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Kirk Loftin


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Dressing for Success at Work

Keeping up with the latest and greatest fashion trends is exhausting (not to mention prohibitively expensive for those of us that don’t have our own line of rocket ships). Luckily, in a workplace setting, we’re not being judged on the same level as if we’re walking a runway in Milan. Still though, you don’t want to be known as the office slob, so here are some super easy, basic tips for dressing professionally and looking good at work.

Before anything else, take a few moments to learn some basics of color theory. Which colors complement which other colors? Why do certain colors clash so badly? Knowing even just color basics will help you avoid clashing outfits (like navy pants and a pair or black socks), and also help you better accessorize. Wearing the exact same outfit but matching the colors can greatly increase your overall look.

Clothes are not about the names on the label, or where you bought them, or even for how much. I’ve seen people with $200 t-shirts that look terrible and people with outfits they pieced together at Wal-Mart that look great. Clothes are about finding what looks good on you, not how much it made you short on rent. 

Another small step that makes a huge difference is making sure that your clothes fit correctly. Too often, people wear clothes that are too small or too large, and neither help you look your best. For instance, the shoulder seam of your shirt should comfortably rest on your actual shoulder, not hang down an inch down your arm. Baggier clothes redefine your body’s shape, and rarely in a flattering way. If your job allows you to wear jeans, consider a slim fit leg versus a loose one.

Adding some simple accessories can help show that effort was put into your clothes. I know some guys are afraid of the word “accessories,” but this can be things like a watch or a tie. Depending on what you’re comfortable wearing, things like bracelets, watches, earrings, rings, ties, tie clips, cufflinks, anklets, etc. can add a small splash of color or design to help show off your personality.

Staying well groomed is another big plus for looking good in the workplace. If you have facial hair, give it a simple trim every morning. This gives it a shape, and shows more effort. Staying freshly showered and clean also is appreciated by everyone in the office. If you choose to wear a scent (like cologne, perfume, or body spray), be conservative with how much you use. You don’t want to burn the eyes of the person sitting next to you in your attempt to smell like Tim McGraw.

The big key to dressing for work is to cultivate a look that shows it’s purposeful. Showing effort in your outfit makes you look more professional. It’s not about impressing people, it’s about feeling good about yourself, being confident, and showing that you take your job seriously. You don’t need your own personal Tan France to look good at work, just be aware of the choices you make when it comes to your clothes. Dress comfortably, and in a way that lets you feel good about yourself (while following the company’s dress code, of course).

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