Thursday, November 7, 2013

Starch and Slacks

Photos by Turk Ismail
“Tomorrow for your presentations, dress business casual.” Immediately I am disappointed.  I mentally sort through my closet, throwing out almost everything. Nothing brightly colored, no leopard, and definitely no stand out jewelry. I can almost smell the iron heating up to remove the wrinkles from my starchy collared shirt. My mind goes to grey, black, navy, and white, the designated safe colors of the business world.  As a girl who greatly appreciates the value of neutrals, an outfit dominated by structure and dull colors leaves me yawning. I must abide by the unspoken rules of the professional world who demand the predictable business basics. In a field saturated with people dressed in the professional palette, how can a person stand out? The business students from Trendsetters at The U, use stylish and trendy pieces to create a unique look and catch the eye of a potential employer.

1) Add a printed blazer. The professional world is bossed around by blazers.  An easy way to add interest to your outfit while still maintaining the business look can be achieved through a patterned blazer. I chose this floral blazer from a consignment store as the focal point of the outfit.  The pattern creates interest and a unique twist without being overpowering or distracting.

2) Embrace a different type of material
Kelsi, a senior marketing student, embraced two trends for this outfit: a patterned blazer and different material.  Aside from adding interest with a striped blazer, Kelsi chose a nontraditional blouse.  Her chambray button up upholds the standard structure with an uncommon material.  The combination of the trendy denim material with the classic construction of the shirt is a perfect complement to business neutrals that break monotony.

3) Use statement jewelry and mix patterns
Mary, a senior management and international business student, sports two ways to diversify your business wardrobe: mixing patterns and wearing statement jewelry.  Both of these trends can be risky in a professional setting. Lucky for Mary, she does both perfectly and simultaneously! When mixing patterns, choose subtle prints. The patterns need to complement each other not overpower.  When mixing patterns, choose pieces that share similar color tones. Notice how Mary’s top and skirt are neutral colors but with two subtle patterns she looks stylish and far from ordinary.

To complete her patterned collaboration, she chose a nude beaded bib necklace. Mary’s necklace works with her outfit adding interest and not overpowering.  Choose accessories for your business outfit that does not distract or overpower.  You want your employer or client to see you, not the clanking bangles on your wrist.

4) Throw a professional blazer over a dress.  Blazers, blazers, and more blazers! This item is the easiest way to look professional.  I’ve had this purple and grey dress for years! Alone, the dress is in between casual and business appropriate. By adding a basic black blazer over the purple ruffled neckline, the outfit is propelled to be presentation worthy.  Finally, to add a little character I chose my black and leopard wedges.  These shoes are appropriate with this look because the shoe is dominated by black and the wedges are relatively low. From the front the shoes are basic black, but from the side the outfit is enhanced with a touch of leopard print.

5) Add color.  Give your business professional attire a punch of color! Kelsi finds a balance between neutrals and color with this turquoise blouse and mustard yellow belt. She is able to express her individuality through the color while maintaining a business appropriate appearance. Again, use color to enhance not distract.  Make sure the colors you choose complement your outfit and personal style.

In the past, I thought boring and business casual were synonymous. Now, I am learning that fashion and business apparel can work together.  The key to achieving a stylish and professional appearance is to find a balance. Equalize your trendy items with the business basics.  Your outfit should look collected and professional while making a statement about who you are.  The rule of thumb for a stylish professional look is to enhance not distract. By implementing some of these Trendsetters at the U tips your fashion sense will stand out in a sea of suits!