I was lately promoted at an inventive nonprofit. Though individuals in senior positions gown a bit extra formally, I’ve slid into leggings and an oversize shirt/gown/tunic as my typical wardrobe based mostly nearly solely on consolation. Now that I have a senior place and a larger wage, I need an up to date look, however I don’t wish to come throughout as inauthentic. How do I do that with out seeming as if I’ve gotten too massive for my britches?
— Patricia, Williamstown, Mass.
Congratulations in your promotion! The excellent news is you aren’t alone in having to determine tips on how to talk the brand new you upon a return to the workplace. Thanks to a 12 months of distant work, many people are in the identical boat. Your scenario simply occurs to be extra official than most.
The very first thing to think about is what you wish to convey in your new place; what unconscious levers you are attempting to push. Generally, if the thought is to speak authority and confidence in addition to creativity (qualities that make your crew really feel safe in your management), the only most vital message in any merchandise of gown, whether or not it’s leggings or a trouser go well with, is mindfulness. That means no wrinkles, dangly threads, moth holes or stains, and no garments that require fixed fiddling and adjustment.
But that doesn’t imply garments with no persona.
The different excellent news is that any previous allegiance to the concept that a extra senior job essentially means dressing in a extra “serious” or besuited manner has more and more misplaced its cred. Women like Marissa Mayer and Mellody Hobson, with their clear love of trend and femininity and their whip-smart minds, have just about put an finish to that shibboleth. And after a 12 months in sweatpants, nearly something qualifies as dressing up, which implies your choices are huge open.
To that finish, reasonably than “dress for the job you want,” it is best to “dress like the person you admire.” And in the case of trailblazers in your discipline, it’s possible you’ll assume, for instance, of Thelma Golden, the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, who has a singular and putting private fashion. Though she nearly solely wears items by her husband, the designer Duro Olowu, and his work can be out of attain for a lot of, you possibly can take a cue from the best way his designs combine prints and colours all inside easy, simple silhouettes.
Then, reasonably than take into consideration a wholesale wardrobe reinvention, take into consideration a few key items you possibly can incorporate into your current wardrobe. Add a patterned wrap gown, like this one from & Other Stories or a shirtdress like this one from Cos, either of which you could wear on its own or layer atop leggings or pants. Choose a graphic jacket like this D’Iyanu number, which can provide a striking accent, or play with clashing stripes, as in this shirt from Alex Mill. And consider the jumpsuit, which combines tailoring and comfort for days when you are doing some actual heavy lifting.
After all, there’s a lot that can be done within a very basic canvas.
Your Style Questions, Answered
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.