by Megan Shroy
That dreaded moment when you step into your closet only to slam the door in disgust because nothing—absolutely nothing—is quite right.
Plus, you’ve got enough decisions to make.
In the midst of your busy professional life, the last thing you need is to spend time debating what to wear to an after-hours networking event or a big client presentation.
Managing your work wardrobe can be stressful. And simply put: You don’t have the time to worry about it.
However, according to an article published by Business Insider, research shows that your appearance strongly influences other people's perception of your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence and suitability for hire or promotion.
At Approach Marketing, we understand the challenges associated with dressing for success. All of our consultants have jam-packed schedules and juggle their careers, families, friends and activities outside of work. Yet despite the fullness of our professional and personal lives, focusing on what to wear is still a daily concern.
Recognizing that first impressions matter and a polished appearance can engender self-confidence as well as instill trust within our clients, here we offer our best advice to help you present the best version of yourself—and put your best foot forward—at every type of work-related occasion.
1. Invest in key pieces
Every working woman needs three universal pieces in her wardrobe that are suitable for any event—from a business trip to meet with a new client for the first time to an awards event: 1) a fitted blazer, 2) a little black dress and 3) classic jewelry, such as pearl earrings and a yellow-gold cuff to dress up a basic look.
2. Consider your peers
A more mature crowd interested in fundraising, laid-back millennials enthusiastic about the libations or savvy developers unveiling a new product? Prior to the affair, think about who will be in attendance and coordinate your outfit accordingly—because there’s nothing more awkward that showing up over- or underdressed.
3. When in doubt, play it safe
Everyone’s definition of business casual, cocktail attire and black tie differs. If you’re attending an event that calls for a specific dress code, don’t panic. Err on the side of caution and choose a look that’s on the conservative side—but still distinctive. For business casual, a pencil skirt, blouse and piece of statement jewelry work best while a knee-length dress and heels that can easily transition from day to night are appropriate for cocktail hour.
4. Kiss the rules goodbye
It’s no longer a faux pas to wear white after Labor Day. And denim can be dressed up so that it’s appropriate for the workplace. Anything goes in fashion nowadays—within reason—which can take some of the pressure off of deciding what to wear. Don’t let yourself be bound by conventional rules or expectations; instead, have fun with this newfound freedom.
5. You don’t have to spend a million bucks to look like it
In today’s saturated and competitive retail landscape, good deals are everywhere. One option is to scour “discount stores” like Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and others to find fashion forward work pieces for a fraction of the original price. If that’s not your thing, check out Rent the Runway—an online retailer that provides designer dress and accessory rentals. That’s right, you can actually rent these items. They offer on-trend options for the workplace as well as a subscription service. If your job requires you to attend a variety of events, Rent the Runway is a lifesaver.
6. Be prepared
Keep an extra dress and pair of heels in your office or car in the event you receive a last-minute invite. This will prevent you from needing to make a pit stop at home or rushing into a store to pick up something on the fly. Additionally, stock a small cosmetics bag with a travel-size toothbrush, toothpaste, brush and/or comb, hairspray, lipstick and sample bottle of fragrance for a quick touch up.
7. Enlist the help of a professional
If shopping is too time-consuming, stressful or simply something you don’t enjoy, a myriad of retailers offer complimentary personal shoppers to get the job done for you.
- Trunk Club pairs you with a personal stylist who will send a “trunk” full of options based on your preferences, as often as you’d like. Within five days of receipt, decide what you want to keep and send back what you don’t using their free shipping service.
- Schedule an appointment online or in-store to meet with a personal stylist at Nordstrom. They will fill a dressing room based on your style, budget and goals—then offer suggestions and advice based on the initial consult.
Whether you update your wardrobe with a few new pieces from an online retailer, rent a Diane von Furstenburg gown for an upcoming event or begin working with a fashion-focused professional, we hope the most important accessory you wear is confidence.