I often get enquiries from people who are going to an interview, or have just started a new job and need to be dressed appropriately. The working wardrobe can be a minefield and it can be so easy to give the wrong impression. One client I had recently had been a nurse for many years and then had started working in her husband’s company in charge of sales. Having always worn a uniform and therefore never having to worry about her working wardrobe she had gone out and bought some very high powered suits in black, with crisp white shirts. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t ‘her’ and she felt uncomfortable in these kinds of clothes. I was able to show her that you can still look smart and professional without having to go overboard with the power-dressing, and I put together a lovely capsule wardrobe for her, which suited her shape and colouring and, more importantly felt comfortable and appropriate.
Black is still the shade many of us default to for workwear because it is practical. It remains a trusty wardrobe staple in the City and some companies make it a requirement for staff dress. Black does look smart and shows that you mean business, but it can be very unflattering on certain colourings. So, whilst you may have a great looking black outfit, it could be making you look washed out and dull.
If company dress codes allow it, bring some colour into your work wardrobe. Wearing colours that look good on you will:
* Make you look more vibrant.
* Allow you to express a bit of your personality.
* Make your work outfits more interesting.
When you look good, you feel good and when you feel good you will feel more motivated and present yourself at your best. Black and other neutral shades like grey or navy can look great on some colourings but generally, they are not ‘feel good’ colours. They work well as work staples but you don’t want to fall into the ‘neutral’ wardrobe trap when you can achieve so much more with even a small injection of colour.
How much colour you can incorporate into your work clothes will depend on where you work. Tops and accessories are the safest options, you might get away with a colourful, smart skirt but colourful trousers could be a step too far in some work environments. It will also depend on your personality, but even the more conservative types can learn how to use colour to their advantage.
Certain colours send certain messages, so for particular work situations it is worth choosing your shades carefully. For example, red is an energising and empowering colour which can make you feel ready to take on anything (tricky client/presentation/request for a promotion) but wearing red head-to-toe can come across as overconfident and even intimidating. A top or even a splash of red in your outfit will do the trick. On the other hand, sometimes a red dress might be exactly what is required – you need to decide! Fuchsia is also a good energy boosting shade for work and it is more feminine than red. Bringing some femininity to your work wear is not a bad thing, but too much pink may come across a tad too girly, you still want to be taken seriously. If they suit you, the citrus shades (yellow, orange, lime) which are in abundance this season will instantly brighten up your look. Bold blues and emerald are also big this season and are safer colour options for work. Don’t overdo pastels in a formal environment, they don’t look professional enough. It should go without saying but, do avoid short-term fashion trends such as neon!
So, your colours for work need to do the following:
* Look great on you
* Send the right message
* Look current
Fashion offers plenty of colour choices, so there is no excuse for not finding flattering shades to add to your work outfits. Take a look at the Debenhams site for some great autumn work inspiration!