A fashion-conscious woman is no stranger to the motto “dress to impress”. A personal style of dress is a way of expression. We want to stand out from the mainstream, emphasize our individuality and sometimes underline our current mood. Fabrics, cuts and color accents help us in this process, which often means years of development.
In the working world, our individuality seems to be limited at first, as certain clothing styles prevail that we usually cannot escape. So we look for advice on how to sift through the jungle of dress codes without losing our own style .
Find out how to do this and what to look out for the next time a certain dress code is called for with the following five explanations.
1. business wear – Great appearance in noble style
If you are invited to an event, meeting or conference and your boss or colleagues answer your dress question in business wear, your scope of action is clear: a chic suit or pantsuit with blouse is called for here. Basically, you should make sure that your shoulder area is always covered. The colors should be chosen discreetly and move either in the light range (white, beige, champagne) or cold range (gray, olive, dark blue) . Also, always make sure that the material is good. With this dress code, it’s well worth choosing a slightly fancier and classier blouse. Also, since you can’t carry around huge bags of “emergency equipment,” you may want to consider Scotchguard waterproofing so you can brush out stains in an emergency. If you do not want to do without your noble pencil skirt, the following applies: The skirt length must reach at least to the knee (also described as “knee-covering”) and they should wear an opaque
Wear nylon tights with it. Take a spare pair of tights with you, because runnings are an absolute “no-go”. The heel height of your shoes should not exceed 5cm. Peeptoes, high heels and spiked heels are not welcome, so better leave them in the closet.
As a rule, do not choose shoes on which you can not walk. A firm and secure gait is important for your performance and should not be disturbed by incorrect footwear. Small stud earrings, a wristwatch, subtle perfume and an updo, complete the perfect business look.
2. business casual – create elegant nonchalance
With this style, the blazer stays on! However, here you can definitely replace a blouse with a classy shirt or a knit, cotton or cashmere sweater. You also have more leeway in the choice of colors. Accordingly, in this style of dress colors such as lilac, red or green, if not wildly combined with each other, are quite allowed.
Always make sure your clothes are opaque, don’t have a deep V-neck and are good quality. In summer, lighter fabrics such as silk or linen are more suitable, while in winter you can resort to cotton or cashmere. When choosing makeup and jewelry, the following usually applies in the office setting: decide on a specific area you want to emphasize. So don’t wear makeup in garish, but nude shades and don’t wear countless accessories, but one or two favorite pieces. It applies, unlike sometimes in the private sphere: less is more.
When choosing your outfit, makeup and accessories, ask yourself: what signals do I want to send with my style? How do I want to present myself? Your footwear should always be adapted to the season. In summer, you may wear sandals or peeptoes accordingly, as long as only one area of the foot is shown (either heel or toes). Be sure to take care of your feet! In winter, you can resort to classy boots, as long as they are not overknees.
3. smart casual – harmonious combinations for everyday office life
With this style, you get to take your comfortable look one step closer.
Cloth pants and classy ¾ shirts are allowed here, as well as a combination of elegant jeans and, for example, a twinset. This is a kind of casual business outfit, in which you may combine regardless of the classic blazer. Pants with a top, an oversize cardigan and pumps would also be conceivable. Tight tops are allowed, but skin-tight ones are not, after all you are still going to the office and not to a party.
Apart from the classic white and black, you can also give free rein to your creativity when choosing the color of the pants. However, pay attention to a certain harmony, so that you do not look “dressed up”. It is important that you feel comfortable and appear modern, stylish, but always serious.
4. creative casual – personal branding made easy!
Do you work in areas such as marketing, social media, advertising or web design? Then you may clearly style yourself according to the motto: creative industry = creative clothing style.
Blouses, shirts, sweaters, as well as jeans, cotton skirts or chinos in all kinds of colors are allowed. The prevailing credo here is: Live your creativity. Of course, this is still an office outfit, so you should not appear like a bird of paradise. However, you can definitely wear (clean) sneakers, chucks or ankle boots with your outfit.
Open (neat) hair, small barrettes or chic and eye-catching glasses are also possible. Ultimately, your outer appearance should reflect your seriousness and personality, so pay attention here as well to what statement you want to make with your outfit.
5. casual wear – feel-good feeling without sweatpants
The term casual wear refers to elegant leisure wear. Despite that, you’d better leave short shorts, risqué T-shirts and those 90s leggings at home. Also short dresses, high heels and flashy make-up is not welcome here, even if it may correspond to your private taste. For example, a shirt or sweater that leaves one shoulder area uncovered is allowed. You can also wear a pencil skirt with a shirt or a chic sheath dress (You still have to pay attention to the knee length!) with this dress code. If you decide to wear pants, the blouse always belongs in the waistband. Also remember: Where there are belt loops, there also belongs a belt through, otherwise the outfit quickly looks a bit neglected.
Consider your personal comfort factor here as well, so you can relax and concentrate on your work in the office without having to constantly tug at your clothes.
The basic rule for any style is: neat, clean and eye-catching according to the occasion.
Staying true to your own style of dress while following the dress code is entirely possible and is considered an important career factor, so that not only your work but also your person leaves a lasting impression.
Inquired about clothing styles:
What dress code do you personally find most comfortable? Do you often have trouble choosing your wardrobe or does the perfect business look come easily to you? Have you come across any other looks that you initially had to get to grips with in your day-to-day office life, or do you know of any trends, such as Casual Friday, that you would like to incorporate into your weekly routine?
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.