I have seen many different work environments in Kuwait, from extremely casual to very corporate. It becomes a challenge dressing for work sometimes, and you catch yourself thinking whether a certain shade of pink is inappropriate for a grown woman at work. I believe that it’s always fine to be more formal than everyone else, but you should never be less formal. In real life, it’s not always better to be overdressed than underdressed, but at work, it is. They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. No matter how casual your workplace is, you should probably save your bright yellow shirt for weekends at the chalet.
For the easiest closet navigation (and if you want to be a dork like me) keep your work appropriate tops and dresses in one specific closet. When you open it in the morning this will make your life a LOT easier. I would say, “Choose outfits the night before,” but we all know what it’s like when we’re sleepy and unmotivated to do so.
If you want to get super dorky about it, a friend of mine just told me about an iPhone app called Stylebook. This super time-saving application allows you to organize your entire wardrobe into categories and outfits. It requires effort at first (you must photograph all of your pieces and create outfits) but then it will be so easy to add new items when you purchase them, and to decide what you’re going to wear that very night before even going home! This app would also be ideal for creating a variety of work outfits.
Some great go-to stores for a professional wardrobe are Massimo Dutti, Zara, BCBG and Max Mara. Zara is a definite favorite for jackets, and they always have styles that are as stylish as they are professional. Just because it’s a blazer doesn’t mean it has to be boring! A co-worker wore a pistachio green blazer to work today and it was absolutely divine. Massimo Dutti is always great for tops and pants, and BCBG has tons of great separates and dresses. Max Mara (although pricier) has well-tailored clothing that will last for years.
Of course, there are always special exceptions to the professional rule. Having worked at a fashion boutique before, the rule was the complete opposite. At our office of bubbly and stylish girls, the louder your outfit was the better! Blue nail polish? Double yes. Bright floral dresses? Encouraged. Spiked Louboutins? The higher, the better.
Still, if you’re not at a fashion-centric workplace then you’ll be safer with the previous options. A final word of advice: if you hate heels don’t force yourself to wear them. Nothing looks worse at a meeting than a woman that can barely walk into it. Stick to smaller heels and comfortable cuts unless you are a genuine heel pro. Also, keep the make-up natural. There’s no need for fake eyelashes and red lipstick at the office.
The last piece of the puzzle is your bag. It’s such a headache to keep changing your workbag, so aim to keep the same one for a few weeks at a time so that essentials (your desk key and so on) are not constantly lost in the transfer. This type of bag is what they call an investment piece, so spoil yourself with something you’ll be happy to use day after day.