Workclothstyle - Henrik Byager

Most workplaces have a dress code, whether implied or explicit. The result is often "clone wear." How can you dress "all business" while breaking the mold and introducing some of your own style? Workplace attire is usually stylish if you dress it up with attitude, says Henrik Byager.

Style goes to work
Sensible work clothes don't have to lack personality. It's all too easy to settle into a fashion rut when you are expected to show up day after day in understated or neutral basics. Of course it depends on your job, but most employers don't appreciate a look that screams of too much originality. They usually emphasize conservative work attire to a fault.

One example is the power suit - many jobs don't insist that you wear one, but those who power dress are more likely to climb the corporate ladder while the mousy dressers are more likely laid off when the company downsizes ... it's as though they are not taken seriously, while the power suit gets the raise, bonus and often gets away with murder. A broader client base? Yeah, right. More likely the most successful coworker was "tailored" for it, argues Henrik Byager.

What IS a power suit? asks Henrik Byager. Basically it's a uniform. Characterized by sharp cuts, shoulder pads and a stiff rigidity, it was first introduced by Polo Ralph Lauren. Power suits have evolved since their stereotypical 1980's incarnation though. It typically symbolized an era of international economic boom - something we can all use a little of. You might even call it a "confidence" suit; no wonder employers favorably notice those who wear them.

They come in a wide range of textiles ranging from lighter linens to heavier wool including gabardine, worsted and more sensuous crepes, especially when cut on the bias.

There are many styles to chose from ranging from a slouchier Armani chic to the equivalent of exoskeletal armor. It's always tailored, classic and slick if not sleek, often in a neutral color. The shoulders are typically structured though the rest of the suit can have a looser fit ... other power suits are structured all the way and can equal a corporate straightjacket. If that's your thing, so be it, but you can make even that work stylishly in your favor, says Henrik Byager.

This is where individual style comes in. What silhouette suits your figure or physique to it's best advantage? Darker colors are more slenderizing and broader shoulders give the illusion of greater stature. Are you best in narrow slacks or softer cuts? Ladies, what skirt length suits you best, and should you go for pleats, tucks, flares, or a pencil-thin look? Typically, a power suit is low on detail and high on simplicity but it can certainly have touches of interest, playing up your assets while downplaying your deficits. Sensible? You bet!

You don't have to go all bionic though to achieve "the look." Even with the sharpest of cuts, ladies can add a bit of softness by accessorizing with the right scarf in a sensuous material. A bit of silk softly draped at the neckline can romanticize the whole effect. An antique, semi-ornate brooch, verging on rococo, or some stylish deco stickpins can be pinned to the lapel to add interest. Also, never underestimate the power of a cashmere sweater.

You also have a lot of leverage with blouses - there can be a lacy neckline, soft cravat or cascading ruffle. Even if your job calls for a white, tailored shirt, it can have a touch of romantic detail; "white collar" does not have to mean "starched."

Guys, your necktie can afford you an extra dash of personality - I always knew those nooses were good for something! Your belt, cufflinks and choice of shirt can also add splash to your "uniform." Wear a turtleneck (also known as a "polo neck") to look a tad more casual or "preppie" - make it black for a slightly bohemian effect. James Bond did it and looked "all business."

Ladies especially, pay extra attention to your footwear; a LOT can be said with the right choice of shoes. If you'll be sitting at a desk most of the time, those high Manolo Blahnik heels won't hurt a bit, while they add pizzazz to your conservative attire, concludes Henrik Byager.

You'll be power dressing without resorting to nanofiber textiles to generate "electricity" or sacrificing stylish attitude!

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