You Are What You Wear, Especially at Work

By contributor Sharon Powers

Building the quintessential wardrobe is likely to be tied more to your job than any other facet of life. For many of us, work drives our cash flow, influences our style and often begs for comfort after a long day at the office.

The  array of pattern, fabric, color and fit of the garments dangling from your closet tell a story, and that story is about perception. Whether your style is boho-chic, retro-glam or modern, people judge who you are by what you wear.

Khristian Howell, a designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple and HGTV Magazine, embraces a very deliberate style in her creative field.

“What I wear is so much tied to my personality and how I want to project my point of view to the world. I suppose this can hold true for any profession,” Howell stated. “The ironic part of all this is I don’t wear a ton of pattern.”

Howell is big on the elegance of simplicity. Less, oftentimes, is more.

“I am most interested in shape, and the construction details that can make a simple item spectacular,” Howell said.

The clothing items we wear, powerfully, yet subtly, communicate our qualities to the world. This is where it pays off to invest in quality pieces.

And although dress codes are loosening up across many industries, that doesn’t mean a sloppy look is going to fly. Don’t let these business casual trends make you less intentional about how you stock your wardrobe.

You want to give off a vibe of unflailing confidence, right? How about exuding competence and being seen as trustworthy? Conveying your intelligence during your next evaluation isn’t a bad idea either.

All these qualities will garner respect and admiration from your colleagues.

Regardless of where you work, there’s one achromatic shade you’ll want to stock up on. It sends the message loud and clear that you mean business and don’t mess around.

The color, black, is pretty much synonymous with beau monde.

the Flyback Lace Top by Surf Gypsy 
the Noelle by DREW clothing

(Photo Credit: Alex Maier, for

A study found that black clothing had respondents assigning the most favorable qualities to people. These are killer attributes like being sexy and competent. You can’t go wrong with either of those traits.

Leah Price, a personal stylist in the Washington, D.C. metro region, works with people across all industries and understands how work culture can influence sense of fashion. She also believes that clothing is a reflection of one’s personal qualities.

“Clothing is connected to the way a person feels and can have quite an impact on their professional clout,” Price said in an interview. “A person’s sense of style can convey confidence, authority, and intelligence. On the other end of the spectrum, style, or lack thereof, can convey insecurity, being unapproachable and appearing self-conscious.”

So if you want to continue to be gainfully employed, and have your co-workers and bosses hold you in high regard, amp up your style this season.

You are always making an impression.

Price is of the mindset that work clothes can blended with your casual-wear. It’s all about versatility.

“I recommend investing in classic, modern pieces. These pieces will never go out of style and can be paired with tons of other pieces, Price shared. “And then if you do want to try a trend, you already have all the basics covered and can mix and match.”

Thanks to Howell and Price, we’ve developed a seasonal guide on  wardrobe essentials to fit a host of professional industries.

Tech: While pretty much anything goes in the tech world, a bomber jacket paired with classic white sneakers are a great way to look put together, on trend and clever. Check out the White and Black Blazer by Drew clothing:

the Valerie by Drew clothing

(Photo Credit: Alex Maier, for

Arts/Design/Creative Types: If you work in the creative space, people expect an outward display of personal expression, so deliver on this. A jumpsuit and modern geometric necklace make a winning combination. Take a look at the Ali sleeveless jumpsuit by Riller & Fount and the mini atomic collar by Cities in Dust.

the Ali Jumpsuit


the Atomic Collar 

Khristian Howell’s top picks are: The Maria Longsleeve Tee by Project Social T,  Beau & Ro’s Convertible Clutch/Cross-body bag, and Cities in Dust Bar/Ball Cuff Bracelet in Bronze.

Business/Finance: Be about the bottom line by asserting your confidence and expertise. Take note of the sharp and polished aesthetics of the Gemma tailored charcoal blazer by Drew Clothing. The faint frayed edges will inspire that tenacity within.

the Gemma by Drew clothing


Education: You are in a position of authority, while serving as a role model to those who learn from you. Set an example by exuding comfort and style. This smart and versatile Splendid Winward Stripe Surplice top will transition nicely from the classroom to your weekend plans.

the Fiery Red Surplus Top by Splendid

Government/Law: Looking for just the right functional and fashionable tote for those nights when you have to bring some of your work home. Working long hours is no fun, but you might as well make your strong work-ethic look good.

Check out the Beau & Ro’s Tan Convertible + Backpack.

the Convertible Tote/Backpack by Beau & Ro

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