How can you dress up like a professional but also look stylish at the same time? Looking at professional attire trends can give you a clue.
The evolution of professional fashion
Professional fashion has changed a lot over the decades. In the 1950s, employees dressed up according to what the standards of the day considered “formal.” Today, business environments are more “results-oriented” which means that bosses don’t reallymind what you wear, just as long as you get the job done.
That was certainly not the case in the past as people were expected to dress appropriately when in a professional setting. For women, this meant putting on a silk blouse and tailored wool suits. On top of that, they were required to wear hosiery or stockings and stiletto heels.
A cultural shift occurred in the 1960s which changed the way almost everyone dressed. However, the clothes worn to work environments didn’t change straight away. JFK was elected president in that decade and he and his wife Jackie were pretty fashionable people. As a result, people took cues from them.
For women, dresses were still the norm but it was the decade that saw the emergence of pussy-bow blouses, which were considered the female equivalent to the men’s suit-and-tie look.
Visible change in work clothes started to be seen in the 1970s. Meaning, you can mostly tell whether someone worked in a newsroom or a bank by the way they dressed. This was a decade that also saw men wear their hair longer and grow beards. Women, on the other hand, favored wearing pants in the office. Although the trend was already existing decades prior, it was now pretty widespread.
The 1980s was a time of perms, sequins, and bright colors. The workplace, however, saw women adopt a more masculine way of dressing, which included the use of shoulder pads. This trend continued until the 90s but was overtaken by “business casual.”
Today, it’s pretty normal to see someone wear a t-shirt to work, especially if they work in the creative sector. Although more traditional mode of dressing still prevails in accounting, finance, or law offices, work clothes now come in many more varieties so people can still be stylish while maintaining a conservative dress code.
Shoes: Whether you’re stuck to a desk or need to be on your feet the entire day, you have to find the right shoes. Classic pumps in neutral colors are always a good investment since they can be paired with a range of outfits. Loafers or flats also make great additions to your shoe collection.
Skirt or pant suits: You can wear a shirt or a blouse underneath and even use the pieces separately.
Shirts and blouses: These can go underneath your suit or as a solo piece paired with skirts or pants. It’s important that you pick sensibly-priced pieces since you will be wearing them every single day. It isn’t worth it to spend a fortune on a piece of clothing that will lose its luster in just a few months.
Blazers: Having a few of these in your closet can help you make a fashion statement. You can start off with one or two then gradually add to your collection. For those working in business casual settings, a black or a navy blazer pairs really well with jeans and a blouse.
Knee-length pencil skirts: Get one or two of these to pair with your shirts, blouses, and blazers. You can add more later on.
Dress pants: You can choose either full-length pants or the ankle-length ones. Having a few of these allows you to mix and match with blouses, shirts, and blazers.
Sheath dresses in neutral colors: These are great investments because they work no matter the season.
Sweaters: It doesn’t matter if you opt for one in a crew neck, a V-neck, or choose to get a cardigan, these can be paired with skirts, paints, and even dresses. To maintain a formal tone, choose one in neutral colors.
When it comes to choosing an outfit for work, it’s always best to consider your comfort. While you might want to be stylish, don’t forget that you have to be in the clothes you’re wearing for the entire day. It is possible to be both professional and stylish.