Via Who What Wear : Entrepreneurs Agree: Everyone Should Own This One Piece for Work
It would be impossible to sit here and declare that everyone’s work wardrobe should look the same. Given that dress codes vary widely, from strictly corporate to relaxed casual, an outfit that works for one office might not work for another. But no matter what your work environment warrants, there’s one clothing item that’s been deemed an absolute must-have by women who successfully founded their own businesses: a tailored black blazer.
We interviewed seven stylish women behind the businesses we love as part of our Female Founded series (which you should definitely check out, if you haven’t already). Each of them shared their personally valuable pieces of advice on how to dress powerfully and professionally, but almost everyone agreed that a solid black blazer was the number one piece to invest in for work and beyond. Below, read what they have to say about this key piece.
Our very own Clique Brands co-founder Hillary Kerr: “A really beautifully tailored blazer will get you through so many situations. Wear it with a skirt or trousers for more formal days or with jeans for a more casual look; it’s so versatile and will always ensure you look professional.”
Finery co-founder and actress Brooklyn Decker: “If all else fails, a T-shirt and a blazer will serve you well—in the office and out.”
CultureBanx founder Kori Hale: What’s the number one piece to invest in for a work wardrobe, we asked? “A good blazer that can be worn year-round.”
Via The Street : Experts Explain What Smart Casual Is and How to Wear It in 2018
You’ve heard of business casual and business professional – so, what is smart casual? TheStreet asked experts what dressing smart casual for the office actually looks like.
In the ever-changing modern office, dress code is the one thing that has remained largely ambiguous. And while other office guidelines for decorum, employer/employee relations and punctuality are typically clearly laid out, the ever-elusive “office dress code” usually isn’t.
So before you go buy a dozen t-shirts or a suit in the name of “smart casual,” you might be curious – what does it actually look like for the office?
TheStreet asked experts what practically dressing “smart casual” is for men and women.
What Is Smart Casual?
Smart casual is a dress code that is typically comprised of well-fitting, neat and appropriate pieces that are slightly less formal than a business casual or business professional dress code. However, smart casual is much more elevated and put-together than dressing for off-hours and avoids items that are too casual or loose-fitting.
Getting its origins as far back as the 1920s, the term “smart casual” has evolved over the decades to its most common connotations today.
But, how do experts define “smart casual”?
According to Dave Arnold, President of Arnold Partners, LLC and executive recruiter for the tech industry, dressing “smart casual” is much more about elevating typically casual looks.
“Smart casual is employing finer-quality clothes that are still casual but well-fitted, in-style and of good fabrics. Smart casual does not imply flashy or flamboyant,” Arnold told TheStreet. “Take a look in the mirror before you leave the house and smile. This should never be construed as arrogance or trying to out-dress your peers. It is a matter of looking sharp and in-style. As a recruiter I look for people who have self-confidence and self-awareness – how they dress and how they carry themselves is part of this.”
In fact, Arnold claims that, as a recruiter, dressing smart casual as a default for interviews can be essential to getting the gig – and eventually getting promotions as well.
“For interviews it is tricky. You need to learn the culture of the company before your interview. If possible, go a day before and watch people come and go from the building to get a sense of the dress code, or find a contact on LinkedIn who works there and ask them,” Arnold advises. “Dress one level above your interviewer. Have your spouse, roommate, best friend, personal shopper approve your outfit.”
But apart from the recruiter perspective, stylists have their own definition of smart casual.
For Diane Lloyde Roth, who has dressed CEOs and celebrities alike as the owner of the luxury boutique L’Armoire in New Canaan, Conn., smart casual is much more about making sure you are focusing on how your clothes fit and if the individual pieces look put-together.
“This is not the time to use a cheap blouse or T-shirt that is wrinkled and does not fit correctly,” Roth says. “You are supposed to look smart but casual, not like you just finished a workout or pulled your clothes out of the hamper! Smart casual is perfect for an outing with business associates, especially during the daytime when you will be out of the office or not in a formal environment.”
The transitional nature of smart casual – from the office to an event or lunch meeting – seems to be a major aspect when picking out your daily ensemble, according to these experts. Will Noguchi, head stylist at Bombfell, claims as much. The men’s stylist has worked with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Covergirl, Harper’s Bazaar Greece, Vogue Portugal, Vogue Arabia and more – and certainly knows a thing or two about styling customers for the office.
“The idea behind smart casual is to dress ‘smart’ by looking professional while also being approachable and ready for any occasion,” Noguchi told TheStreet. “My smart casual mantra is ‘elevated basics.’ When shopping, look for well-fitting items in solid colors that are a step above your casual wear. Items with elevated trims, buttons, and finishing details help dress up your look and allow your basics to be more office appropriate.”
The Importance of Dressing Well
But apart from looking nicer, multiple studies have shown that dressing more professionally (as with a smart casual dress standard) can actually lead to more CEO-like qualities.
A study done by Yale in 2014 used a sampling of 128 men between the ages of 18 and 32 to participate in mock negotiations. The sampling was split into three groups – one that dressed “poorly,” another that dressed neutrally and one that dressed professionally. While the groups dressed poorly and neutrally amassed hypothetical profits of $680,000 and $1.58 million respectively, the participants who dressed professionally generated a hypothetical average profit of $2.1 million. And while the study certainly doesn’t take every situation into account when dressing nicely for work, there are dozens of other studies that point to other benefits of dressing well – including promotions and raises.
A 2015 study by the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal concluded that people who dressed more professionally had better big-picture-making skills and exhibited higher levels of abstract thinking. The study was performed on 361 participants in five different sub-studies.
But apart from stronger big-picture thinking, dressing better may actually correspond to promotions in the workplace.
In fact, a recent survey by OfficeTeam concluded that 86% of professionals and 80% of managers claimed that clothing choices affected someone’s chances of being promoted.
As a tech recruiter, Arnold claims as much.
“Dressing well everyday once you have your new job is also important. Well dressed people are generally more confident and perceived to be well organized,” Arnold added. “Dressing smart casual will lead to faster promotions and a stronger reputation in the workplace. It just needs to be done with a dollop of class and not be over the top.”
So, how do you actually dress smart casual?
How to Dress Smart Casual
Much like the style itself, dressing smart casual seems to have shifting parameters depending on the particular office. Still, TheStreet got some helpful tips from experts for a variety of work environments and personal styles.
Consistent throughout their tips, stylists and recruiters generally concluded that dressing “smart casual” is more about pieces that are elevated from what you might typically wear. For example, several stylists suggested taking basics like tailored dresses or pants and paring them with nice but more casual pieces.
Smart Casual for Women
Women generally have more of a range when dressing for work. And with so many more options than their male counterparts, it can be that much more confusing when determining what “smart casual” actually looks like (especially when office guidelines are ambiguous).
Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director for OfficeTeam, claims that you might not even have to change your wardrobe too much if you already have business-appropriate staples.
“You may be able to mix and match elements from formal and casual dress codes and add certain accessories to show your personality. For example, a tailored cotton casual dress with a formal blazer could be considered smart casual,” Naznitsky wrote in a note.
But for women, what kinds of things are good for smart casual?
Elements of Smart Casual
For the most part, a rotation of dresses, blazers, cardigans, tailored pants, heels and khakis are generally appropriate. But the main thing experts stressed was not to try to be too flashy or trendy, and to instead focus on accessorizing or using unique design elements to dress up a regular, well-fitted outfit.
“Smart casual is more about the ability to mix pieces in a polished way than about the actual pieces themselves. For example, a blazer works for both smart casual and business casual,” Maria Turkel, a stylist and former TV wardrobe supervisor told TheStreet. “Wearing a blazer in a smart casual way is more about the ability to create outfits using color, pattern and texture.”
When she isn’t helping dress clients at Fortune 500 companies or start-up CEOs, Turkel, as a wardrobe supervisor for the classic TV show “Friends,” helped dress the likes of Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer – and claims the experience helped her get an idea of what “smart casual” was.
“The characters on ‘Friends’ always dressed smart casual by the simple fact that every single piece of each outfit was thought out and worked on by a team of people – the costume designer, wardrobe supervisors, producers and actors all weighed in. Color, pattern, texture and proportion were all major factors in creating each outfit for each character in each set. Think of Ross’ suits – rarely did he wear a basic white or blue shirt and navy suit. The overall outfit was defined by tone and pattern,” Turkel said.
Focusing on color, pattern and proportion are a big part of a smart casual outfit.
Instead of wearing a basic T-shirt, try one that is more refined, with better quality fabric. Turkel also recommends not wearing anything too low-cut (including pants), and to stick to well-fitting classics like pencil skirts or tailored pants. In terms of jeans, Turkel advises to only wear them if you are sure others in the office will be doing the same.
For a nice, put-together smart casual outfit, Turkel recommends spicing up your ensemble with a printed blouse with additional style elements like a tie around the neck or piping down the front – and perhaps pair it with a nice wool sweater in a solid color.
Roth seems in agreement, although she claims that if your office is a bit more casual, items like jeans, nice T-shirts or jackets may be appropriate.
“Employers want to see someone that knows the difference between dressing for work, home or a nightclub,” she says. “They want someone who takes pride in her appearance, because that will translate into her work. Smart casual shows that you have a brain and that even while you are dressing casual, you are putting thought, and pride, into your appearance.”
Smart Casual for Men
With the general blurriness between business casual and smart casual, especially for men, what options are there?
If you’re stumped, Arnold recommends enlisting expert aid.
“Get some help. High-end department stores have personal shoppers to help get you started,” Arnold suggests. “There are several misconceptions – one, you need not spend a fortune to look good. Two, you need not look like a magazine model to look good. Three, If the people around you dress really casually you may actually stand out too much. Dress one level above the mean.”
So, what constitutes “one level above the mean” for men?
Elements of Smart Casual
Most stylists pointed to fit being the most important element of dressing smart casual for men. Ensuring all pants, shirts, cardigans and blazers are tailored or well-fitted can make a huge difference.
Still, there is definitely more to a “smart causal” wardrobe than just making sure everything fits your body.
“After fit, I suggest diversifying your layering options. Wearing more than a shirt and pants instantly elevates your style and gives you a more polished aesthetic,” Noguchi said. “My three must haves for a smart casual lifestyle would be a sharp white button down shirt, tapered navy chinos, and a casual layering piece like a knit blazer or a fitted cardigan.”
Additionally, Alex Sumner, creative director for Acustom Apparel – a styling service for men – recommends following a simple acronym: “K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid. Clothes should frame us and reflect that we are intelligent, adept and savvy,” Sumner said.
Dressing up more casual pieces like loafers or sneakers by opting for luxury brands or keeping a well-fitted, neutral blazer on hand do the trick for smart casual in or out of the office.
“What I would always suggest doing is erring on the side of being over-dressed rather than underdressed,” Sumner suggests. “Having a wonderfully fitted and classic navy and grey suit allows you the flexibility to wear each of those for a business meeting and thus you can transition easily in a bit more dressed down way with perhaps the blazer and dress slacks or khakis.”
For both men and women, “smart casual” is much more about elevating basic pieces and ensuring you are matching (or better still, one-upping) your colleagues’ level of dress.
“Regardless of how trends might change, having well fitted, classic designed garments with simple colors and patterns will always reflect smarts,” Sumner says.
Smart Casual Faux Pas
Still, there are definitely a few things you should avoid when shopping for smart casual pieces.
Some of the major fashion faux pas that experts have spotted in dressing smart casual tend to revolve around being too casual or oscillating to the opposite side of the spectrum and going too flashy.
“Never come across as flashy or showy, and stick with colors that match and don’t overdo patterns,” Sumner says. “Do not fall prey to fashion trends or the whimsical dictates of magazines espousing you seek to be a hip dresser. What worked for my father at Yale in 1945 is still apt for our 16-year-old son at St. Mark’s boarding school in Massachusetts,” Sumner says. “Classic style that is simple and clean always wins the day!”
Wearing things that are too busy or with complex prints is a common faux pas, according to Noguchi, along with baggy or poorly-fitted clothing for men.
The objective for smart casual remains fairly simple: “You want to look clean, neat and pulled together. You want your outfit to appear thought-out, not thrown together,” Roth says.
Along the same lines, those like Turkel claim that even wearing fabrics that are too casual (like T-shirt material or cotton) can come off as too casual, as can low-cut shirts for women or skin showing around the waist.
A tip to avoid being too trendy or flashy? Keep your outfit focused.
“One way to almost always hit the mark: have a focal point to each outfit,” Turkel recommends. “Want to wear a bold patterned jacket or sweater? Then keep the rest of the pieces more sedate.”
Where and When to Wear Smart Casual
Well, obviously the office. But there are other occasions where a smart casual ensemble is appropriate and can help you plan for going from work to outside events.
When dressing for an interview, most experts suggested putting your best foot forward when dressing up.
“The art of dressing for an interview can be a tough egg to crack, but sticking to the ‘smart casual’ aesthetic is a great jumping-off point,” Noguchi said. “Keeping with elevated basics allows for the interviewer to focus on what you’re saying and not what you’re wearing.”
But apart from the boardroom or your interviewer’s office, smart casual is meant to transition.
“Evening networking and business cocktail parties are ideal for smart casual, unless the event invitation specifies a more conservative or black tie dress code,” Turkel says. “Daytime luncheons and conferences are also ideal for smart casual. If you own your own business and see clients throughout the day, smart casual makes sense: polished enough for meetings, but casual enough for running errands in between or heading straight to school pick-ups and events.”
Are Offices Becoming Smart Casual?
It certainly seems so.
For Arnold, the tech space especially has become a more casual atmosphere.
“It has devolved to jeans and T-shirts in many tech companies,” Arnold explained. “You can still dress smart. Well-crafted jeans, well-tailored T-shirts and in-style shoes all put together can make a subtle but noticeable difference. In my view it has become more casual, sort to the Mark Zuckerberg effect.”
But even if you don’t work for Facebook, you may be noticing a move toward this pseudo-“smart causal” code.
“As office environments diversify so do the dress codes,” Noguchi said. “Aside from maybe banking, most workplaces are allowing their employees to ‘dress appropriately.’ Not only does this allow employees to be more comfortable, it also lets them express themselves through their clothing.”
Offices everywhere are increasingly becoming more open-ended when it comes to dress code (hence the confusion over appropriate attire in the first place). But an easy way to ensure you are always dressed properly for your job is simply to ask.
Asking your boss or fellow employees what your office deems as “smart casual” (or business casual for that matter) can be a really simple way to get it right the first time and help yourself avoid any awkward run-ins with HR or colleagues over dress code issues.
Via The Irish News : Fashion: Tips on how to look the part when you’re going for a job interview
Want some advice on what to wear to a job interview? Katie Wright asks fashion historian Amber Butchart for her advice
INTERVIEWS can be extremely nerve-wracking affairs, especially if you’re in the running for your dream job, so doing everything you can to boost your confidence is a good idea – and that includes your outfit.
“A job interview begins with first impressions, and your clothes and grooming are a key part of this,” says Amber Butchart, a fashion historian and expert who has appeared on the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee.
Butchart is working with careers app Debut on its ‘Dress to Impress for £10’ campaign, which is currently running and involves more than 650 charity shops.
Representing 42 different charities, each shop will curate a selection of workwear staples priced at £5 each in order to help jobseekers find affordable interview clothing.
“Overall, it’s really important to wear something you feel comfortable, confident and smart in,” Butchart says.
“Your clothes can affect your body language and the way you project yourself to future employers, so it’s of utmost importance that you feel like the best version of yourself.”
Follow the fashion expert’s advice and you can achieve just that. Here, she shares her top tips for sartorial success…
Research the dress policy of the company
“This will not only allow you to turn up to the interview properly attired, but will show you’ve taken time and consideration before you’ve even arrived.”
Don’t be afraid to wear colour
“…but not too much. A shock of colour can help to make you stand out and make a bold statement, but avoid clashing prints or colours unless your interview is working in the arts or creative industries. (While I am a huge fan of clashing colours and prints, I’m aware not everyone shares my passion!)”
A suit isn’t essential
“Smart separates can be better than an ill-fitting or poorly-made suit, so don’t be beholden to the idea that a suit is an essential.
“However, a well-fitting suit in a contemporary cut is always a winner, so don’t be put off by worries that you might look too formal.
If in doubt, dress up
“Remember that the interview is how you’re selling yourself, so it’s not unusual to dress slightly more formally than you would for the position itself.
“Avoid jeans and T-shirts unless you are really sure that the company has a relaxed attitude to dress, or actively encourages casual dressing (for example, the tech industry). Even in these cases, it might not be appropriate for an interview.”
Choose your shoes carefully
“Shoes are important, but there’s no need to spend a fortune to look appropriate. Avoid open-toed shoes (flip flops are absolutely out), but white, low-rise sneakers (think Adidas Stan Smiths) have become something of a fashion classic in recent years, and can add a fresh, contemporary element to your professional look.
“Don’t feel you have to wear high heels to an interview, but if they make you feel confident, wear them with pride!”
“The details matter: make sure your socks match and your clothes aren’t creased as otherwise this could reflect poorly on your organisational skills.
“Everyone should avoid clothing that is too tight or too baggy or too sheer. You want to feel comfortable, presentable and professional.”
Via Quartz : Who do you dress for when you dress for work?
This is a story of sartorial glory and dressing for success, yet not to impress the boss or anyone in your office. It’s a tale for the internally driven and the growing number of us who work from home.
Last year, more than 5% of US employees worked from home full-time. A 2016 survey of 15,000 people found that 43% of workers spent at least a part of their time working remotely. That means nearly half of us could labor naked if we chose to do so. No one would ever know.
So why bother getting dressed?
Clothes do not truly make the man or the woman. Still, psychologists have found that what we wear impacts our thinking. A 2015 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science measured how subjects performed on a series of five cognitive tests when dressed in both formal and casual clothing. Dressing elegantly, it turns out, increased abstract thinking, which is associated with creativity and long-term strategizing.
Researchers believe that the reason for the improved performance in formal clothing is that people simply feel more powerful and capable when dressed for business. “The findings demonstrate that…the clothing worn influences cognition broadly, impacting the processing style that changes how objects, people, and events are construed,” they conclude.
Style and substance are intertwined. Form and function work together on an unconscious level. Besides sending signals to others, what we wear influences self-perception, so wherever you work and whether or not anyone shares the space, it’s worth trying to make a good impression on the one person you’ll never escape—you.
The associations we make with garments affect cognitive processes, a phenomenon psychologists in 2012 named “enclothed cognition.” Wearing certain things gives us a sense of competence, and even how an item is characterized will change the way we perform in it.
Call a white cotton smock a doctor’s lab coat and people feel more focused, according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Yet the same garb, dubbed a “painter’s smock,” made subjects no more focused than they had been wearing street clothes. “[E]nclothed cognition involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors—the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them,” the researchers argue.
If you work from home, wearing a lab coat would feel absurd. And donning a three-piece suit to sit alone at a computer is absolutely unnecessary. Indeed, that level of elegance isn’t called for in almost any setting today, given the casual tendencies of the postmodern workplace.
Silicon Valley in the 1980s brought us not only new technology but the advent of “business casual,” a relaxed approach to workwear that transformed our idea of power dressing. Looking like a billion bucks does not require a business suit anymore. Tech magnates don’t dress up (except when testifying in Congress). They wear turtlenecks, expensive T-shirts and hoodies, or increasingly, vests.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have taken a cue from these dudes who profess not to care about how they dress. For example, Katie Notpoulos of Buzzfeed News tried a one-week experiment wearing a “power vest” to see if it would make her feel like a “tech bro.”
It didn’t work. ”Instead of feeling powerful, I felt like a fucking dork,” she writes. “I’m not the most fashionable person in the world, but I like to look nice and I care about clothes. A good outfit can make me feel good, and wearing a blazer makes me feel professional.” She decided the power vest is a form of male privilege.
As a vest-wearing woman, I have to disagree with this conclusion specifically but not the underlying sentiment. I see Notpoulos’ angle on blazers (wear one over a power vest!) and certainly agree that what works for Jeff Bezos doesn’t necessarily work for the rest of us, especially not women.
Notably, even the seeming carelessness of Silicon Valley superstars is contrived, as stylist to the tech set, Victoria Hitchcock, tells Vox. Her clients spend thousands of dollars to be coached in the art of ”effortless style.” They hire her to create a wardrobe that only seems uncontrived but is actually carefully studied.
“I want my clients to look like they don’t care,” Hitchcock explains. Yet she also wants them to understand that being invested in their appearance isn’t stupid or superficial. It is life-affirming.
The spirituality of superficiality
As Hitchcock points out, dressing well is a recognition of personal value. You could dress to impress your colleagues and probably pull off going to meetings in your underwear with just a shirt on if you work from home. But doing so robs you of the power that a good outfit provides.
It’s also living a lie, as if we exist only in the eyes of others, as if we need to dupe people into believing we’ve got it together while secretly being whatever it is you are when you work in your skivvies. If anything, it’s more important to have a personal sense of order than it is to prove to anyone else that you are somehow normal or appropriate.
Your colleagues probably don’t mind if you wear a ball gown and tiara, a tuxedo or boxers, or your pajamas. But we don’t exist for others to approve of us. Ideally, we do the things we do to impress ourselves and be our best, to express a sense of inherent dignity, whether in a T-shirt and jeans, a power vest, or a dress.
I’ve worked at home full-time for more than two years and no editor will ever know what I wore while drafting stories. The creatures that do see me—a cat, a dog, and a man–do not visibly pass judgment. Still, I get dressed every morning, donning my uniform of the moment. Usually it’s just jeans and a button-down shirt purchased in four different versions which I switch every few months—my last few phases were flowered, all white, then pastels, and I’m currently into overpriced striped T-shirts. Sometimes I wear a dress to sit alone at a desk where no one will see me, and like the lab-coat experiment, I’ll also don a blazer on occasion to adopt a professorial or lawyerly mindset or to channel the writer Ray Bradbury.
Even if my colleagues saw my look, they would probably not be impressed, nor would it register as dressing for work necessarily. That’s not the point. My uniform, though simple, works for me. It demarcates the line between night and day, rest and labor. It imposes order, sends my mind a signal. It’s like making the bed in the morning, brushing my teeth or washing my face, a way to mark the official start of the day.
Clothes serve as meditative aids. Getting dressed is like ringing a meditation bell. The superficial is spiritual. According to the Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa in his classic book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, caring for oneself and one’s appearance recognizes that the gift of existence involves upkeep. It’s not egotistical as much as it is mindful—and it doesn’t matter what we wear as long as we choose our clothes carefully.
The 17th century Japanese poet Ueshima Onitsura didn’t dress for anyone else. In a haiku, he put it best. “Though I have no lover, I too rejoice: the change of clothes.”
Via Harpers’ Bazaar : What to Wear To A Fashion Internship
As told by our very own Harper’s Bazaar Arabia assistants
Making a good impression at your first day on the job is always important – when it’s in a fashion office, you’re expected to bring sartorial your A-game. Ahead, four Harper’s Bazaar Arabia assistants reveal how to look polished and professional without compromising on your personal style.
Angelique Gourdon, digital assistant
“Never wear more than one statement piece. I also usually don’t wear more than two colours. Simple-chic is my motto.”
Jude Bawalsa, fashion & beauty assistant
“Don’t be afraid to mix casual with formal. Grab your fanciest skirt and throw in a graphic tee with sneakers – that’s my go-to outfit.”
Georgia Withers, digital assistant
“For work I always go for ensembles that are feminine mixed with smart-casual. Accessorising with a nice belt and good shoes goes a long way and makes outfits more versatile. If you want some height then opt for midi block heels, so you can last the day.”
Natasha Law, events assistant
“I always go for a minimal and clean aesthetic at work. I think it’s important not to surrendor to trends and just dress according to your body type. I love to mix it up with a smart all-black look and comfortable flats for out-of-office meetings. On a more relaxed day, I’d wear a pretty printed linen top paired with white smart-casual pants and delicate sandals. It’s so hot in Dubai so layering isn’t much of an option.”