If there is one rule of dressing that seems to ring true, it’s “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”.
If you want to advance in your career, you need to present yourself in a way that delivers the impression that you are organised and put-together. Unfortunately, this is something that I didn’t learn in my early 20’s. I made the mistake of having very nice clothes for weekends and dates, but not having a classic staple professional wardrobe.
Career experts advise us to ignore fashion trends when creating a work wardrobe. Instead, buy classic items that will last a few seasons. You may want to stick with the following classic pieces listed below.
Suits and Jackets
Several suits with a jacket and / or a pencil skirt in neutral colours. If you are very tall or short, make sure you watch the length of your skirt. You want to ensure the length of the skirt is in proportion to your height. One or two suits in a subtle pattern such as a pinstripe and a soft colour speak volumes.
White button-down shirts are a classic. If you’re daring, you can also play with colour and pattern. Some bright blouses to wear under the neutral jackets can add a touch of personality.
Choose accessories according to your job. A simple pair of pearl stud earrings, or a nice watch, is a classic piece of jewelry. If you are younger, you can get away with wearing a bolder piece of jewelry to add some personality to your outfit. However, be sure to limit yourself to one or two pieces – don’t over do it. Simplicity is best.
Mix and Match Your Items
When assembling a wardrobe, look for things you can mix and match. You should be able to take the jacket of at least one suit and pair with the bottoms of another. That way you will have a variety of looks for a lower cost, maximising the money you spend on clothing.
The clothing you wear should always fit well. If something is too tight or too loose, people may think you don’t pay attention to the small details when giving a first impression. This is something a former manager used to point out about a particular dress of mine. I chose to ignore him at the time because I thought he was being smug, but in hindsight I now see the merit in his comment. He was actually trying to be helpful. We should take constructive criticism for what it is at times – advice. Some of these items will form a good base so you’ll always have something to wear.
They say to dress above your title. If you take pride in how you look and work hard, you’ll be surprised how people will take notice of you.
This article first appeared on Women in the Black.
Tamia Gallego is the founder and director of Women in the Black.