Apple bottom jeans or fuzzy joggers?
The endless variety in the ways all eight billion of us live is united through the experience we embark on each morning: picking our outfit for the day. We choose clothes that best express us - a pilot would dress differently from a bouncer, a child would dress differently from an adult, and a celebrity would dress differently from an activist. Can you see why we all dress the way we do? Some people are tied to a uniform which instantly shows what they spend their day doing. Others want to publicly advocate for a cause by wearing statement clothing or showcase loyalty by wearing branded items.
Inspiration can be a sentimental meaning such as a favourite T-shirt or an inherited necklace, while for other people, wearing apparel fresh off the runway demonstrates style. The demand for lounge-wear has skyrocketed as most of us have been stuck indoors for months on end, throwing the desire for skinny jeans, uncomfortable heels and strictly tied ties, out the window.
In that time, many people have changed weight, changed jobs, changed style, changed budget and more. As in-person interactions gradually resume, we may find that our previously regular outfits are no longer our taste, no longer fit, or are no longer suitable for this next stage in our life. This can induce fashion related anxiety as we may feel stuck wearing clothes that don't allow us to express ourselves in the way we'd like. Although this is a transitional pain, we hope these seven tips can enable you to dress in a way that ultimately, enables you to be your best self.
1. Understand the assignment
The first thing to do is to make sense of the types of clothes you would need to wear by understanding the dress code. If you're heading back to school or college, you can do this by asking teachers, student mentors or alumni. If you're starting a new job, your employer is likely to mention it but you can ask them to elaborate during the recruitment process or in the induction phase.
Or perhaps you want to avoid initiating conversation about dress code? Alternative ways to find out are by looking at previous yearbook pictures, staff photos, the company website or an online prospectus. Taking the time to work out what you would be expected to wear can reduce the likelihood of being over or under-dressed (which is worse?). Not being anxious about being dressed appropriately will allow you to better focus on the day itself.
2. Spot the pattern
Look at the clothes you already own and work out a pattern between the items you wear often, and the ones you hardly wear. Maybe you wear lots of black clothes with largely statement pieces or mainly cosy material and no denim? Try not to fantasise about potential outfits, be honest, and think about what you have actually worn over the last week or month. That way, you'll be in the best position to move on to step three - determining your style!
3. Connect the dots
From those similarities, identify your actual style; is it based on eye-catching patterns, or is it more preppy and chic? This bit is about finding similar characteristics between your go-to outfits so you can seamlessly fit it into the dress code.
4. Time to break the mould
Next, combine your individual style with the dress code! An example of this would be if you love crop tops but you're working in a corporate bank where showing your belly button piercing is not appropriate (curse the end of working-from-home!), you can pair them with formal, high waisted trousers and a blazer. This step could involve some shopping if you need to add to your collection but it doesn't have to! Use what you have and be creative so that you end up wearing something that you're confident in, but also fits the environment.
5. In it for the long haul?
Stuck somewhere for nine hours or more? Need to navigate a commute? Have multiple events in one day? Bring spare! Spare what, I hear you ask? Spare everything. Spare socks, spare top, spare jacket, spare bottoms. These can all save you when you spill ketchup on your front, get splashed by a car on the way in or just want to change into something comfier halfway through the day. There is nothing worse than having to explain the reason behind a stain to everybody you meet. Speaking of stains...
6. The world is your runway
Check for creases, holes, stains and anything else that shouldn't be there, before you leave, ESPECIALLY on the back. Unfortunately, life isn't a rom-com where the cute IT guy will point out the tag on your skirt and ask you out for drinks. In real life, this can be a lot more embarrassing, and may exacerbate already present anxiety. A bonus tip is to record a 360° view of your outfit and walk in front of the camera so you can see how you look to others - yes you might FEEL like you have a wet patch, but at least you know it's not actually there.
7. Let's get it percolating, word to Mary J
Finally, don't be afraid to repeat outfits and pieces! Clothes are made to be worn so who cares if you wore it on Tuesday? Get creative, swap out pieces, add some accessories, change up your hairstyle and combine different items to come up with a brand new look. What a way to ensure you never run out of looks during the five-day week.
As the hectic nature of the rat race comes back in full force, you may as well look at your best. It's important to not lose your individuality so incorporate that anyway you can, whether that be with impactful pins/badges, meaningful jewellery, your favourite perfume or even funky socks! Life is full of unnerving situations that can make you feel anxious, but nailing your outfit and overcoming these feelings gives you a confidence boost that can make your day feel a bit more manageable.