For more tips, also check out our newest article on how to dress for work over 40.

I have wanted to write an article on how to dress for the workplace for quite some time now. So when I was approached by stylist Nola Johnson to do something for the site, I thought it would be a perfect topic for her. I’m sure I will still tackle this topic in the future as well, but for now here are her thoughts.

There are four simple rules that I like to keep in mind whenever I’m rummaging through my closet or shopping for work appropriate clothing:

1. Comfort=Confidence

The age-old misnomer is that work appropriate clothing and accessories should hurt your feet, constrict arm movements, and overall be uncomfortable. If you find yourself wiggling, smoothing, checking or straightening a handful of times before you even leave the house, change. When your clothes cause worry you can’t exude confidence and when you aren’t confident you don’t look as polished or professional as you could.

What to look for when seeking comfort?

  • Natural Fibers (Cotton, Silk, Linen, Wool)
  • Lined Pants, Blazers/Jackets (keep fabrics from clinging to body)
  • Sweater or Knit Blazers/Jackets (less structured)
  • Mid-Heel height (2 ½’’ or less) or Platform Heel

 2. Layers are Key

If your office is anything like mine, then you experience a variety of temperatures throughout the day, from chilly conference rooms to downright balmy offices. Plan accordingly. This does not mean that you should keep your favorite college sweatshirt at your desk; rather, always try to have a neutral cardigan or jacket available. Here, we have a jewel neckline black jacket that can be paired with either the shell and capri pants or ikat print dress.

3. Create a Focal Point

In order to create a cohesive look it all begins with a focal point, or lead piece. Teams, much like outfits, become unsuccessful when they have too many people vying for a leadership role. Pick one piece of clothing or accessory to steal the show, think of it as your team leader.

What to wear for work over 40

 Can you find the focal point of these two looks?

On the left, the statement necklace is going to be the focal point of this look. One might argue that the kitten heels could also be a focal point, but the v-neck of the t and jacket draw your attention to the necklace, while the long trousers will primarily cover the shoe.

The floral pencil skirt is going to be the focal point of the look on the right because it is the dominant pattern of the look. Here, the shoes and necklace only serve to compliment the skirt by not overpowering it with a competing pattern or color, like red polka dots might do.

4. Build a Collection

Before you add a new piece to your wardrobe ask yourself, “What three other pieces does this match?” You don’t want to build individual outfits that have no relation to other looks in your closet. Instead, build a collection of pieces that are easily interchangeable with one another.

On the first style board the accessories and shoes will go with either look, so what was once two looks has grown to four.

On the second style board, not only will all the accessories go with either look but the tops are also interchangeable, bringing your total collection of looks within this post to eight.

Now that’s a collection and you’re ready to head to work in style.

For more tips, also check out our newest article on how to dress for work over 40.

Do you have a favorite tip or piece that you can’t wait to try?

Nola JohnsonAbout the author: Nola Johnson creates style boards for customers and provides affordable styling options and a customized shopping experience. More information about Nola and her services can be found on her website.

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