Working Your Personal Style into Your Professional Wardrobe

Does your wardrobe reflect who you are as an individual or as a professional? That is somewhat of a trick question, because ideally your wardrobe should reflect both. And believe me, it is more difficult than it sounds.

Each office has a different dress code, which is easy to work with once you have the items in your wardrobe to fit the guidelines. However, fit and tailoring and style aside, what does your work wardrobe say about you? Is it a set of clothing that you look upon similarly to those that you would wear to a private school – you wear them to work and wouldn’t dream of touching them on the weekend? Or do you practically take the weekend into the office?

One thing I would never suggest is to sacrifice your personal style to fit into your office dress code. Your work is part of your life, and you want it to be fulfilling and as productive as the effort you put into it – why wouldn’t you at least want to feel like yourself during this process? If someone would see your headshot and ask, “Is that you?”, that’s not a good sign. In the era of Facebook and Twitter, you need to appear accessible to all audiences of those who you’ve surrounded yourself with. And that means, start with your own style and then work your work wardrobe around it, not vice versa. That way you will be recognizable to all you know from friend to colleague to client – it also shows everyone that you are not hiding behind different looks, which would cause them to wonder if they were dealing with the real “you” and if you can be trusted. If you don’t differ too greatly stylistically from venue to venue, then who’s to question that you aren’t being sincere to everyone you come across?

Let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself what your favorite clothing item is. Is it the pair of knee-high boots, the chunky necklace, or the wrap dress? Whatever clothing category that item falls into, make sure work on that category for your work clothing. So if you adore your knee-high boots but all you own for work shoes is the same worn-down pumps that you’ve had for three years, get some new work shoes. You will no doubt have much more of a spring in your step even through those tedious trade shows.

If you love the chunky necklace but you don’t have one that quite works with your blazer or blouse, find jewelry that makes a statement with your work clothing without being too gaudy. Find a great pendant, a vintage brooch or a statement ring or metallic bracelet that will bring just enough bling into your working look. If the wrap dress is your go-to piece, then you are in luck as most offices believe that the wrap dress is very office-friendly! Just make sure it is at least knee-length, and I would suggest wearing a slip or a tank under it as most wrap dresses have quite a low-cut neckline.

The clothing that we love often makes us feel beautiful and confident – why take that away during the work day, which is usually when we need beauty and confidence most? It can be the simple addition of a favorite bracelet or the addition of a belted cardigan. You needn’t buy a whole new outfit. Whatever you need to do to add some of your personal style into your professional wardrobe, do it!

Rachel Yeomans

Rachel Yeomans is the President and Founder of business fashion consulting company, RachelAnna Consulting, and Creator/Editor-in-Chief of business fashion blog, You can follow more of her business fashion thoughts and tips for men and women through her Facebook Fan Page at, and Twitter account @theworkwardrobe.