Dressed to Tech

In just the past five years the world of work has changed as well as the clothing we wear for it! Of particular importance is how the tech industry changed the course of business wear as we know it. What was once considered “Business Casual” is simply business as usual. Inasmuch as we want to dress down, it’s still important to look good and communicate instantly our expertise and professionalism. Although suits are definitely not a requirement with tech firms, options might include a jacket and maybe jeans; but there is a right and a wrong way to approach these.
Here are some basic tips for communicating your expertise and position instantly to others:
• Focus on classic styles that have endured such as tailored notch collar shirts and blouses, blazers, A-line skirts, cardigans, trench coats, and shirtwaist dresses.
• Keep the look simple and clean accessorizing for impact with gold, silver, pearls or jewel tones to add sparkle and affluence to your best asset – your face.
• Incorporate fabrics that have body such as cotton/poly blends and heavier knits that are opaque.
• Create a slimmer appearance by wearing darker colors such as navy, burgundy, charcoal and black.
• If in the field, realize that you are communicating the brand image so dress professionally yet comfortably, if the environments vary widely. If jeans are permitted they should be a dark wash, fit at the natural waist, and be hemmed not dragging.
• Build your wardrobe around the neutrals such as black, taupe, navy, camel, gray and olive and add color in tops, scarves and belts.
• When meeting with a prospective client, consider a jacket with a fitted shirt and trousers. Also consider tunic tops with pants and a short jacket for interest. If you want to go sleeveless do so but wear a jacket or cardigan.
• When dining with clients consider simple pants or skirts with interesting tops and jackets. Consider a dark colored dress with a shawl around the shoulders. As well consider a fitted shirt worn out with black pants and a blazer or a mid calf skirt and an over blouse or tunic belted.
• Consider unstructured jackets such as jean jackets and cargo pants with limited detailing but avoid “hoodies,” hats and sweats. Pants and skirts need to land at the natural waist or a little below but avoid hip-hugger styles.
• To create a slim line and add height, incorporate vertical lines either decoratively in the fabric pattern or structurally as in vertical darts, princess seams, or a placket down the front. Also consider incorporating long chains or scarves around the neck, as well, as three quarter length sleeves. When wearing a jacket put the collar up.
• Avoid tight clothing rather introduce simple angular lines such as A-line skirts, tailor-notched collar shirts and blouses and tailored jackets to offset the roundness of the body and bring it into balance. Plain front pants and skirts are recommended over pleated varieties.

Bottom line – realize that your appearance counts at work no matter what you do!


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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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