By Anastasia-Maria Hountalas
Style is a form of self-expression that allows you to tell people who you are without speaking. It’s how you present yourself to others and, in many ways, it’s your first impression.
One of the challenges fashion-conscious professionals face is how to preserve your personal sense of style at work. Traditional ideas of work clothing and office dress codes can make it tricky to dress in a way that is both creative and office-appropriate.
While it may seem trivial at first glance, your personal style matters. It is an expression of your creativity, your taste and yourself. Here are five tips to help you preserve your personal style at work.
Introduce different silhouettes. One easy way to show your personal style at work is by exploring different silhouettes. Traditional workplace clothing sticks to fairly simple shapes (pencil skirts, straight-leg trousers, button-up blazers), so you can really transform your work wardrobe by introducing interesting silhouettes. For instance, instead of a pencil skirt, try a cropped tuxedo pant or pleated midi skirt. You can also get creative with exaggerated takes on traditional pieces, such as a blazer with bold shoulders, a wide-leg pant or a dramatic structured dress. By mixing different silhouettes into your closet, you can build a work wardrobe that reflects your personal style.
Dress for your shape. One of the toughest challenges when it comes to clothing is finding pieces that suit your shape. This can be especially frustrating when traditional work clothing is not flattering to your figure. Don’t settle for clothing that makes you feel frumpy. Explore new silhouettes, invest in pieces that make you feel confident and tailor clothing so that it fits properly. Many mid-range and upscale stores provide in-house tailoring, so ask a sales associate what services are available.
Play with texture. Since traditional work clothing sticks to a pretty predictable array of fabrics, mixing textures is a great way to get creative. A good rule of thumb is to balance one “non-traditional” element with one “traditional” element. For instance, try a leather pencil skirt, animal print loafers or a mohair cardigan. Another way to play with texture is to look for clothing with embellishment like embroidery, decals, lace, beading or studs. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even embellish your existing work pieces to make them perfectly suited to your style.
Colour is key. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a colour that perfectly suits your complexion. It’s the style equivalent of finding money in a random pocket. Take a peek into your closet – what’s your colour palette? Introduce those same colours into your work wardrobe and you’ll instantly feel more yourself.
Comfort matters. When it comes to your personal style, comfort matters. You need to feel comfortable with yourself and comfortable in your clothes in order to be your best self at work. If you feel naked without a pop of red lipstick, wear red lipstick. If full skirts make you feel like you can conquer the world, wear them. If you love leather, wear leather. Once you distill the basic elements of your personal style, you will be able to build a work wardrobe that makes you feel comfortable, confident and creative.
Anastasia-Maria Hountalas is a Toronto-based lawyer and founder of The Bossy One, a style and lifestyle blog for professional women. The Bossy One explores workplace style and discusses the challenges and rewards of being a woman professional. To join the conversation, visit www.thebossyone.com.
Pieces featured are available from Pink Tartan.