How to dial your style up & down
Packing for a business trip
It’s an interesting phenomenon. I’m finding that I don’t want to get as dressed up as I used to for work type events and feel happier ‘dialled down’ a notch or two in terms of my level of dressing/formality since lockdown. Many people I talk to are feeling the same. We’ve got used to being comfy in our joggers and slippers and only having to be presentable from the waist up on Zoom calls.
My usual garb when presenting myself in a business situation would be dress and tights with a nice pair of low heeled/wedge shoes. on a recent business trip I got my clothes out ready the night before as it was an early start for the first day’s training but ended up pulling out my jeggings, a tunic, scarf and sparkly trainers that morning. It felt more ‘me’.
Make your wardrobe work for you
The 4th element of my Project FAB! 4 step framework is ‘Sustain’ and I explain about the levels of dressing within this. This element is where you begin to analyse HOW to make your wardrobe work for YOU in a practical way so that the contents are earning their keep.
The concept is that when you start to look at your lifestyle, there will be no more buying for buying’s sake or having loads of nice going-out clothes but nothing that lights you up for work. You’ll know where your wardrobe gaps are and shop with focus, so you end up buying fewer items but loving and wearing those that you’ve got.
You bring together everything you’ve learned about your style personality, the colours that suit you and the styles and shapes that flatter and look at how you then dial up and down depending on the occasion, while still sticking with your style recipe. You’re still dressing like yourself and expressing who you are but in a way that is right for different situations or environments, so you always have “comfydence”.
Levels of dressing
Everyone will have different levels of requirements to gauge. What might be casual for you could be going out wear for someone else. There are no right and wrong levels; it’s all about you working out what is right for you and how many categories you need to do the exercise – you choose your levels and give them a name/number.
Everyone’s needs will be different, and the process is about looking at the clothes you wear, your hair styling, make-up usage, accessories etc. and how much you add or take away, depending on the level of dressing you’re aiming to achieve.
Super casual – This might be what you wear around the house, the kind of thing you’d be okay answering the door in. For some it might be pyjamas, or loungewear, or clothes that you’ve bought specifically for wearing in the house but wouldn’t go out in.
Casual – For me, this would mean leggings, tunic top and scarf, maybe a cardigan, probably Birkenstocks in summer, and trainers, ballet pumps or biker boots and a casual coat or jacket in cooler weather
Smart casual – This, for me, would normally be the kind of clothes I would wear for working if I was going out to meet a client, going to a networking meeting, speaking at an event etc. I would usually wear a softly structured dress with empire line, V or scoop neck and three-quarter sleeves. I’d have tights or leggings under my dress and flat ballet pumps, boots or low-heeled shoes
Workwear – For me this is the same as smart casual; depending on what you do for a living you might wear more business-like attire or even a uniform.
Evening out – So for me, this would be how I dress when I go to a pub or a house party – glammed up a bit.
Formal – For this level, I’m talking getting properly dolled up – weddings, balls, gala dinners, cruise wear, going to the races etc. This is when people often get freaked out and feel totally out of their comfort zone, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you know your recipe and still apply it. It’s easy to level up by changing the type of finish on fabrics but you can essentially still wear things you are comfortable in.
Easyn wins for elevating your personal style
TIP: Easy wins for elevating the level are swapping out basic fabrics for more sumptuous ones such as silk, satin, lace, velvet, brocade, devoré; costume jewellery; accessories such as scarves/wraps/stoles; shoes with a shiny element such as patent leather, satin or embroidery or another embellishment.
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