Updated: Jun 15, 2020
After spending a few months in your “soft” clothes, you are now planning your return to work! Do you have to reconnect with your “ex-wardrobe”?
Build the perfect wardrobe
Whether you work in a law firm, a non-profit organisation or at home, it is important to have nice clothes to wear. Not because of their looks, but mostly because of how they make you feel. The ultimate work wardrobe should help you feel professional, confident and ready to take on the challenges of the day. In this article, we will give you the basic steps to follow to create a real wardrobe dedicated to working. The idea of shaping a professional wardrobe in harmony with your style and your company's dress code.
So we will first develop the basics of a professional dressing room for a large company, then for a start-up or a company where the dress code is more relaxed and, finally, the basics of a wardrobe to create if you work at home (as a student, freelancer, self-employed…). Of course, to facilitate reading and understanding, we will deal with these subjects separately. Indeed, in our view, they all require a relatively different approach.
The basics of a professional wardrobe
First, let's quickly review 3 criteria that the ideal work wardrobe must meet:
Your professional outfits should not only make you look good but also make you feel professional.
1. You must feel confident during your presentations (products, services, achievements, objectives, interventions, etc.) as during meetings, an interview with your supervisor or the management of your company.
2. Your professional clothing must be comfortable but also 100% functional. Indeed, you must be able to concentrate on your work without having to worry about a skirt that is too tight, a dress that is too daring or shackled, etc.
3. Your professional dressing room and the garments that compose it must also respect the culture of the company you represent (as well as its dress code) while reflecting your style.
Wardrobe for a business position
For most medium-sized companies with large organizations (Law firms, financial sector, etc.)
Build a wardrobe made of clothes that you can easily associate with each other and that you will only wear for work.
Keep your professional wardrobe separate from your usual wardrobe regardless of your style, if you work in an environment with a very strict and professional dress code, we invite you to fashion a completely separate work wardrobe. This will not only make it easier to prepare your outfits for your work and you will have less difficulty expressing your style during your free time. A double wardrobe will help you not find yourself, most of the time, with items that work perfectly at work but do not correspond to your private life.
If the corporate code wardrobe sounds like "dull" or "boring", you may need to add some new sources of inspiration to your list. At first, you can start by observing your office colleagues. How do they dress? How do they interpret your company's dress code? What elements could you integrate into your office outfits? If, unfortunately, none of the people in your company proves to be stylish, develops other sources of inspiration.
Create a wardrobe only reserved for business days
Once you have an overall idea of the type of look you want to wear to work, focus on finding a few versatile and quality key pieces that will frame your professional wardrobe. Think of perfectly fitting pants, stylish pencil skirts, some chic blazers and comfortable shoes. Since your actions are somewhat limited by the formal dress code of your company and your functions, make sure that the details are impeccable: fitted cut, quality fabrics, suitable colours etc. Instead of jumping on the first black blazer that comes along, try to find one that has a current style, perfectly adjusted to your figure and made of quality fabric. Then find a range of tops in different styles that you can mix and match with your key pieces. This selection, made up of various centrepieces and tops, constitutes your professional wardrobe. A wardrobe that you can decorate with accessories and unique pieces and to which you will devote a real budget and a lot of effort to keep it updated.
Use accessories and details to personalize your professional wardrobe
Accessories are a good way to personalize your office look without breaking the dress code set by your status or your company. Feel free to go back to what helped you find inspiration for your professional style. Then make a list of everything that could add colour or depth to your outfits: a few bracelets, a necklace, a belt or an elegant watch…
Casual-chic wardrobe (chic and relaxed)
For start-ups, small businesses….
Organise a selection of more formal key pieces to match your usual clothes
Analyse the styles of your co-workers
If you work in an environment that does not have a dress code in the literal sense, you have a lot more freedom to dress. However, even if there is no formal dress code, most companies have a handful of unexpressed rules or guidelines that everyone abides by. These can sometimes be complicated to understand when you take your first steps in the business. So, if possible, whether it is to dress to make a good impression during your recruitment or for your first day, look around to see what the employees are wearing. Is there no dress code? Do the employees walk around in shorts and flip flops on the premises? Or does everyone seem to be sticking to a casual yet chic look anyway? The casual-chic style means that you can avoid the costume but still want to look refined. Also, at the office, you will avoid bustier dresses, too short skirts & flip flops ... To establish your work outfits, browse your wardrobe piece by piece. Choose all the clothes you can already wear in your company. You will certainly find tops, blouses, beautiful jeans, pants and some elegant skirts. These clothes are the dual-use pieces that you can wear in the evening or on the weekend and that will be perfectly suited to more formal choices for your working-girl look.
Buy some extra clothes for work
Once you have identified the items of clothing that can be duplicated, you need to analyse what you have to buy to fill the gaps.
Add a few options to your outfits
Always think of the most important groups: stockings, pants, skirts, dresses, shoes, jackets and tops. If your current style is already close to casual chic, you may only need an elegant blazer jacket, pretty blouses and shoes suitable for work. Additional Tips: Even if your business dress code is chic and casual, it is a good idea to have at least one or two traditionally "professional" clothes on hand. That way, you won't be caught off guard if a special event arises. Imagine you have a meeting with a major investor, a conference etc. A blazer, pants or a matching skirt, pretty shoes and one or two dress shirts could be very useful.
Note examples of outfits
Once you've selected all of your key pieces, take the time to develop a few examples of workwear. This will allow you to avoid the stress of the “last minute”. If you have not already done so, we invite you to arrange your dressing room so that it meets the 3 essential criteria of your new professional wardrobe.
Wardrobe for those who work at home
Freelancers, students, self-employed…
Invest in comfortable clothes that will make you feel comfortable and ready to work.
Understand that even your professional wardrobe deserves your attention
Yes, you can wear almost anything you want. Of course, you can talk on the phone with your customers wearing your pyjamas. It's your right. However, just because no one sees you doesn't mean that your professional wardrobe shouldn't be important. If you take the 3 basic criteria that a professional wardrobe must meet, two of these criteria apply to your situation:
You want your clothes to give you confidence and make you feel professional.
You want these clothes to be comfortable and functional.
Besides, you also expect your clothes to allow you to be in the right frame of mind to work. Going to work is always easier when you do what most people do when they get to the office: Get up at a certain time, take a shower, get ready, dress and sit in front of a desk which is intended only for your professional activity. These rituals are important to be effective. And, if you work from home, you must create these rituals yourself.
Invest in comfortable clothes
Even if you can favour your comfort, make sure you have nice T-shirts, long cardigans, fitted pants, loose shirts etc. Putting on some makeup and some jewellery in the morning will also allow you to prepare for the unexpected such as a last-minute run, a zoom call or an appointment scheduled during the day…
Have a few professional outfits on hand
Even if you work from home, you will probably have to leave the house from time to time for client meetings and business events. So, make sure you have a few more formal outfits in your wardrobe for these occasions. Browse your calendar to get an idea of how often you need a professional look. Then create a small set of pieces that you can combine. For example, pants, a simple blazer, blouses and a few heels.
Good luck ladies!
Elegance is the only beauty that never fades. – Audrey Hepburn