Fashion expert Clinton Kelly once said, "How you dress tells the rest of the world how you expect to be treated." And while sweats, hoodies, and sneakers certainly have their place in the world, wearing them around the office might give others the wrong idea about how you expect to be treated.
In the past decade, the landscape of business professional attire has changed. You can still expect to see pant suits and cufflinks in Wall Street offices, but you can also find jeans, t-shirts, and converse in the workplaces of highly successful companies, like Facebook and Google. Dressing for success across varying business environments is a skill that can and should be honed, especially for rising entrepreneurs. While your skills and experience certainly represent the core capabilities you possess as a professional, being able to present yourself well is also vital part of making a strong first impression.
As business culture and trends continue to evolve, staying on top of style etiquette becomes more relevant than ever; and as the job landscape becomes increasingly competitive, putting your best foot forward and making a killer first impression becomes more necessary than ever. Let's look back at some of the most noteworthy and resilient trends in professional wear from 2016.
Professional Trends of 2016
1. Leaner fitting suits
For men in particular, slim fitting suits have become more popular. People have moved away from the normal fitting suit, as the excess fabric tends to make men look bulky and sometimes frumpy. Suits that hug the body more closely, specifically shirts with "darts" in the back that facilitate a tapered, snug fit, and pants with a flat front design, are taking center stage as the modern suit. Suit authority Jos. A. Banks regards baggy suits as "so 2000s," and is insistent that, for most men, a slimmer fit has a more flattering and polished look.
2. Structured bags
In lieu of a briefcase, structured bags and totes have taken over as lifestyle bags. In 2016, women adorned larger bags that can easily house both work and professional items in one contained spot. Men have adopted the same trend, with a move away from the traditional briefcase and towards structured, cross-body messenger bags.
3. Lifestyle accessories
If you work in an office, it seems the hot item to have is what I like to call a "lifestyle accessory." The rise of the Apple watch, Fitbits, Polar, Android, and other smart watches has bridged the gap between wellness and work hours. More than a traditional leather banded wristwatch or the luxury item of a Rolex, professionals have opted for multi-functional watches. Now, you can read and respond to messages right from your wrist, keep track of how many calories you've burned throughout the day, and even communicate with your coworkers through wellness challenges.
4. Day-to-Night versatility
One professional trend that will never go out of style is happy hour, which is why day-to-night outfit versatility is such a priority among young professionals. Being able to slap on some lipstick or cologne and recycle your work wear right into an evening dinner or get together for drinks is key.
As you may have already guessed from 2016's top professional trends, the intersection of convenience and style is a priority for the modern professional. We asked Jeremy Miller, an operating partner from Alteration Specialists in New York City, for his top tips on dressing for success, following trends, and packing a punch with your presentation. Here's what he had to say:
Tips on Dressing for Success
1. Always consider your body type when buying clothes or making alterations, because not every style works for every figure. Buy pieces that complement your natural body type and can be tailored for an even better fit, and really listen to the salesperson or alterations specialist that's working with you, because they might see something you don't.
2. Accessories can transform your outfit, so make sure you have a couple of go-to pieces. Maybe it's a lifestyle watch or a pair of high-end shoes. Or maybe it's a pair of nice glasses that enhance your facial features. These details will bring together the final, refined look you want.
3. With the right fit, you can dress comfortably without sacrificing style. Sure, it's frustrating when an article of clothing is really popular and simply does not work with your body type. But you can still have style without following every last trend by ensuring the quality and fit of your pieces. Chanel said it best, "fashion passes; style remains."
4. Mixing your high-end pieces with more affordable garments can really stretch your wardrobe. For instance, combining an Alexander McQueen skirt with an H&M blouse, or pairing some Brooks Brothers trousers with a Banana Republic factory outlet button down. The result will be an in vogue outfit that gets you more outfits and wear from your clothing.
Putting effort into dressing well can really help you appear and feel more confident-a trait that many successful people share. If looking the part helps you feel that you really are the part, you'll have the self-belief to perform your best while looking your best.