  • A well-cut pantsuit or skirt suit in a conservative neutral color, such as black, navy, or brown.
  • White button-ups with a collar.
  • Closed-toe heels in a neutral color such as taupe, black, grey, or brown.
  • Tights, preferably in a dark color.
  • Conservative accessories – for instance, diamond studs rather than chandelier earrings.
  • Well-groomed hair worn in a conservative cut, such as a bob or soft layers.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.
  • Well-groomed, neutral nails that are either clear coated, or painted with a beige-toned polish.

 

BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL

A step down from business formal, business professional clothing is still neat, conservative, and traditional, if a little more loose when it comes to color or pattern. Business professional is also sometimes called “traditional business.” Expect to present a professional appearance every day, injecting personality into your outfits with your accessories and color choices.

For Men:

  • A one- or two-button suit. Suit colors should still be conservative, but you have more leeway with pattern – a conservative stripe or check, for instance.
  • Pressed, lighter-colored dress pants worn with a sports jacket.
  • Conservative ties, but feel free to introduce colors and patterns. For example, you can feel free to wear a blue-striped, professional tie, but no novelty ties.
  • High-end accessories, such as watches (preferably silver, gold, or white gold) and cuff links, if necessary.
  • Shirts should be collared button-ups, but can be colored, as long as the color is fairly conservative. Blue, burgundy, or gray all work well.
  • Shoes should be conservatively colored oxfords or polished loafers in black or brown.
  • Hair and nails should be groomed, but check with HR on acceptable hairstyles.

 

For Women:

  • A suit or skirt, top, and jacket in a conservative neutral color, such as black, brown, or navy.
  • Collared button-up shirts that may be any solid color.
  • Dark or nude-colored hosiery.
  • Closed-toe pumps in a neutral color such as black or brown.
  • Larger, more noticeable jewelry – as long as it’s not distracting. Think along the lines of one statement necklace or a chunky watch. High quality is preferred.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.
  • Well-groomed, neutral nails. May be clear coat or beige.
  • Hair should be neat and groomed, but check with HR on acceptable cuts and colors.

 

BUSINESS CASUAL

Business casual is one of the more common dress codes for a certain group, the media and advertising firms, allowing employees to add personality to their workwear without looking unprofessional. In a business casual setting, you can expect a lot more in the way of color and accessories.

Still, the term “business casual” can mean different things to different organizations, so it’s always best to check for guidelines with HR instead of making assumptions. Note that sometimes business casual can also be called “executive casual.”

For Men:

  • Can wear colored, collared button-ups in any color. Conservative patterns such as checks or stripes are acceptable too, worn with or without a tie.
  • Ties should still be conservative in pattern. Avoid novelty ties, and choose patterns like dots, stripes, or checks. Most colors are acceptable.
  • Pullovers and sweaters worn over collared shirt. Choose solid, striped, or another conservatively patterned sweater. Primary and jewel-toned colors are best.
  • Dressy slacks, such as black dress pants or pressed khakis in the summer, worn with or without a sports jacket.
  • More casual accessories, such as a leather-band watch.
  • Shoes can be oxfords, loafers, or another comfortable yet dressy choice, in brown or black. Avoid sneakers.
  • May offer more leeway for hairstyles, allowing for longer hair (check with HR).
  • Nails should be clean and short.

 

For Women:

  • Business separates, rather than a full suit – a skirt worn with a cardigan or jacket, for example.
  • Colored shirts and blouses, rather than mandatory collared button-downs. Choose solid colors, or muted patterns like stripes or checks, and avoid low-cut shirts or bright patterns.
  • Slacks and khakis.
  • Larger jewelry, such as a statement necklace or large cuff-style watch. Doesn’t necessarily need to be the highest quality – gemstones and other casual materials are fine. Scarves may also be appropriate.
  • Shoes may be comfortable flats and loafers, as well as pumps, but should remain closed-toe. Can be any color, although black, brown, red, navy, and gray are among the most appropriate.
  • Nails should be well-groomed, but there can be a few restrictions on colors.
  • Hair can be more casual, with less conservative colors and even more noticeable (chunky or high-contrast) highlights generally acceptable. It should still be neatly styled, such as blow-dried, or in a ponytail or bun.

 

CASUAL

If you’re fortunate enough to work in a casual office, the trick is to avoid getting too casual or creative with your dress. According to the survey by Salary.com, your coworkers make specific judgements regarding your capability based on your clothes, which may extend to employers as well. By arriving to work in casual clothes that are still neat, pressed, and appropriate for the type of work you do, you can make sure that a casual dress code isn’t holding you back.

For Men:

  • Casual pants and slacks, but never jeans unless stipulated as acceptable by HR. If jeans are permitted, dark-wash, straight-cut only.
  • Collared polos or crew-neck sweaters and pullovers. The majority of colors and patterns are okay as long as they’re not a novelty pattern, such as a sports team logo.
  • Casual accessories, such as brightly colored watches.
  • Shoes that are clean. Sneakers are usually acceptable, as are loafers.
  • Hair and nails can be more casual. Nails should remain short and clean, and casual offices generally allow for longer hairstyles and ponytails.

 

For Women:

  • Nicely fitted tops and blouses, although shirts should never be tight or revealing.
  • Slacks or skirts in more casual fabrics, such as cotton. If denim is permitted, dark-wash only. Avoid overly casual denim cuts, like cutoffs or flare jeans.
  • Skirts should remain at knee-length.
  • Open-toed shoes are permitted. Avoid casual shoes such as sneakers or flip-flops.
  • Casual accessories, such as scarves. Larger rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces are fine, and may be of any quality.
  • More leeway with hair length, style, and color. More adventurous styles and colors are typically fine.
  • Nails can be painted in brighter colors, or with any type of pattern. Avoid novelty characters or designs, or limit “louder” designs to one nail only.

 

In office dress codes, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and dress a little more formally than necessary until you have a better grasp of what is and isn’t acceptable at work. If your business clothing mantra is “clean, tailored, and professional,” it’s pretty hard to go wrong, regardless of the environment in which you work.

What type of dress code does your office use?

 

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