Feeling the heat? In my part of the world, we’re having a heat wave which makes getting dressed for work a bit more challenging than usual. It is possible though to feel cool and comfortable and look good in the office without resorting to short, shorts and strapless dresses.
The secret for getting dressed for work for summer in the city is a core work wardrobe.
A core wardrobe allows you to mix and match pieces in endless ways to create outfits that you will feel cool, comfortable and confident in. You only need a few items that work well together and add in one or two accent pieces to liven up your look.
Before you compile your capsule wardrobe, do some research to create your personal brand “look book” of clothes, hairstyles and shoes – inspirational looks and colours that appeal to you. Don’t think about the prices, what should be work outfits or play outfits, or where to buy these items. Just collect examples at this stage and soon a pattern will emerge. Keep them in a folder, on a cork board or a Pinterest board.
This is the foundation for your brand style.
Review your own wardrobe first. The idea is to cull down to only what works for you and start to build on that foundation. Try everything on. If it doesn’t fit or is tatty, get rid of it. If the colour doesn’t work with your complexion, get rid of it. Using your inspiration board, look at what’s left. Are there outfits that you can compile straightaway?
Once you’ve sorted through your wardrobe, can you determine if you have a certain look, a set of colours, or a signature item that could set you apart?
For your core summer business look choose classic pieces for your basics in neutral colours, navy, black, tan, grey or white. Natural fibres that are washable will breathe and be cooler to wear. Linen blends can work well but stay away from polyester – too hot.
3 bottoms e.g. 2 pants and one skirt.
Choose linen or cotton blend pants. One pair could be straight leg and one pair of wide-legged pants for a more modern look. For a cool version of a skirt, choose a fuller skirt, to the knee or below or a midi length, slip style skirt rather than a tight-fitting pencil style skirt.
4 tops e.g. linen vest, 2 short sleeved shirts, 1 good quality, ribbed top with sleeves.
1-2 dresses. Choose comfortable, classic styles such as a belted, sleeveless shirt dress in a block colour or a simple patterned wrap dress. There’s no “rule” about sleeves vs sleeveless.
Choose one outer layer such as a linen blazer for when air-conditioning is too cool or when you need to look more polished.
You may find you already have several of these basic items in your wardrobe. With four tops and three bottoms you can create many different looks. Just make sure every item is different and they work in with at least two other items of clothing. This way you get more outfits from fewer clothes. Add in a blazer and a couple of dresses and you’re good to go.
If you need to go shopping, put together a list of several items that will work with what you have already and a wish list of a few items or outfits that will help make your “look” go from good to great. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can just add in a few new pieces to give your wardrobe some life and reflect your personality. Think of your wardrobe as a growing, evolving adjunct to your personal brand and not a static object without any life.
Every so often it pays to review your visual image through fresh eyes. You can seek advice from a trusted image advisor, friend or shop assistant or consider a do-it-yourself make-over.
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Sue Currie is an image entrepreneur who guides and empowers business leaders and entrepreneurs to have “Spotlight Confidence”. She is passionate about helping professionals elevate their personal and professional brand through her speaking, coaching and training programs on Self-image, Style and Speaking Skills, providing a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.