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Looking Sharp at Work: Tips from a Pro Stylist

How you dress to work is important in how others perceive your professional image. For the clueless, here are some useful tips from a fashion stylist to guide you.

If you aspire for success, it is important to look the part. What you wear, how you communicate and your body language can all impact the image others have of you. 

Your professional look goes a long way toward making a positive impression at work and for you to be considered seriously at work.

Whether you’re in the midst of searching for a new job or heading back to the office, Workipedia by MyCareersFuture asks Syaza Farhana, Zalora’s fashion stylist, the questions you’ve always wanted answers to when it comes to nailing the professional look.

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With hybrid working becoming the norm, how have dress codes changed?

If you’re working in the corporate field, there wouldn’t be any significant change. But since the onset of the pandemic, people are less prone to subscribe to the “right time, right outfit” mentality. 

For companies with no strict dress code, athleisure wear has become the norm in the workplace. One example is combining sports attire such as leggings and sweatpants with a shirt or blazer. 

Image credit: Zalora

Employees are getting bolder with their fashion choices due to not being able to express themselves for the past two years.

Explore more hybrid jobs on MyCareersFuture!

What are some new fashion styles/trends that are here to stay?

Trends come and go but one we never see leave the runways is the use of bold and bright colours such as colour-blocking and tone-on-tone. 

However, incorporating colours into your wardrobe can be daunting for those who are not used to the bold style of dressing. So, start small by adding colours to your accessories such as bags and shoes. 

Image credit: Zalora

As you get more comfortable with colours, you can start introducing more statement pieces into your daily workwear. 

What is smart casual?

Smart casual is basically a balance between looking casual yet polished. For work, one can achieve this look by matching a workwear piece like a tailored collared shirt with denim jeans. 

Image credit: Zalora

The whole idea is to look refined, so it’s best to stick to lighter colour tones with a touch of black or navy for sophistication.

Read More: Business Casual Attire — Wait, What’s That?

When is it appropriate to wear a blazer?

There is no one perfect occasion to put on a blazer. A blazer is especially great on days when you want to look put together. You can never be overdressed, only underdressed. 

Image credit: Zalora

If you’re self-conscious about overdressing when putting on a blazer, you can tone down your look by pairing it with a pair of loafers or plain white sneakers.

What kind of footwear would be comfortable, yet professionally presentable if I’m always on the move? 

If comfort is still important to look great, loafers should be your go-to footwear. They’re easy to slip into and comfortable enough for someone who’s always on the go. 

Image credit: Zalora

Most importantly, they don’t look too shabby even for business meetings!

Advice for looking fashionable while wearing a mask? 

Having a mask shouldn’t prevent you from looking fashionable. However, unless you’re a doctor preparing for surgery, avoid the bright blue, sterile-looking medical mask because that can instantly ruin any good outfit. 

One tip is to choose a colour from your outfit and pair it with a mask of a similar colour. 

Image credit: Zalora

Since wearing a mask gives a sense of anonymity, take it as an opportunity to experiment with fashion and step out of your comfort zone with less fear of judgement. 

What can women wear in the office that is appropriate yet comfortable?

Working from home has definitely made it hard to move on from comfort clothes. However, comfortable clothes don’t have to be ugly. 

Wearing ratty t-shirt and sweatpants are alright at home when you’re away from the eyes of colleagues and bosses. When working in the office, such clothes won’t do. 

Where comfort meets style, loungewear pieces are key!  

Image credit: Zalora

For women, they can opt for a light knit piece top that still delivers the comfort factor while looking polished. Wear a pair of chinos with an elastic waistband in place of sweatpants. 

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style and professionalism.

Read More: If You’re a Woman Looking to Return From a Career Break, Here’s Why Now’s the Best Time to Do It

What are some mistakes that people make when dressing for an interview/dressing for the office?

Hands down, dressing too casually. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Having said that, do your research and be familiar with the company’s culture to dress appropriately. 

“Is this look ok for my job interview later?” asked the clueless jobseeker.

Looking smart, polished and clean is a fail-proof way to dress. If you’re interviewing for corporate positions, then go ahead and flex that sharp suit!

For men, are white socks considered a faux pas to be worn in the office?

It’s not a faux pas but with all the options in stores nowadays, why stick to just white?

If you are working in a corporate setting, one of the best ways to inject some personality into your conservative attire would be by adding patterned or coloured socks. 

Image credit: Zalora

If you’re not so adventurous, start small by matching your socks to your trousers or stick to muted tones.

What’s one staple that every employee should have in their closet?

Tailored trousers. This goes for both men and women. It’s all in the fit as there’s nothing worse than walking around in trousers that are too short, too long, too tight or too loose on you.

Image credit: Zalora

A pair of well-tailored trousers is an investment even if you’re not required to dress conservatively to work.

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