I learned a long time ago that what one wears really does matter. If a woman chooses to wear mini skirts, flip flops, and tight tanks to work in an office, she must realize that she will not be taken as seriously as the woman who takes the time to dress professionally. Remember, the woman who wears a fashionable suit, a solid color shell, and coordinating accessories will most likely make the sale over her competitor (who showed up to a meeting wearing yoga pants, a sports bra, and a pony tail).
Dressing to project a professional image doesn’t have to be expensive. When a young woman first begins her career, she may need to think of clever ways to access the clothing she needs. For example, Good Will offers gently used dress slacks in all sizes for only a few dollars per pair, plus on special days, all clothing sells for half price. Investing in black, brown, navy, creme, and grey slacks will provide a great base for a successful office wardrobe.
Purchasing office wear out of season also offers an inexpensive way to build one’s wardrobe. When it’s early summer, look for quality winter cardigans, dress boots, and warm dresses to be on clearance. In contrast, late December will be prime time to pick up sleeveless shells and dress sandals. The key to successful out of season shopping is to make it a habit to visit the clearance section of your favorites stores.
And don’t forget your mother and grandmother! Young women who have mothers and grandmothers (or even aunts) who sew should take advantage of their talents. My wonderful mother, who was a whiz with a needle and thread, made much of my first office wardrobe after I graduated from college. She made A line skirts out of gorgeous fabrics, she fashioned fabulous silk scarves, and she even knitted luxurious sweaters. Although a woman may not have access to such free services, she still may be able to have mom or grandma assist with alterations!
Finally, take advantage of the fact that people don’t usually remember what one wears on the bottom half. Take those basic slacks, and pair them with different tops, sweaters, and blouses for tons of different looks. I guarantee that no one in the office will notice that you wore your black pants twice in one week!
As a woman who has worked in offices for over 30 years, I can say with authority that dressing professionally will pay off in the long run. Not only will the boss take a woman more seriously if she dresses professionally, but this woman may have a better chance of becoming the boss herself if she continually looks the part. For these reasons, vow to dress for success!
Three Office Fashion Don’ts
1. Don’t wear real fur anywhere on an outfit.
2. Don’t wear shirts that show too much cleavage or skirts that reveal too much leg.
3. Don’t ruin a professional look by wearing too much perfume. (Some people have allergies!)