Corporate Dress Finesse
What is appropriate corporate dress for people in client facing roles? As dress codes vary enormously from business to business and many of them are not formally explained or enforced, how do employees know what is appropriate to wear in their workplace and for their particular role?
We spoke with corporate and personal stylist Sina Lauren Hol for her thoughts and advice on appropriate corporate dress for people in client facing roles. Sina works with businesses looking for clarity and direction on this topic. Her workshops help employees to dismantle the mixed messages out there and (if required) can also help businesses to address any employees who wear inappropriate attire to work, in a non-threatening way.
With fashion trends playing a strong role in influencing what people wear in the workplace, it can be hard to know how that translates to appropriate corporate dress. Sina’s advice for employees is to keep some classic workplace essentials in their wardrobe and mix those in with more seasonal pieces.
‘Not everyone is interested in fashion and changing trends, but it helps to be fashion aware’ says Sina. If you are not fashion aware, don’t worry, Sina has provided us with some corporate dressing guidelines.
Avoid low cut tops
Dresses and tops that are too low cut are not appropriate in a corporate setting. You can fix this simply with a camisole.
Don’t come to work with chipped nail polish
Better to wear none at all.
Don’t wear leggings as pants
No crop tops
Yes crop tops are in fashion at the moment, but it’s not corporate.
Keep workplace dress essentials in your wardrobe such as:
- A well cut, sharp looking jacket
- A crisp, white shirt
It doesn’t have to be a classic shirt, you can mix it up with a frill or pleat. Don’t be afraid to inject your own personality here.
- Shoes in good condition
If you have only two pairs of shoes, make them a black pair and a nude pair. Ensure you have a comfortable pair that ties in with your stocking or pant/skirt. Steer away from the really high stilettos - this is not a corporate look.
- A good pair of pants
Choose pants with some stretch in them.
- An A-line or pencil shaped skirt
Choose a skirt that suits your body shape.
- A smart knit
Keep one on hand for cooler days and air conditioned offices.
- You don’t have to wear a tie to be corporate
Unless it’s specified in the dress code.
- A nice, well cut shirt and well cut blazer
These two items give an excellent impression.
- Go for flat front pants
Avoid pleated pants.
- Investing in some good accessories will be money well spent
Such as a quality leather belt, quality shoes (brogues are best), a quality watch is a statement piece and a satchel or quality bag looks great too.
- Groomed beards
Beards are ok in a corporate setting (and are very on trend at the moment), but must be kept trimmed and groomed.
- No orthopaedic shoes
This includes Birkenstocks or Crocs.
Some tips for everyone:
- Dress for your body shape
If you are unsure what shape you are, here are some links to read up on:
For Women - For Men
- Don’t come to the office with wet hair
It’s not a professional look.
- You can wear navy and black
Black and navy look great together. Go for it!
- No ripped jeans, shorts or thongs
‘When starting a new job you may be unsure of what is appropriate to wear if there is no dress code stipulated. In the absence of a dress code, my advice it to look up the corporate ladder to your supervisors and managers and use their style of dress as a starting point and go from there. Even if you don’t like their dress style, you can still take cues from how formal or informal they are’ says Sina.
This advice also translates well for job interviews in the real estate and property industries. Jane Carey, Director of Edge Recruitment says ‘You can never overdress for an interview. Even if the workplace you are interviewing for is quite casual, we always advise candidates to dress up and present themselves at their best’.
Those in client facing roles not only represent themselves, they also represent the business they work for. Look unprofessional and it makes the business look unprofessional too. So add a little corporate dress finesse to your wardrobe and reap the career rewards!