The smart casual vibe has always added a sense of fear when getting your business outfits right. A good starting point to remember is to that you probably already have many options hanging in your wardrobe that can be worn in multiply ways.
Concentrate on the key wardrobe staples to mix and match. Once you have these, adding different coloured tops, either blouses or t-shirt shapes are a great start.
SUIT Dark trouser suit (I’m counting this as one suit, but obviously it’s two items)
TROUSERS If the above trouser suit has a slim trouser, find a wide leg in a similar fabric, or visa versa.
SKIRT Dark skirt, that suits your shape. Pencil, aline or midi.
JACKET Another jacket, a different fit from your suit style, cropped, blazer or slim fit.
DRESS Simple dress, a go-to style you can dress up or down.
Bottom half garments like classic cut trousers and skirts, can be worn on most occasions, but having a larger selection of top half styles will add the changes. This is what clients and colleagues will notice first. An ivory cropped jacket is a great item to wear with dark trousers, adding new alternatives, as will a simple slim fitting black polo neck.
Do you like bold or softer tones? Both will work depending on your own skin tone and also the make up that you use. Experiment with jewel colours near your face and compare with softer pastel shades in the same lighting. Suiting colours can sway to softer tones like khaki, grey and camel, as these are perfect to mix and match with the darks like navy, black, plum and browns.
How low is your neckline? You don’t want to be worried about details when you are speaking professionally. Yes it’s often flattering to see a little skin, especially under a blazer, but too low or too ‘booby’, will distract from your business message.
A printed dress or blouse under a jacket, can add a creative edge, but take time to find the right amount of pattern. Small to medium prints using two or three colours are often best, especially if one of the colours is black or navy to work with your suiting shade.
Obviously your image has to match your job description and some businesses require more classic looks and others are open to creative expression. A mood board to really helpful to find your preferred looks and then be selective for your own style. Small details, like a simple suit and leopard shoes will add more impact than a leopard print jacket!
A simple white T-shirt will always look sharp under a trouser suit, but it has also got to work on its own once you take the jacket off. Heavier cotton Lycra blends offer you the stretch and non transparency is something worth paying for. Just take care with cleaning by only washing pure whites together.
Neater suit jackets, those that are slim fitting and a little cropped, are the perfect jacket to wear over a dress. Longer, blazer styles suit a slimmer trouser, which can also be in a different colour. Wide suit trousers look great with a tucked in blouse and a pencil skirt works beautifully with simple good quality t-shirt.
Well chosen accessories, like a simple belt for a trouser suit are details that make a difference. The less is more mantra definitely works here. A statement ring requires simple studs and a bold necklace is often enough so play down other areas. Shoes will obviously depend on your job and how often you are on your feet, but comfort, quality and clean, are key words, with a heel at the ready for a quick evening change.
To keep professional, makeup is best when it’s not too obvious. A great base that matches your own skin tone will disappear so that the focus comes back to what you are saying. Simple but effective eye makeup without heaviness is ideal. If you focus on your eyes, keep your lipstick softer, but if you are able to wear a red lipstick, tone down your eyes. Nails are often better in neutral shades or darker power colours, but neat and well groomed is essential.
Tailored suits will always play their part in business but softer options are beginning to creep into the mainstream. Colours are important, and by keeping tones similar, this will create a suit like appearance. Mixing different fabrics including knits instead of woven jackets, allows the overall image to shout confidence.
Focus on key items that fit you very well.
A lint roller, to remove fluff and stray hairs. Look HERE.
Underarm pads to elongate the wear of dresses and slim fitting jackets.
A permanent black marker to touch up a scuffed heel.
A mini sew kit to be prepared for the loose button, one you you might be given from a hotel.
A snag needle, ideal to pull through any tags that catch on your suiting. Look HERE.
A mini steamer at your desk, for those last minute meetings. Look HERE.
Spare pair of the most comfortable shoes when in need.
If you need more direction or feeling stuck in a style rut, take a look at my services, Work with Me. HERE. I would to help you feel amazing in your own wardrobe.