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Make Power Dressing Work for You!

What you wear to work not only boosts your confidence, but also gets you noticed! Workplace dressing is evolving into an important fashion statement.

Style has become an important element in the workplace. In today’s global environment it is important to dress well and style correctly. According to a recent study, about 58% of our impressions of people are formed based on how they look. Although fashion trends change every season, there are some ground rules that are relevant in any workplace.

Western Formals
Pant suits, slacks and formal shirts/blouses lend a trim, business-like appearance. Buy trousers and slacks that suit your body-type and not your size. Pencil pants look great if you are tall or slim. Lycra-blended trousers are flattering on pear shaped women. Avoid low rise fits and hipsters. Black, blue and tan are good colour choices. Your wardrobe must have at least 2-3 formal trousers. If you can, opt for the “wrinkle-free” range. Don’t wear denims to work, unless the dress code allows it.

Managing in pencil skirts can be difficult. Wear skirts only if you are absolutely confident. Ideally, the skirt should be about four inches above the knee.

Blouses and shirts add variety and colour to your outfits. The Indian skin palette complements a range of colour tones. Mix and match for great results. Opt for cotton-blended shirts and blouses. They work well in the Indian climate. Try coral, deep rust, terracotta or jewel tones in green, blue or red. A deep red button-down shirt with a nice pair of black slacks is a classic. Try a well cut, two-piece beige pant suit with a black V-neck blouse for your next meeting.

While a well-cut short jacket is good to have, invest in several good quality stoles too. Stoles add professionalism and class to your outfit. They go well with both skirts and trousers.

Thumb rule - quality over quantity! Try Marks & Spencer’s or Allen Solly for their range of formal pants and shirts. Mustard is good for plus-sized women. Short tops, clinging and cleavage-revealing clothes are an absolute no-no, even at office parties! Avoid short-sleeved T-shirts, transparent chiffons and cheap knits. Bright colours, heavy embroidery, bling and frills can look cheap. Before you decide to wear western formals, assess your work environment and organization culture.

Ethnic Wear
Salwar suits and sarees are great wardrobe options for working women in India. These outfits are comfortable, easy to maintain and blend well with any Indian work environment. Wear salwar suits that fit well. Keep the style simple - preferably knee-length kurta-cuts or A-lines. Avoid tight or short kurtis over leggings. Three-quarter and half-sleeved suits are best for work. Wear stoles and dupattas only for formal meetings. Simple V-neck/Chinese collared kurtas work well. Try browns, pastels, reds, blues and greens. Easy fits from Westside or FabIndia can be good options. Cotton is an excellent fabric for Indian weather. However, make sure that your salwar suits are wrinkle free. There is nothing worse than turning up for work in a creased outfit.

If you can manage them, sarees in Raw-Silk or Tussar are excellent choices for meetings. They don’t crease and look good throughout the day. Avoid large prints, heavy embroidery, deep-neck blouses and jewellery. Earthy tones add grace and sophistication to your personality. You can wear simple Patolas, Ikats or Dhakai silks for formal occasions. Light Kancheevarams are also a good choice.

The right bag, belt, shoes, jewellery and perfume can add a new dimension to your everyday work clothes. Even with limited work wear, the right accessories can create a new look. As a working woman, it is important to have at least two good quality leather bags, preferably in neutrals. Go for holdalls that look formal. Bags with tassels, gold accessories and animal prints can look tacky.

Wear comfortable, sensible leather footwear. Pumps, sling-backs and peep-toes look good with both Indian and Western wear. You can try open strapped sandals with kurtas and wedged sandals with trousers. Keep shoes with flashy embellishments, ornamented strap, heels and bold colours for social outings. Wearing flat pumps with skirts is a big fashion faux pas! They make you look clumsy and dowdy.

Wear minimal jewellery to work. A set of simple diamond studs and a single bangle or bracelet should be sufficient. Colour-coordinated sets, dangling earrings, large rings are a big distraction. The same holds true for perfumes. Select a day perfume, which is crisp, fresh and energetic. Try Davidoff’s Cool Water, Eternity Moment by Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren’s Pure Turquoise. Choosing the right perfume comes with experience. Take your time to select one that suits you best.

Hair & Makeup…
Learn the art of sheer makeup. A touch of compact, mascara, lip gloss and you are good to go! While it is extremely personal, buy good quality lingerie and inner-wear. Regular salon visits for manicure/pedicure and waxing is a must for any working woman. Chipped nails are a sore sight. Try a French manicure. If you like nail paint, stick to nude and muted mattes. Having a fancy hair style is great. However, you must be ready for frequent trims and styling.

Experiment with new fashion trends socially. Take care to dress according to your position in the organization. Your work wear is a subtle expression of who you are!


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