Recently I had the pleasure of writing an article for Startup Princess, an online resource for women entrepreneurs, about professional attire and personal style. I’ve gotten permission to republish the article for my readers — enjoy!
When you think of professional attire, is a traditional navy blue pantsuit with a predictable white collared dress shirt the first thing that comes to mind? It very well may be! As an image consultant, I’m happy to tell you that dressing professionally doesn’t need to be boring or predictable. For 2011, let’s infuse personal style into your business attire.
There are several things you can do to bring personal style into your professional attire. In the photo sequence below, we’ve shown you five different ways to style a versatile black blazer, infusing personal style into each. From left to right:
- A traditional black suit gets an infusion of personality with a red top and matching obi belt, providing drama and pizzazz with the color contrast and unique styling.
- A black skirt suit can be easily paired with a vibrant teal turtleneck. When you take the jacket off, you have an attractive hourglass silhouette.
- A satin empire waist blouse with abstract shapes blends beautifully with the black blazer and the brown pulls out the color of her eyes. As an unmatched suit with white pants, the look is professional, yet accessible. (My black kitten, in the bottom left corner of the image, matches perfectly!)
- Rolling up the sleeves on the black blazer gives this traditional staple a trendy, relaxed look. Combine that with dangly earrings and a billowy silk blouse in a floral floral print and the look becomes more informal.
- With the rolled up sleeves, the jacket is right on trend with on the boyfriend blazer look and is a fun combination with the vintage tunic and dark wash skinny jeans. The look is youthful and decidedly creative.
As you can see, it’s not just what you wear, it’s how you wear it.
Here are some ways that you can add personal style into your professional attire in 2011:
- If you’re required to wear a suit jacket but you feel overwhelmed wearing the traditional style jacket, look for one with a curved collar instead of the standard angular lapel. The rounder shapes will soften the look for you.
- To spice up your suit jacket, try accessorizing. A brooch, matching belt, or colorful scarf will go a long way in adding some flair.
- To soften the professional look, trade in your collared shirts for blouses in colors that complement your personal coloring. For example, if you have brown hair, blues will look great on you.
- Wear a vest. The vest has made a major comeback recently. Buttoned up, a vest can emphasize a great waistline, or be left unbuttoned for a more relaxed look. Vests even look terrific over Tees.
- Try a cardigan. The softer version of the suit jacket, a cardigan will provide you an extra layer to help you look more capable, but can also give you added warmth and coverage to hide any figure variations like a full bust or leftover baby weight.
Do you still feel clueless about personal style? If you’re dying to discover your personal style, I have an easy exercise for you.
One thing I recommend for my clients to do is go through fashion magazines, pulling out pictures of clothes, accessories, and looks they love, then start a Personal Style file. This simply exercise is a great way to help you recognize what your unique personal style embodies. Starting a Personal Style file will allow you to identify your personal style preferences and give you ideas for items you can add into your wardrobe this year.
Nobody said business attire has to be boring. Add some personal style to your work wardrobe and create a look that’s that uniquely yours!