Accessorizing The Corporate Look
The only constant about fashion is that it keeps changing. New brands, new styles, new fabrics, new designers; there is always something new on the market.
But, if you find yourself in an office from 8am to 5pm, the only new things you may get are those you get as gifts. Aside not having ample time to shop, shopping for work is quite restricting since certain fashion do not fit “the corporate look”, and these are some reasons why people turn to accessorize, especially to switch up an old look.
“Any opportunity to adorn oneself is human, and accessories are an easy way to do it.” - Marc Jacobs, “Sometimes simple accessories are all you need when your dress speaks for itself.” -Jenny Packham, “Cute accessories always help bring out your outfit and pull it all together.” – Ciara, “To me, accessorizing is the most fun part of an outfit. While I don't think you can't rely on accessories to make a dress that isn't working work, I do love jewelry and handbags more than anything.” - Anna Kendrick, “Accessories are everything. To me, they're more important than the clothes.” - Rachel Zoe.
These are quotes from people of various backgrounds and professions augmenting the importance of accessories. Narrowing our conversation to the corporate environs; because of the restriction that comes with picking something for work, most people normally rely on small and simple accessories to express themselves. But in the corporate world, one should be mindful of the message they send across purely based on their outfit. It’s all about the ultimate look and If that small piece of jewelry will change what your brand projects, it is best to avoid it. Before you go avoiding all accessories however, here are some suggestions on how to pick out the right accessories for the corporate world. But of course, some of your accessories won't make the cut.
Before we get it all juggled up, we’ll take it step by step in ascending order, gradually as though we were experimenting on a mannequin.
The lower extremity (leg);
Men: Pick out a pair of socks that blends with your trousers. Black socks often cut across in spite of the colour of the trousers. Lately, people wear ‘mixed rainbow’ brightly coloured socks and don’t cover it up properly. It draws too much attention to the feet. In a corporate world, one should not draw too much attention, especially to their feet. The only thing worthy of attention in the work environment is one’s work. That trend emanated from the fashion and creative world and for brand’s sake should remain there.
The type of footwear matters in the corporate world and that is why some men stick to wearing their neatly polished basic black or dark brown leather shoes. You can’t really blame them after all because they are “one size fits all.’’ Another issue that cannot be lost sight of is the size of the shoe you wear. In the corporate world, you should want to look confident, sharp, comfortable and trustworthy but chances of achieving all these with ill-fitting shoes on are slim. As aforementioned, and for reiteration purposes, fashion trends change and so one needs to ensure that their corporate style is from this century. Sandals or any kind of footwear that exposes your toes and soles should definitely be avoided in the corporate world. Some modern sneakers, albeit fashionable do not make the cut for the corporate look and should definitely be avoided. Basically, stick to leather shoes or loafers and don’t forget to do that extra check to ensure they are not worn out.
Women: Fortunately, women don’t have much to do with socks, except of course the small ones they wear in their flat shoes but are fully covered.
Here is where the problem is, the shoes. Black and dark brown are the basic colours for the corporate office, but if one decides to step out of the box, the darkest shade of your favourite colour or small pattern of two dark colours are acceptable. Excessive strips, bright colours, uncomfortable shoes, very high heels or tops, worn-out noise-making footwear should definitely be avoided. If the footwear you want to wear has any of these problems, please save the uneasiness and slight to severe embarrassment and discard them. And still considering the leg area, do well to hide any kind of anklet if you wear them.
Middle extremity (Waist)
Men: Drawing attention to your waist area is a bad idea in the corporate office; co-workers and clients shouldn't be staring at your waist first thing when they see you. A black, brown or dark brown belt is always appropriate. Avoid anything bright or too colorful around your waist. Your belt should not be worn out as it doesn’t make your fit look good. The hook of the belt should have a “corporate look”, no skeleton skull hooks in the office and remember, simplicity is the best. And for scoring extra cool points sake, it’s advisable to match your belt and footwear colour.
Women: Proper fitting black or dark brown belt on your neatly ironed trousers or skirt (if necessary) is all you need, attention to your waist at work is not necessary. Not too bright, fanciful, noisy or worn out. In the corporate world, little is much.
The trunk (chest)
Corporate fashion is basically about colour combination. A dark shade or small pattern, fastidiously made flying tie held in place with a pulchritudinous tie clip is just stunning. Or just go with a simpler black or dark shaded flying tie. Now, about the pocket square; mostly the same fabric as your tie or something similar is preferred. If you choose a black-tie, go with a tad bright to make your shoe appear less dark especially if you wear a dark suit.
Your big or shiny necklace or chain won’t make the cut, sorry. A nice simple vest that complements the final look depending on how dark or stunning could pass for the corporate world. Not forgetting a small but fashionable brooch on the collar of the suit, nothing too big or extremely bright. All of these ‘rules’ also apply to ladies. With the scarf, always remember that simple is good.
Be it a handbag, laptop bag or backpack, always remember that the darker the better. Black, navy blue or dark brown is highly advisable, especially for men. But with the influx of beautiful trendy handbags for women bags in the fashion scene, restricting ladies to only black or brown designs might sound a tad cruel. Room should be given to spice it up. Just don’t over-do it and remember, in the corporate world; little is more! It is not advisable to draw too much attention to where you keep your valuables. A dark shade of your favourite designer bag could make the cut.
Cufflinks, bracelets, wristwatches, and rings are accessories for the arm. For this part of the body, we can’t stress “little is much” enough. Something less shiny, small and trendy on your wrist will take you to a whole new level of glam. Be mindful of the material used in making these pieces, you do not want to irritate your skin. And please if you are going to put on a watch, make sure it works. “Oops my watch just stopped working” is fast becoming a tired narrative. With rings, unless they are for matrimonial reasons, do well to avoid big and extremely shiny rings in the corporate office, or avoid wearing too many rings. You sure do not want to look like a pimp or you work at a jewelry store.
The Trunk (Head)
We are finally on the uppermost part of the body, the head. Unless you work in a fashion, media or creative space, kindly avoid the following: long or big shiny earrings, more than one earrings on one earlobe, extremely bright childish spectacles albeit trendy, excessively accessorized earpiece and Bluetooth devices, rings in and on the nose and very colourful hairstyles with its many apparels. The whole idea is to look professional, smart, confident, comfortable, business-minded, and most importantly, powerful in the corporate world. Anything that makes it impossible to attain these, can’t and should not make the cut.
There are other things that most people do not consider accessories, but why don’t we stretch a little further; shall we? Nail styles and polish add to the ultimate look. Neat, simple and clean nails are better.
You may not have paid attention to this, but phones, are now accessories. This is extensively because we have them all the time. That is why it must look as professional as possible; no outlandish phone cases.
Others like tattoos, makeup, hairstyles, and handkerchief can be argued as not considered accessories, but once you decide to step into the corporate world, keep in mind that every little thing on you conveys a message, so why not ensure that you are conveying the right message. In business presentations, conferences and summits, all these simple ‘rules’ are applicable to make you the reliable candidate for a job. Your accessories reflect your personality and mirror your many moods. If the mood is right, accessorize right. But remember if your outfit is bad, you will definitely have the fashion police (petty gossips) on your neck.
With all of these at your fingertips, why not enter the corporate world with power? And remember, “Confidence is the best accessory. It can make or break an outfit,” - Stacy London.