How to Dress Professionally & Comfortably

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You want to dress professionally and comfortably at work no matter your career. Many people think that professional dress equals feeling uncomfortable or stuffy; however, you can easily combine style and comfort when choosing your work attire. Dressing professionally and comfortably depends on your workplace dress code and personal style. Office workers might opt for a cozy cardigan and slacks, while a nurse can wear breathable women’s scrubs for maximum comfort and functionality. Consider the following tips to help you dress professionally and comfortably for your job.

Understand Your Workplace Requirements

To choose suitable clothing for work, you need to understand your workplace requirements. Many companies implement dress codes for their employees to present a particular image to clients or customers. Some workplaces, such as those in the healthcare industry, have required dress codes for the safety of their staff and patients.

When picking professional and comfortable clothing for work, familiarize yourself with your job’s specific requirements. Workplaces with a business casual dress code may allow you to wear comfortable clothing options like cotton-blend slacks or skirts, loose blouses or shirts and soft sweaters. These items give you a professional look while keeping you from feeling trapped by tight or structured clothes like blazers, neckties or pantyhose.

If you work as a nurse in a healthcare setting, wear fitted, solid-colored scrub tops and bottoms to give you a professional yet comfortable feel. Patients may perceive solid-colored scrubs as more professional than patterned options, so choose a color and cut you feel at ease in.

Consider Your Personal Style

Consider your personal style when selecting comfortable yet professional attire. You know what fabrics, cuts and accessories make you feel the most comfortable versus those that cause you to feel too dressed up or restricted. You can work within general professional work attire guidelines to create a look that keeps you comfy without sacrificing your professional aesthetic. For most work environments, the following rules apply to professional dress:

  • Avoid revealing clothing.
  • Wear minimal jewelry, perfume or makeup.
  • Opt for fitted or tailored clothing versus baggy or too-tight options.
  • Choose a pattern and color appropriate to your profession.
  • Put on proper footwear for your work environment.

Considering these guidelines, think about your personal style and what items you can wear that make you feel comfortable in your own skin while sticking to a professional look. Choose colors that complement your skin’s undertone and a cut that flatters your body type.

If you work in business or retail, this may mean wearing flats rather than heels or subtle-colored blouses and cotton skirts rather than a formal business suit. It may mean wearing cute patterned scrubs to show off your style while adhering to the established nursing dress code for other industries.

Explore Different Work-Appropriate Choices

If you feel stuck with your current work wardrobe, you can branch out and explore other work-appropriate clothing choices to find a style that is both comfortable and professional. Looking into new clothing options and styles can boost your confidence at work and help you move into a new wardrobe that elevates your look while retaining comfortability.

If you have always been the type to wear a button-down shirt and slacks, opt for a cotton jumpsuit with a blazer or cardigan and subtle jewelry accents. Try platforms if you typically wear pumps and want to move to less formal footwear. For those who must wear a uniform like scrubs to work, you can explore different scrub styles, cuts, colors and patterns. If you only wear navy or gray scrubs, buy a few pairs of brightly colored pink, green or purple options. If you always wear the classic scrub pants, try out the more updated jogger, drawstring, or tapered designs.

Build Your Wardrobe with Multiple Options

One of the most significant aspects of dressing comfortably and professionally is to have a readily accessible wardrobe with multiple options. Building up your wardrobe choices gives you daily options, which can help you choose the outfit that you feel most comfortable in, depending on your mood. It also gives you the freedom to choose pieces to elevate your professional appearance if you have an important meeting or performance review that needs an extra special look. Fill your closet with an array of items like:

  • Dress pants in black, blue and gray
  • Rayon or silk blouses in multiple colors and patterns
  • Heels, platforms and flats for footwear options
  • Professional dresses and skirts in both subtle and bold battens
  • Several choices of blazers, jackets and sweaters for layering

If you work in healthcare, stock your closet with scrubs in various colors and patterns. Buy staple pieces like pants, jackets and tops in neutral colors like tan, navy and white and bright colors for days when you feel like jazzing up your outfit. Depending on your work environment, you can also fill your closet with patterned options, such as illustrated characters, holiday-themed elements or flowers.

Invest in High-Quality Items

One mistake people make when choosing comfortable, professional clothing is buying cheap items that don’t last. Filling your closet full of poor-quality pants, sweaters, dresses, scrubs or slacks means spending more replacing items that get damaged easily.

Cheap fabrics tend to wear out more quickly, causing uncomfortable balls of fiber to bunch up and rub against your skin. They may tear at the seams or wear out in high-friction locations such as where your thighs meet or at your knees or elbows. This pilling and worn-out look leads to an unkempt or non-professional appearance. Instead of buying cheap clothes, opt for mid-range, high-quality items that are affordable and long-lasting. For example, if you work in healthcare, choose durable polyester-spandex scrub pants that withstand several washes after your shifts.

Dress in Comfort and Style for Your Profession

Dressing professionally can help give you a skilled, knowledgeable appearance, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of comfort. By considering your workplace requirements, building on your personal style and exploring multiple job-appropriate clothing options, you can find items for your work wardrobe that give you both comfort and style while remaining professional for your career.

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