It wasn’t too long ago that I despaired of having to attend out-of-the-ordinary events or meetings for work because I didn’t have the attire for it. I could have counted the number of business casual (forget straight up business!) clothes in my closet on one hand. Of course, none of those items matched, and most of them dated back from college, so you can imagine the pathetic state my work “wardrobe” was in.
Back in February, I decided that I’d build a professional capsule wardrobe. Since I was starting from scratch, it made the most sense for me to approach my professional wardrobe in a pragmatic way, and I thought a capsule wardrobe would be the way to go for that. That didn’t work out the way I thought it would, mainly because I’ve strayed from the rigidity of capsule wardrobes in general. But as I built my professional wardrobe, I did focus on pieces that would mix and match, on items that I’d get constant wear out of, and on outfits that would ~elevate~ how professional I looked in the workplace.
The last six months I’ve spent working hard on building my professional wardrobe have paid off, because I am fully confident that I’m “dressing the part” for my job now. Also, I look pretty awesome when in a pencil skirt and button down and nice flats. I look like I mean business, which is exactly the look I’m going for, as opposed to the casual, laid back look I have whenever I wear jeans and a casual top (my old look in the office, and still my look after hours or on weekends).
I have pencil skirts that are dry clean only now. Button down shirts that need to be steamed before wearing so that I’m not rocking a wrinkly professional look. Blazers that fit perfectly to my shoulders and elbows and torso. Pants in neutral, office-appropriate colors that match everything. Dresses that aren’t too short or too revealing. Pumps and nice flats in a variety of colors (but again, all neutrals).
When I open my closet, I sometimes marvel at the marked change my wardrobe has undergone this year. It helps, of course, that I did a big purge of my regular clothes last fall, and continue to weed out items that I don’t get wear out of. Cleaning out my non-work wardrobe has gotten a lot easier now that it’s not my primary wardrobe, as it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly what I’m not ever reaching for in my closet. Now, my closet is bursting with my professional wardrobe, and my steamer is getting the most action of its life every time laundry day rolls around.
No longer do I have to worry about having literally nothing appropriate to wear if I’m notified that I have to attend a big deal meeting the next day. No longer do I have to wonder if I’m seen as the young (read: immature) member of staff, who does good work but may not be taken seriously by colleagues because of my wardrobe. No longer do I think to myself, “Can I even fit in the lone button down shirt I’ve had since college??” (The answer to that is no. Absolutely not.)
The best thing about dressing the part at work now is that I feel less like a person with imposter syndrome, and more like a person with the right chops and acumen for my job. An outfit doesn’t make me as a person, of course, and I’m phenomenal at my job no matter what I wear. But attire does help a lot with shifting my mindset. It’s borderline ridiculous, the effect clothes can have on me, but in this case, I’ll take it.