Back To Work Style Tips
Get back to work in style with these expert tips from your image consultant and personal stylist. Focus on your work, get out of the house faster and stop second-guessing your style choices.
Whether you are going back to work after the summer, after your parental leave, after your sick leave, after your sabbatical or COVID-19 lockdown, this style advice will help you put your best foot forward in every situation.
A lot has been changed on the work front since last year and for many it has been a challenge to figure put what to wear to work in 2020. I want to help you and take the guess-work out of it.
These tips apply to face-to-face work situations, working from home and meeting people online.
1. Set Your Style Intention
Your image speaks volumes, often before you have even had the chance to say a word. Pay careful attention to what kind of image you want to project before planning your actual outfits. Every aspect of your style sends a message to others.
Make your style choices intentional by asking yourself these questions:
- What are your current values, skills and aspirations?
- Does your style reflect those aspects of you?
- What would you wear if you were not afraid of anyone’s judgement?
- How you can express yourself better through your style?
Note that my focus is on NOW because I want you to realize that life happens right here and right now. Not when it’s your favorite season, not when you get the promotion your want, not when you are at your ideal weight, not when you have more time or money. NOW.
READ MORE: The high impact of your appearance
2. Know What Works For YOU
Start your get back to work style journey by focusing first on JUST YOU. Look yourself in the mirror and make a list of your strong points. Close your eyes from the influence of others, current fashion and style trends.
Discover your body shape, what looks great on you and what styles you love to wear. Define the colors that flatter you the most, but also work in your job description.
Don’t take me wrong, I really love to seek style inspiration in magazines and online but the truth to be told: I am not a model, actress or an influencer.
What works on them might not work for me. I don’t want you to fall in this trap of comparing yourself to others and making their choices affect you.
Style is a very personal matter and most stylish people in the world are always individual and deeply authentic. If you want fashion, you can always copy great looks that you see on Instagram. But if you want style, you look at yourself.
READ MORE: Learn to dress your shape
3. Be Practical
When planning your back to work style it pays off to be a little bit practical. Make a list of your daily routines, upcoming events, business trips and holidays. This will help you to map your style needs and to shop intentionally.
Think about the typical weather in your country. In a cold country, like The Netherlands, you want to pay extra attention to outer wear and shoes.
Also consider your daily commute. Many of my clients are cycling to work and I would hate to make them do that in a pencil skirt and delicate heels.
If you need to bring/pick up your children to/from the nursery or school, it’s better not to wear anything too precious. Those bye-bye hugs can be sticky!
Plan your style like you would be building a capsule wardrobe. Think about the compatibility of your clothes: Their materials, colors, purpose and proportions.
Starting small with just a few well planned outfits will help your busy mornings a lot. If you get really inspired nobody will stop you from expanding and creating more looks.
4. Consider Dress Codes
Many offices have given up stuffy dress codes to the relief of many. Employees are now in charge of their own style, which is at the same time liberating, but also confusing.
The strict rule book has been replaced by unspoken expectations. Some say that it was easier when everyone was just wearing a grey suit.
Style is a great way to express yourself but at work you are there to represent your employer. So even without a dress code it’s still important to match the expectations, especially in a customer-facing role.
If you are unsure what kind of business attire is expected at your office, don’t hesitate to ask HR, your manager or your mentor.
Regardless of the dress code, or it’s absence, make sure that your clothes are clean, neat and ironed. Avoid showing too much skin and keep your image professional.
5. Observe Company Culture
The lack of dress codes has put more emphasis on company culture. A suit would look out of place in creative industries and in conservative companies denim will be frowned upon. Instead of conforming it’s now very much about belonging and being part of a community.
An easy way to get an idea of the company culture is to browse their website and social media pages. They often display the company values and the company culture in a comprehensive way.
You will see real people at work, glimpses of the offices and snapshots from events.
You can draw clear conclusions from those images and adapt your individual image to your company’s image. This will give a message that you are in the right place and a part of the group.
The changes don’t often need to be even that dramatic as you already work there. It’s just shows respect towards others and your ability to stay up to date, even when you are out of office.
6. Get Organized With Your Style
I can’t stress enough the importance of being organized. Not in an obsessive way, but in a way that helps you get ready faster. Searching for missing items of clothing, hasty ironing and changing outfit several times all eat from your time that you can spend doing more meaningful things.
Appearing effortlessly put together also gives a professional impression and helps people trust your abilities to handle challenges. Being on time respects other people’s time and shows that you are on top of your game.
In my blog post “Shop Your Closet” I give you loads useful tips on how to manage your wardrobe. Get more out of your existing clothes. Save your money for something else!
More Work Wear Ideas
I on Image’s Pinterest board “Business Style & Work Wear” is full of great office style inspiration for you to save and share.
My monthly newsletter “Stylish News from I on Image” will keep your image & style up to date. Profit from exclusive offers and image consulting advice reserved for my inner circle.
This post was originally published on 30th August 2019 and updated on 29th July 2020 with improved style advice and new photos.
Enjoy going back to work in style. Stay safe and go get them. You got this!