Commandments of Style
1. Sweat the small stuff. We’re talking fine details. Shave or wax your legs if you’ll be wearing a skirt. Take a hard look in the mirror and if your upper lip needs waxing, by all means. Even better, have a professional do the honours. Make sure your eyebrows are shaped, waxed or plucked so they open your eyes. You want to look polished. People don’t necessarily noticed if you’re groomed, but they definitely notice when you’re not.
2. Restrain yourself. Never let your accessories wear you. Throw away the headbands, banana clips and scrunchies – or save them for your Friday night mud mask. Big, chunky jewellery can look fantastic, but limit you to one key piece. Wear one or two rings, max. And choose jewellery that you really love. It’s a great way to develop your signature style and express your personality. Jewellery with a story – your grandmother’s earrings, the bracelet you bought to celebrate a milestone, your engagement ring – is beautiful and often becomes a conversation starter.
3. Know your body. Recognize that every style trend is not designed for you. This isn’t a limitation – its just reality. One of the most important pieces you’ll purchase is a suit. It’s a big investment, so you want to make sure it looks amazing. Learn which styles, jacket lengths and silhouettes flatter your shape and work from there. If you’re not sure what works for you, go shopping with a very honest friend or book an appointment Sales Associate or stylist.
4. Black is your friend. Black staples – pants, 3/4-length jackets, and skirts – are clean, classic and they always look Wildly Sophisticated. Not to mention they’re flattering, and they’ll work with everything else in your closet. Basic black pieces can also stretch your clothing budget, because they endure through changing seasons and trends. When you’re dressing for a full day of work and cocktails to follow, you can use black basics to take you from day into night. Swap your button-down shirt for something a little more bare and colourful. Add great earrings, strappy shoes and go hit happy hour.
5. Focus on your feet. You don’t have to buy stock in Manolo Blahnik, but a great pair of shoes can make all the difference in your look. From a fabulous stiletto to a gorgeous pair of boots, your footwear is the finishing touch. Let’s face it – there’s nothing like killer heels to make you feel confident and powerful. Oh, and make sure your footwear is polished and clean. This is another one of those details that people really do notice.
6. Welcome the three-way. Is your blouse bursting at the seams? Is your bra digging into your back? Not only do ill-fitting clothes look unprofessional, you’re not doing your boobs any favours. Forget about sizes and numbers and go by fit. Sizes can vary wildly by designer anyway, so look for pieces that hug your curves without strangling them. On the flip side, you don’t want to swim in your clothes. A great fit shows (but doesn’t overexpose) your shape.
7. Work it. Style is really a synonym for self-expression. Women like Diane von Furstenberg, Katharine Hepburn and Gwyneth Paltrow are style icons because they’ve followed their own vision – not a roller coaster of changing trends. You’ll feel incredible when your clothes reflect your personality. You can work in the most conservative environment and still add splashes of individuality to your wardrobe. From a printed blouse under a tailored suit to crimson polish in open-toed shoes, think about how to express yourself in ways that are still industry-appropriate.
8. Consider quality. We’ve all faced this dilemma: You’re shopping for a new coat and it’s down to two contenders. Both charcoal grey, both warm, both perfect for a range of outfits. But one is cashmere and the other is acrylic. One is at the top end of your price range and the other is a major steal. Which coat? Well, when the cheap acrylic disintegrates and starts looking like a stuffed animal on your back, you’ll know you should have splurged for the cashmere. In the long run, quality clothes will actually save you money.
9. Invest in accessories. Think about it this way. You’re not going to wear the same pair of pants all week (one would hope), but your bag or briefcase is a constant companion. Clients, employers and colleagues will all notice what’s draped on your arm. Invest in a quality piece that reflects your style. And in this age of laptops, cell phones and PDAs, a bag that will carry both your purse and your hardware is a lifesaver.
10. Relax. Bottom line? Its just fashion. No one’s going to fire you for wearing last season’s Burberry coat. Give it your best shot; know that style matters and that looking groomed and professional are important for your career. Have fun. But if you’re spending more time reading Vogue than actually working, it’s time to re-assess your priorities.