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How do you dress professionally from head to toe in 2018? Whether you are a man or a woman, it used to be as simple as throwing on a suit. Nowadays, with the advent of the “business casual” look, you have to straddle the line between modern and professional wear to keep with the times. How does one do that? Here are a few hints to get you started:

Hair

Both men and women should strive for a neat, conservative style. Women should try classic hairdos, such as buns and chignons for long to medium hair, and bobs or pixies, perfectly maintained, for short hair.

Men can blur the line between traditional and classic haircuts, with the modern pompadour, crew cut or comb over. If hair tends to be on the longer side, slick it back or try a low ponytail. Man buns are never appropriate for the office!

Jewellery and Accessories

Both men and women should display minimal jewellery and understated accessories. Quality is always more important than quantity. An elegant bracelet or ring along with a conservative watch is much more than enough. If bold statement jewellery is your style, dress it down by pairing it with a simple outfit. Also, ladies, a quality leather clutch or a canvas messenger bag in a neutral hue is always more advisable than toting around a colourful, loud pocketbook.

Makeup, Nails, and Fragrance

Makeup should always be light and natural-looking. It is meant to enhance a woman’s features, rather than becoming an attraction on its own.

A woman’s nails should also be neat and well-manicured. They can be painted in nude tones, or any appropriate solid colours, however wild hues like green or yellow are not acceptable. Men should keep their nails trimmed and clean at all times.

Neither men nor women should overdo it on the fragrance, either. Not only is it unprofessional, but others in the office may suffer from allergies. Therefore, as a courtesy, perfume, cologne, and aftershave should be minimised.

Clothing

Professional clothes can vary depending on whether your office adheres to a “business professional” or a “business casual” look. Just remember, even when allowed to dress in a business casual manner, the “business” takes precedence over the “casual,” and certain rules must be observed.

For women, business professional usually means investing in a classic pantsuit with a coordinated, collared, solid-coloured blouse – usually in a traditional material such as silk. Or, you can pair a fancy blouse with a good pair of tailored pants. However, women should probably lean toward a skirt suit in more conservative environments.

Another smart business professional choice for women is a simple day-to-night dress; not more than two inches above the knee. It works well during the day with tan or light-coloured pantyhose and a blazer over it, then remove both and it can be easily accessorised and dressed up for a night on the town.

For men, business professional is much simpler. It starts with a conservative, well-tailored suit in a basic colour like black, grey, or navy blue. This should be paired with a long-sleeved shirt in either crisp white or a pale blue shade. A man may add French cuffs to make the outfit pop, but they are not necessary. Also, a tie, dark socks, and a leather belt are must haves! Just make sure any tie chosen doesn’t have a pattern that is too distracting, or better yet, does not have one at all.

For the business casual look, women have many choices. They can wear neatly pressed pants or skirts made from corduroy, cotton, khaki, or twill. On top, a loose sweater or twin set, or a polo shirt will do. Bright colours, crazy patterns, and shimmery or velvety materials are still not appropriate, and should be avoided.

For men, business casual could mean gabardine, cotton, or khaki pants with long sleeve, button-down cotton shirts, pullover sweaters, or any type of polo shirt with a collar. Ties are optional.

Shoes

Both men and women need a few pairs of moderate, professional shoes to top off their business wardrobes. For him, leather shoes, without any logos or buckles, in a dark brown or black hue should work nicely. They should be pristine and well-polished at all times.

For her, closed stiletto pumps or a pair of sensible flats in solid colours should do the trick. Any shoe that is simple and elegant, yet still comfortable, is best. Boots can be worn under slacks or with a pantsuit, but you must never wear sandals.

In conclusion, remember that in the office, appearances still matter. Not only are you making a great impression by dressing professionally, but it tends to pay off more in the long run. Simply because of how you dress, bosses may take you more seriously, you are more likely to receive promotions or raises, and you may tend to command more respect from subordinates and co-workers.

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