Dress for the job you want

The musts have changed. Writer Lau­ren Chan tells what to wear to nail it now.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glam Careers -

there were many parts of my for­mer life as a plus-size model I found dif­fi­cult: deal­ing with re­jec­tion on a daily ba­sis and pos­ing for 12 hours straight in too-small shoes, to name just two. But get­ting dressed was never an is­sue. With skinny jeans and a scoop-neck T-shirt, I could con­sider my­self dressed for work – a feel­ing that ended abruptly when I left the mod­el­ling world and be­came a fash­ion writer. I wanted to be taken se­ri­ously and I knew my usual dis­tressed denim wouldn’t do it.

When I landed an in­ter­view at GLAMOUR US, I was so stumped that I spent hours comb­ing street-style gal­leries to see what fash­ion edi­tors were wear­ing to work. I got the job – thank you, black jump­suit, menswear blazer, pointy-toe pumps and bucket bag! – but then I faced an even big­ger hur­dle: how to build an en­tire closet of ed­i­tor-level looks.

I’m sure you can re­late to the chal­lenge – be­cause dress­ing for work

has al­ways been tough. You have to find clothes that feel good, flat­ter and fit into your of­fice cul­ture. But these days they have to push your per­sonal brand, too. What’s more, in an age when CEOS wear hood­ies and lawyers sport tat­toos, it’s hard to know what ‘work-ap­pro­pri­ate’ means.

“Be­cause of di­min­ish­ing boundaries and an in­di­vid­u­al­ity-em­brac­ing cul­ture tak­ing over, the idea of what suc­cess looks like is be­com­ing less clear-cut,” says Caro­line Ghosn, founder and CEO of Levo, a lead­ing ca­reer web­site for mil­len­ni­als. In other words, the strug­gle is real! So I set out to de­code 9-to-5 fash­ion in the age of Zucker­berg.

Step 1 Hone your work style

First things first, get to know your work­place’s cul­ture, say all the ex­perts I spoke to. Do jeans get the go-ahead or are jack­ets re­quired? Then iden­tify your own style. Are you a trouser suit per­son? A sheath dress devo­tee? You don’t need

to wear the same thing ev­ery day, but you do want to be con­sis­tent. I stick to menswear-in­spired sil­hou­ettes and al­ways try to wear a heel.

“Ask your­self what you love to wear on your down­time and trans­late that into the pieces you buy for the of­fice,” says lux­ury con­sul­tant Roopal Pa­tel. “If you like colour­ful pat­terns, they should be part of your work wardrobe, too.”

There are, how­ever, lim­its to show­ing your in­di­vid­u­al­ity, so don’t be duped by the In­sta­gram-ap­proved mes­sage of ‘do­ing you’ 24/7 – es­pe­cially if ‘you’ is a mi­cro-mini or mesh crop top.

“Show your per­son­al­ity with­out be­ing dis­tract­ing,” ad­vises Sophia Amoruso, founder of on­line store Nasty­gal.com and au­thor of the mem­oir #Girlboss (Pen­guin Books; R236). “You don’t want fake eye­lashes, boobs pushed up to your chin or too-high heels. A sense of sub­tlety is re­quired at work.”

Sophia’s own style evolved as her com­pany grew. “There was a time when, be­cause I have tat­toos and wore boots to

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