I came of age in the 90s, when office wear meant wearing a suit to work. Yes, complete with stockings and heels. I mean, who wears that these days? Especially in this heat. But back during my time, a banker girl with dreams of rising up the ladder would wear her black opaque tights and heels with a tailored pencil skirt, a blouse and jacket. That’s just how it was.
Maybe we were trying to channel the Hong Kong office girls, maybe it was an offshoot of the grunge influence when we'd wear tights with Doc Martens, I really don’t know what got into our heads then. But thankfully these days, office wear has relaxed to a point that girls don’t have to subject themselves to wearing heels, jackets and pencil skirts unless we want to.
Today, the rules of work have also changed in the sense that people can work from home, in a coffee shop, a co-working space, even in the car while on the phone.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to let your workwear wardrobe slide. No matter where you hold court, be it in a corner office, or your client’s conference room, it’s important to make a good first impression, and look professional throughout.
Here are 8 tips to remember, to rock that “Girl Boss” style:
Never underestimate the power of a shift dress
- I have a friend with an arsenal of shift dresses that she slips into whenever she has an important presentation. It’s a piece that makes you look instantly polished, without having to compromise on comfort, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
Sheryl Sandberg is a proponent of shift dresses. Shift from F&F
Buy multiples of the perfect tailored pants
- It’s a wardrobe staple that will serve you well. The possibilities are endless. Wear it to the airport with a t-shirt and sneakers, to the boardroom with a blazer, silk top and heels. Tailored trousers are a key piece that gets you dressed up in record time.
Victoria Beckham keeps it sleek and simple in a white shirt, tailored trousers and heels. F&F zip trousers
Invest in a good jacket
- Jackets don’t just keep you warm, they have the power to transform. A well-constructed jacket should feel like second skin, with the shoulder pads resting on your shoulders, the sleeve falling right before the wristbone, and the hem hitting the hips.
Jenna Lyons relies on well-constructed jackets to dress her up instantly. Jacket by F&F
Go easy on the accessories
- Invest in a few key pieces and leave it at that. When it comes to looking professional, less is always more.
Anna Wintour, the most powerful woman in fashion, knows the essentials.
Wear some color, try new fabrics
- While loud colors can be tricky, there are subdued tones that can add just the right amount of pizzazz to an outfit. That said, explore new fabric options. Who says chambray shirts are only meant for rough and tumble weekends. When paired with a printed or colored pencil skirt, it ups the fun factor to office dressing.
Hanneli Mustaparta makes a case for the mustard skirt. Check out F&F for a similar mustard skirt and chambray shirt
Consider a personal uniform
- Just take a look at Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. It’s one less thing to think about in the morning.
Take inspiration from Steve Jobs himself. Turtleneck by F&F
No need to be perfect, just be polished
- Who wants to be perfect? Garance Dore says “Nobody perfect is cool. And nobody cool is perfect.” What we ought to aim for shouldn’t just be cool, but polish as well. A good skin care regimen, nice hair and a touch of makeup is a great way to show politeness to the world.
When I grow up, I want to be as polished as Carolina Herrera, the ultimate icon of cool. polished elegance.
There are no rules.
- Do gamechangers and disruptors follow rules? Thought so. At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules. Go with your heart, stay true to your core. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Stay true to your own personal style. Being comfortable in your own skin is what matters, as seen by the varied but equally alluring styles of Julie Sarinana, Miroslava Duma and Garance Dore.