The Modern Executive Style: How to Rock Your Professional Wardrobe

Have you ever thought about the fact that some of your first decisions of the day could end up being the most important? What choices are we talking about? Your morning ritual of going through your wardrobe to find something to wear. It can be an opportunity for success and a huge confidence booster or could potentially leave a negative impression on your colleagues and clients, depending on your final choice. With so much pressure, you may even feel it’s easier to simply not think about it at all. After all, isn’t it just better to just grab something, throw it on, and go?


Without a doubt, the answer to this question is a resounding, “no.” Of course, you already knew that! The old saying is true, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you already have.” However, that doesn’t solve the problem of making sure that your professional wardrobe is on point each day. If you’re looking to move ahead in the workplace, you need to make sure your wardrobe reflects that.

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If you’re uncertain of where to start, there are a few guiding principles you should keep in mind that will help make sure you’re always dressed for success. Consider these five tips for men and women who want to be fashion forward at the office.

Know the code

Although there are many types of dress codes in the modern American workplace, you can break them down into three main categories. Making sure you know your dress codes and the boundaries and norms within those codes will help you ensure that you’re always on target with your outfit choices.

Formal dress codes mean that you should be well-dressed, and business suits with skirts or pants are the norm. Business casual codes are more relaxed. You’ll find blazers, sweaters, and button-down shirts or blouses are staples for this category. Casual dress codes are the least formal, but casual dress should still be tastefully done. Again, these are general guidelines, so observe your office culture and ask advice from a trusted associate if you need more assistance.

Shoes for the occasion

Shoes for men and women should be stylish, but also should be practical. Making sure they are clean and polished at all times is a must, as a fantastic shoe can be ruined simply by ignoring upkeep or cleaning. Knowing the local shoe cobbler is a secret your boss already knows to keep their favorite shoes looking fabulous.

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Women who prefer to wear attention-grabbing heels may consider keeping a pair of stylish flats at the office to use during the day for comfort. Men’s shoes are often less elaborate, but still require thought. Invest in a quality pair of leather oxfords and make sure you keep them shined properly. Learning how to shine your shoes with parade gloss can often be the difference maker in assembling a complete head-to-toe wardrobe.

Invest in tailoring

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There’s nothing wrong with buying clothes off the rack. However, many professionals fail to realize the difference a small amount of tailoring can make in creating an out-of-this-world professional wardrobe.

Men, are you looking at a retro, plaid sport coat? A tailor will make sure both the sleeves and the shoulders fit just right. Ladies, are you considering the perfect chevron print pants? A tailor will make sure the fit at the waist and the cuffs are exactly where they should be. Although the differences may seem minor, they are a small part of creating a personalized outfit that fits your body exactly as it should.

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Accessorize Appropriately

Accessories are a great way to express your individual style and personality at the office. It’s important to not go overboard with your accessory choices, and stick to sophisticated pieces that complement your attire. A good quality watch in a classic color such as black, brown or navy blue is a good investment piece that is versatile enough to match with most of your outfits and will make a good impression. When it comes to office jewelry, start off with classic pearl earrings, a delicate sterling silver necklace with an elegant pendant and a simple bangle or bracelet, and gradually expand your collection after to include different colors and bolder options.

Be comfortable

When choosing your executive style, you need to make sure you don’t change your look so significantly that you are uncomfortable the whole time you’re at work. One of the best things you can wear is confidence, and if you can’t exude confidence in your wardrobe, then you need to reconsider your large-scale clothing choices.

Written by Casey Pontrelli

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