You should never judge a book by its cover, but sadly, the corporate world does not work like that. You do not have to dress like a supermodel, but getting around the basics of professional wear is something every business person should know. Luckily, we have come up with tips that will help you dress for success.

Dress appropriately

Almost every workplace has a dress code, whether it is business formal, business professional, business casual or even casual, if you want to look like you fit in, you must follow the code and look good at the same time. Depending on what your profession is, you must look the part if you want your coworkers and employers to take you seriously. 

If you work in business or law, you are most likely going to be expected to wear business professional clothes, even if your company might not have a strict code, and if you work in the creative field, you can probably get away with casual clothes most of the time. If you are unsure what you should wear to work, look at the people around you. How do they dress? 

Get the staples right

Now that you have established the dress code, you can begin curating your wardrobe. Start with a classic pantsuit if you work in a formal environment. It is always a good idea to start with the staples. A couple of different pantsuits and skirt suits, blouses, shirts and cotton tops, a cashmere turtleneck and a couple of pumps and flats and you are good to go. 

You can combine them, wear them separately, and mix and match. The important thing is to find your signature style and stick to it. Eventually, when you see what works for you and what does not, you will be ready to experiment with cuts and color schemes.

Grooming is important

Imagine going to the bank to get a loan, and you see the bank manager has greasy hair full of dandruff, has bad teeth and nails or smells of sweat. This is unacceptable in the professional world, so you would most likely choose a different bank. Same goes for you. Always keep your hair healthy and nurtured, your nails well-manicured, and wear subtle makeup, depending on your profession. 

Make sure that your clothes are clean and ironed, and without any loose threads or holes (keep spare stockings in your purse). Lastly, bring a deodorant or perfume with you to work, especially in summer. That will keep you smelling fresh and clean.

Accessorize your outfit

Accessories are your best friends in the corporate world. They give you the opportunity to express your originality and style, yet still remain professional. The right accessories will bring your whole outfit together and send an important message to your clients and coworkers. 

An elegant carbon fiber minimalist wallet instead of a chunky old leather wallet for your business cards looks sleek and fashionable. Unique subtle jewelry is a great way of secretly displaying your personality. A luxurious colorful scarf can define your outfit’s color scheme. Play around with accessories, see what you like and dislike. Remember, it is perfectly fine to keep things to a minimum.

Quality and fit always matter

The one thing about professional work clothes – you cannot afford to be in an ill-fitting outfit. You can be wearing the most expensive Chanel suit, with beautiful design, yet if it is too tight or too loose, you will definitely look unprofessional. There are items you should invest in, since you will be wearing them for more than one season, like suits, accessories and shoes. Even better than going for branded outfits would be to find a good tailor, so you can have all your suits custom-made to fit your body like a glove. Be sure to purchase classic button-down shirts since these are versatile pieces that are great for dressing up and dressing down!

Separate work and casual clothes

Many women mix and match their regular clothes with their work clothes. While this may work for some, most of the time it can make you confused when shopping for new outfits. You start thinking about whether you can wear that shirt with jeans for Sunday brunch or not. Instead, think about your work clothes as a professional uniform. 

At work, dress for who you want to be perceived as, not who you really are. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you are a bit sloppy and casual in your personal life, that is perfectly okay, just do not bring that into the office. It is much easier to separate your private and professional life by having distinct wardrobes.

Wrapping up

Dressing professionally may seem like so much work in the beginning. Start with the basics, define your style and get some staple pieces. After you can decorate all you want with accessories, just make sure everything fits nicely. One step at a time and you will get the hang of it.

Written by Mike Johnston