Work Closet Confidential

Making your clothes speak of success.

Ally Champagne  In Vogue
Ally Champagne
In Vogue

Throughout the years, businesses have gone to great pains to establish dress codes for employees, especially those who aren’t very business-attire savvy. We know the ones – they are perfectly content going to work in a wrinkled suit or too-short skirt with cleavage screaming for attention.

Some dress codes are etched in stone while others leave room for personal interpretation as well as creative expression. Dress wear does make a difference in how you’re perceived, as we have seen in TV shows such as What Not to Wear.

Studies show it takes only 20 to 32 seconds to make a good or bad impression of someone, whether you are on the hot seat at a job interview or meeting with a new client. When representing a company, large or small, dressing professionally speaks volumes.

Photo courtesy of Laura Canada
Photo courtesy of Laura Canada

Fitting in
The most important rule for dressing is to wear clothes that fit. Too often we see people wearing clothing which is too small or too big. Invest in a full length mirror and let it be your best friend. When your waist band is cinched too tightly and your muffin top is crying for more room, it is time to bite the bullet and get clothing in a bigger size.

If your shirt buttons are pulling and the space between reveals your chest, it’s time for a size up or a top that will accommodate bigger curves. And finally, if your chest is exposed revealing cleavage when you are standing, take into consideration what others will see when you have to lean over.

Pant lengths do have guidelines to consider on your next shopping trip. When shopping, bringing the shoes you plan on wearing is vital since different pant lengths require different shoes. For women, wearing a ballet flat with trousers that are hemmed for your high heels will cause your pants to drag on the ground. On the same note, pants meant to be worn with flats will look ridiculous with your heels.

Skirt lengths can be a rather controversial subject. Some women still try to pull off the sexy secretary look. Unfortunately, they often end up looking less than classy. A good barometer for all of your work-related fashion choices is to take note of your colleagues’ reactions. Skirts should not be more than two inches above the knee as a general rule.  The old school rule applies here; make sure the skirt extends past your finger tips.

Dress to impress
Clothing has the ability to make you feel your best. Choosing colours and styles for your body type is essential. This means you must consider your height, weight, shape and body flaws. Learning to camouflage your flaws and play up your assets tells the world you know who you are and what works for you.

fashion-dos-and-dontsSo many people do not have a clue where to begin when they need to shop and too often make a quick decision rather than going to different stores.  To avoid this, find a store that comes with fashion consultants who can pick items quickly for you and your body type. They can also help choose great accessories to accentuate your outfit, including ties, necklaces, earrings or scarves. This will save you time and make sure you don’t waste money on clothes that were not made for you.

Every year we come across trends which are either fads or become classics. Investing in classic pieces is a great idea. You can buy a classic little black dress and 10 years down the road you will still be enjoying it. Suits are a little more difficult because the lapels and jacket lengths change. That being said, I have some great suits that still work today because they have regular-size lapels, are a great length in the jacket area and boot cut pant legs.

The message here is to evolve with your body – dress for your size and age. Wear clothes that will make you feel confident and credible. No matter what size you are, when you feel good and look good, you have the ability to focus on getting your work done.

Ally Champagne is a Winnipeg writer and fashionista.

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