A professional wardrobe meets many standards and requirements – all in one. First and foremost, it is professional – it’s in the name. Professional can mean many things, including the implication that it meets any business dress code.

However, a well-designed wardrobe can do so much more than that. One can dress stylishly while still meeting all of the demands of their workplace. What is essential here is to find a balance between the requirements and your style.

Understanding Terminology

When building a professional wardrobe, the first step in the process is to understand the terminology used. There are many different dress styles for various occasions: casual, dressy casual, business casual, business professional, cocktail, black tie, and white tie.

Professionals need to understand the differences between each of these styles – and their requirements. For example, most office dress codes will likely fall either on business professional or business casual. 

Business casual is the simpler version of the two, and admittedly it takes less creative thinking to sneak in some personality with this wardrobe. Items such as polo shirts, leather shoes, solid-colored shirts, and cotton pants or skirts work nicely with this wardrobe. Meanwhile, a business professional dress code calls for solid colored jackets and suit pieces, sensible shoes, and an overall cohesive look.

Know the Code

The next step in this process is to understand what the company dress code entails. If it is a reasonably standard dress code, there should be few surprises. A business professional dress code likely calls for suits and ties, nice skirts, jackets, and high-quality clothing.

Some workplaces may add additional restrictions, and it is essential to both understand and follow these rules. For example, a business that knows employees may be entering a lab would likely require no open-toed shoes for safety reasons.

Some Advice

There are a few key concerns when it comes to creating a professional wardrobe. Finding a way to show style is one of them, yes. But that concern is secondary to making sure that everything looks good.

It’s essential that clothing fits a person well. That means that taking pieces to a tailor for alterations should be standard practice, as this is the best way to fit a piece for a specific body. The result will be worth it. 

Additionally, don’t forget simple steps such as keeping articles of clothing clean and well pressed. Combine that with a well-maintained hairstyle and an overall professional look, and you will be dressed for success.

Adding in Personality

Finally, here comes the fun part of designing a wardrobe – adding in style and personality. There are countless ways to do this, even for a more professional wardrobe. One can even do so without breaking their workplace dress code if done correctly.

One of the best ways to show a little bit of personality and style is by allowing for a pop of color. This color can either be part of an accent piece, such as a pair of earrings or a blouse tucked neatly under a blazer. Or it could be bold – such as having the entire blazer be a solid and bright color. 

If that idea sounds a little too intimidating or isn’t your style, there are plenty of other opportunities. Exploring different textures and patterns is always a stylish option – though some prints will be deemed more professional than others, so keep that in mind.

Adding Accessories to the Mix

One could always experiment with hairstyles. Head to a professional salon, explain the dilemma and see what your stylist can come up with. Or simply play with a few different ways of putting up your hair. Again, there are no hard and fast rules here. Don’t forget that there are plenty of work-appropriate hair accessories out there that can add a little bit of flair.

Another crucial part of a wardrobe design would be the accessories. This is the perfect place to let one’s style show. Statement necklaces are always stylish for women, while bold and classy watches always work nicely with a suit.

Other options include bold ties, colorful scarves, and fancy earrings. In reality, there is no limit when it comes to accessory choices. Finally, don’t forget the shoes! While there is a common assumption that all business professional shoes have to be solid and dark, this is not always the case. 

Again, this may be dependent on specific dress codes. Even with a sterner restriction in place, high-quality and professional shoes are out there to match a person’s distinctive style – and comfort level.