For many years, looking professional meant wearing stuffy suiting and basic button-downs. Your favorite pieces were reserved for weekend outings with your girlfriends or date night with that special someone. But dressing for work was basically bound to cramp your style. Fortunately, that’s not so anymore. With more offices loosening up their dress codes, and more women boldly taking some style risks, it’s now entirely possible to look professional yet chic at the same time.
So, how does one maintain their personal style while also appearing polished enough for the office? Read on for some helpful styling hacks that will make you look boardroom-ready.
- Smooth It out With Shapewear
Guess what? Some silhouette-smoothing shapewear isn’t just for those LBDs at cocktail hour — it can also come in handy under your work outfits. You’ll be amazed at what a shaping bodysuit can do under a curve-hugging pencil skirt, or a high-waisted seamless thong can do under a form-fitting dress. The purpose of shapewear is to eliminate bulges, visible seams and other unsightly issues that can compromise your look. These handy little pieces can give you clean lines, which definitely contribute to a polished appearance. Plus, shapewear is sure to make any ensemble hang on your body better, and therefore, automatically look more flattering.
- Sport Some Chic Stockings
Legwear often gets neglected when we’re putting together an outfit, but the fact is, it can totally transform any look, whether you’re wearing a dress or a skirt suit. Opt for classic nude or black hosiery if you’re rocking a printed dress or skirt, or, if you’re wearing a simple solid shift dress, you can add some visual intrigue with textured or patterned tights.
- Accessorize Simply
The right jewelry and other accessories can definitely make any outfit look even more polished, but the best policy to adhere to is: less is more. You can never go wrong with a pair of classic crystal or pearl stud earrings or a tasteful metal bracelet. A scarf in a timeless pattern is also a safe bet. If you do want to rock a bold pair of statement earrings, be sure that you’re wearing a super understated outfit to balance things out. The same goes for grooming, too: when it comes to your makeup, opt for neutral eye shadows and understated lip colors. The idea, after all, is to look put-together and professional, and dramatic shades can be distracting when you’re giving a presentation.
- Add a Pop Of Color
If you’re wearing a neutral, solid outfit, don’t be afraid to infuse a little color into your outfit to achieve a slightly more fashion-forward look. For example, a vibrant red belt can totally transform a black dress, and a pair of bright cobalt heels look stunning with gray suiting. These are the little touches that not only show off your personality and unique sense of style, but also are bound to turn a few heads in that board meeting.
- Mix and Match
If you work in a traditional office, you’ll likely want to invest in some well-fitting suiting. That could mean skinny slacks, pencil skirts, or trousers with corresponding blazers. Ultimately, finding the right suiting for you depends on evaluating your personal tastes as well as your body type. But once you’ve found a few options to add to your wardrobe, don’t be afraid to mix and match them — as long as you find combinations that work. For example, a gray blazer looks killer with a black skirt, and the contrast can be far more interesting than an all-black ensemble. You might pair a white blazer with a camel skirt for a fresh spring-ready look. The point is, you can get creative — and also get a lot more bang for your buck — by creating a slew of different combos from just a few sets of suiting. And while we’re on the subject of suiting, don’t hesitate to take yours to the tailor. It’s well worth the extra cost, as fit is supremely important to ensuring you achieve a polished look.
- Embrace Classic Silhouettes
There’s a reason why the pencil skirt, button-down blouse and sheath dress never go out of style: they’re all universally flattering and versatile enough to work for a wide variety of occasions. That versatility comes in handy when you have to jet from the office to after-work drinks with your girls, too: you can easily take any of these pieces from day to night with a simple change of shoes or accessories. So don’t be afraid to add some of these classic silhouettes to your wardrobe and then make them your own. A pencil skirt looks decidedly cool with a graphic T-shirt and patent flats. A button-down can be tucked into dress shorts with a blazer for a summer twist on workwear. And a sheath dress gets a contemporary upgrade with a waterfall cardigan and a statement necklace.
There’s something to be said for taking style seriously — particularly in the workplace. The way you dress affects how you’re perceived by your coworkers, managers, and clients, and in putting in the extra effort to look professional, you’re more likely to be seen as such. Keep these style hacks in mind to maintain a polished appearance, and who knows? That next raise could be right around the corner. At the very least, you’ll look worthy of a promotion.