I worked in an office for four years in NYC while living there. It was a great experience and taught me a lot of things. I had moved from London and was the new girl. Over and above the hard work you need to put in to prove to your peers you're one of them. I found it was deeply important to make sure you look the part too. It's about being respectful to your colleagues, your boss and most importantly yourself!
Being a woman is an empowering thing. However it can be hard in the workplace to find suitable outfits that translate the message you want to convey a serious, hard working, dynamic persona to the world . You have to find the right balance of strong yet feminine. Here are a few key pieces every budding business woman should have in her closet.
1. Crisp white shirt - You can never go wrong with a good white shirt. It's a timeless classic that can take you from day to evening. From Intern to International business woman. Make sure you know how to iron though, it needs to be immaculate. Nothing says power woman like one of these. White is alway a great way to brighten up dark office attire of greys and navys. It also works with every color combo so if you are strapped for time in the morning this is a no- brainer. Just make sure you have a good nude bra for underneath.
2. Tailored jacket - this can dress up jeans or a t-shirt very quickly. It can be worn over dresses, shirts, trousers and skirts all year round. It's a staple everyone should have in their cupboard. It's formal and can be styled all sorts of ways to complete an outfit. It's so easy to pick one of these up with all the high street stores having them year round. When trying them on check the shoulders sit in line with your shoulders and that the sleeves are the right length. Better longer sleeves than too short as you can always have them altered. Make sure you can close the jacket comfortably but at the same time you don't want to be drowning in fabric it should fit well enough that you can button it if you wanted.
3. Find your perfect shoe something that is comfortable yet sleek. Preferably that you can wear everyday. Try loafers or a flat suede boot. Heels are always an option I prefer a demi heel for work no platforms, please save these for after work drinks. There's a fine line with heels between power woman and dance floor queen. Save those party shoes for after work if you think they are too high or too out there then they probably are. I love color, sparkle and shine but you don't want your colleagues to think you came straight from the nightclub to work.
4. Power pants. I call them this because they really do hold the power of the world. Control pants, Spanx, shape wear whatever you choose to call it. Invest in some. Underwear is the foundation onto which every great outfit is built .It sucks you in, makes you look sleek and linear. A good pair of shaping pants can literally change any outfit. It can make that skirt you always wanted to wear, but didn't quite think was flattering enough work.
5. Conversational piece - wear one thing that identifies you that's memorable. Something thats a conversation starter. So when you're in the line for coffee or stuck riding the elevator someone can strike up conversation easily with you. It's a great ice breaker. Nothing too big and obtrusive. Something like a colorful bangle, a bright scarf, a chunky ring. It also adds a little flavor and excitement to your office wear. It's always great if there is a story behind it perhaps it was your mothers handbag when she was your age or a chunky necklace that you picked up while on a road trip. Make it special and unique to you. Because you are special and there is no one else like you so in a sea of navy suits fly a little flag on that outfit that helps distinguish you from the rest.
6. Hair and Makeup - it's impossible to look immaculately coiffured when you start your day at 7am, every second more of snooze on your alarm is gold dust. I'm a great believer in less is more. Keep skin moisturized, staring in front of a computer and sitting in air conditioning or heating and harsh lights can play havoc on your skin. Keep it hydrated and it will thank you . Then do minimal makeup so you look fresh and dewy rather than caked on foundation and heavy eyeliner an lipstick .Find a signature hair style that works for you a sleek pony tail, messy bun, braid whatever it is make sure you feel good about it. Nowadays with so many fantastic youtube tutorial around you can learn how to blow-dry your hair in three minutes. Remember if you are asking yourself if you should wash your hair... you probably should. Being clean and tidy is and indicator of how you are in your work. It shows you care. Fragrance is always lovely just be careful its not too overpowering and you only spray a light amount. If you've ever been stuck in a meeting with someone who has over perfumed yourself you know it can give you a real headache.
It may seem really simple but these were all things i did to help me acclimatize to working in a new office and i found them super helpful and i hope you do too.