Working in a creative space is a blessing and a curse when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. While we rejoice at the opportunity to embrace our personal style, a lax dress code can be a bit confusing: Will my boss think I take my job less seriously if I forgo a button-down in favor of a comfy T-shirt ? Does HR really approve of jeans?
To help answer these questions and quash your worries, we sat down with career expert Lauren McGoodwin, founder and creator of Career Contessa, to learn her thoughts on how to dress for a professional environment without sacrificing your personal style. Scroll to read her advice (and feel free to treat yourself to a few new HR-approved pieces in the process).
Tell us a bit about your business.
Career Contessa is a comprehensive resource for women that provides online tools, advice, courses, and the direction they may need to navigate, enhance, or change their careers. I wanted to ensure women felt supported.
What exactly does dressing for success mean to you?
I used to reply to this by saying “Dress for the job you want,” but after interviewing plenty of great women for my podcast, The Femails, I realize that dressing for your authentic self is best. If that means a great pair of heels, great, but it might also mean sneakers with a dress. However you need to dress to show up and perform at your optimal level is how you should build your look. If that means being more comfortable and casual so you’re not shifting around at your desk all day getting distracted, opt for that.
Speaking of dressing for the job you want, not the job you have, do you think upper management notices how employees dress?
All people experience unconscious bias, so you might have a boss who associates your appearance with how much you care about work. A good way to decide how important your put-together appearance matters to your boss is by looking at how they dress for their day-to-day. It’s not a great reality, but it’s the truth. That being said, putting in extra effort should not mean changing your look. Just because your boss wears a blazer and slacks doesn’t mean you need to change your personal taste to impress them. Find a way to look polished that feels true to you. And you can make sure when you’re a boss one day to only promote/reward based on merit.
Creative offices with no dress code can feel like a bit of a gray area. Are there any pieces you believe should be avoided despite not necessarily being inappropriate?
I think “polished” and “practicality” are a good filters to run gray-area items through. For example, do flip-flops look polished? Are they practical if you need to walk around the office with clients? Probably not. Are ripped jeans polished? Not necessarily, but they may look polished as long as you pair them with the right top and shoes.
If your pieces aren’t stained, worn-through, and or impractical for your job, they pass the test. I’ve found that investing in wardrobe essentials is key. Some items I invested in that I still use all the time are flattering dark skinny jeans, leather flats, a black blazer in a less-formal material, and a “grown-up” backpack that feels practical (but a bit more exciting that a tote or briefcase).
What if your office does have a strict business dress code? Any tips for still making the style your own?
My first job had a strict business dress code, and most of the things I wore were black, white, and gray. To mix it up, I’d wear brighter jewelry, paint my nails a bold red, or wear a printed shirt under my jacket. It’s important to inject a bit of personality into your look when you can.
Up Next, 8 Who What Wear Editors on the Outfits That Got Them Hired
Shop 23 of This Week's Best New Arrivals
It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for our weekly installment of new arrivals. For today’s roundup, I’ve searched high and low to find the best in designer and fast-fashion pieces—all of which just hit stores—so that you can be the first of your friends to wear them. After all, if you’re going to buy something, why not beat everyone else to it?
From summer tops to dresses for parties, brunch, and everything in between, there was a lot to love this week (not to mention something for every style type and price point). Now you just have to narrow down your favorites and make room in your closet—sorry! So what are you waiting for? Shop my picks of the week below and don’t forget to check back next Wednesday for another batch of fresh fashion finds.
Want more? Shop last week’s new arrivals.
This Miami Fashion Girl's Look Is Screenshot-Worthy (and Under $100)
When I daydream about Miami style, I get excited: I immediately think bright colors (and even brighter whites), bold prints, and evening-ready looks that seem synonymous with both the tropical climate and electric vibe of the city. That being said, I actually find it even more exciting to discover someone who stays totally true to their unique personal style, no matter their location. Take Miami local and fashion girl Bianka Walker, for example. “I’d say I’m more a New Yorker soul stuck in Miami,” Walker tells me. “I’m not a dress-and-heels type of girl. I’m all about sneakers and platforms.”
Originally from Ecuador, Bianka has lived in Miami on and off since she was 16, and she feels at home in the city thanks to its large Latina community and gorgeous weather. When I noted that her personal style differs from her fellow locals, she conceded that the city definitely has a style that everyone follows, and she sometimes feels the pressure to conform.
Ultimately, though, she feels that it’s important to stay true to herself when creating an outfit. So what does a Miami girl with an NYC soul (and a knack for affordable finds) want you to buy this summer, you ask? For starters, this perfect straw bag and these platform dad sneakers, both of which she scored at Walmart. Scroll to shop her entire look, see her favorite summer trends, and discover the one touristy spot in Miami she actually enjoys.
What’s your summer vibe in one word?
What are the top trends for summer you’re looking forward to trying?
I’m looking forward to including bright colors in my outfits. Usually I wear nudes and blacks, but I’m ready to go out of my comfort zone this summer. I also want to try mixing textures more, like I did with the straw bag and jeans here.
Tell us a bit about the outfit…
This outfit screams my name. I love the black denim (especially the detailing), and the hat and shoes are such cute accessories. Plus the jacket. Fringe and metallics are two trends we’ll see a lot of this season, and what better way to display that than in this jacket? The top is super simple but cute, and while the shoes were originally a little crazy for my taste, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I chose this outfit because these pieces feel versatile enough to pair with other looks in my closet as well.
Do you believe in mixing high and low fashion?
Yes, I’m a big fan of mixing high and low! I think it’s the perfect combo. I tend to splurge most on staples like purses and shoes.
Name the one tourist destination that’s actually worth seeing in Miami.
Calle 8! Love the vibes, and the food is amazing. It’s the perfect mix of Miami and Cuba.
Next, 8 Basics That Deliver, No Matter Where in the World You Live
The Affordable Cult Brands That Will Be All Over Your Instagram Feeds in 2019
The word “affordable” is one I’m always wary of using within my fashion writing, as one person’s bargain is always going to be another person’s splurge. The pieces I’m about to talk about below certainly aren’t cheap, however, unlike many of the brands on Net-a-Porter and MatchesFashion, they are potentially accessible to those of us who normally shop at Zara and Topshop
The contemporary market is one which has been growing significantly over the past two years. Back in 2017, I wrote about how brands like Ganni, Rixo, Staud and Réalisation are fighting to make your wardrobes brighter, better and more affordable. Instead of diffusion lines that mimic the aesthetic of a bigger design house at a lower price point, this new breed of labels are independent selling direct to consumer, with their own instantly identifiable design. Over the past two years, most of the cult buys that we have written about at Who What Wear are by these designers and priced around the $200-$350 mark.
This direct-to-consumer contemporary bracket is one that’s still hugely growing, and these are no longer just small Instagram-led businesses but a key priority for leading luxury retailers. In fact, buyers now scout for brands by scrolling. Net-a-Porter this summer is launching seven brands that were previously only direct-to-consumer, taking niche brands to a global audience. Keep scrolling to shop the new affordable cult brands that we at Who What Wear are championing in 2019.
Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring/summer 2019.
This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK.
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