Wow, this turned into a two-month project on getting dressed for work! I hope breaking it down into sections like this is helping you build a work wardrobe that’s Affordable, Appropriate, Comfortable, and Beneficial. Accessories – that’s your jewelry, belts, scarves, and shiny hair-things – are the icing on the cake, and a good way to add personality to what might be a bland dress code. Changing up your accessories is a cheap way to update your wardrobe when you don’t have the budget for new clothes, as a lot of the things I’m going to talk about can be had for cheap, both at retail stores and thrift shops. Here’s a tip: if your neighborhood or town tends to have good garage sales, get some cash out and hit them up one weekend. I bet you come away with a ton of new accessories for a handful of couch change.
Let’s go over some rules for keeping your accessories from getting in your way while you’re working – if they’re a pain to manage all day, they’re not Beneficial.
- Consider Your Earrings. If you work in an office, there’s a chance you’re on the phone a lot. If you’re wearing large, heavy earrings, there’s a good chance every phone call you make starts with a loud clacking noise as your earrings collide with your phone’s receiver. Consider small earrings to circumvent that, and also to keep them from getting caught in your headset or headphones if you use those. Why make it harder on yourself to do your daily work?
- Watch The Bling. You love shiny things? Me too! Just remember that too much sparkle can be distracting, and you might be giving off an ‘I’m here to party’ vibe as opposed to an ‘I’m here to work’ vibe. There’s no reason to be boring, but a whole arm full of sparkly bangles is likely better for Da Club than it is for giving a PowerPoint presentation to your boss. Much like with your hairstyle, you want your accessories to help draw attention to you and what you’re saying, not to themselves. Make sure your look is working to showcase you, not cover you up.
- Hair Accessories and Hairstyles Have the Same Rules. If your adorable hair clip is falling out all day, it’s neither Beneficial nor Comfortable. If your headband gives you a headache after an hour of wearing it, it’s not Comfortable. Give your new hair accessories a trial run on the weekend to make sure they’ll survive the work day and not drive you crazy or have you fixing your hair at your desk all day.
- Safety First. We all work in different settings, and some of our work environments can make certain types of jewelry a safety hazard. Is your job shredding papers all day? Your flowy scarf might just get snagged in the shredder if you’re not careful. Do you work around animals or kids? Both of those things loooooove to yank on jewelry, so anything dangling and shiny puts you in danger of a certain amount of pain if one of them decides they want to play with your necklace or, God forbid, earrings. If you ever have to get supplies from a warehouse, rings can get caught on warehouse shelving and cause, um, terrifying injuries. It’s important to adjust your look to fit the work you’re doing, so you’re not setting yourself up for a painful or embarrassing experience, or dealing with broken jewelry that was special to you.
- No Hats! Yeah, I said it. But style maven Lauren Conrad said it way before I did. Hats are pretty much always too casual for a business-casual office. Wearing a beanie because it’s cold or raining is fine, but don’t wear it in the office (even if it’s cold), and make sure you either have your hair pulled back or can run your fingers through it before you start working so you don’t have moppy hat-hair all day.
The main idea here is that you should think about how functional your accessories are, as well as how good they look. If you have a simpler look for work, that’s just fine – jazz it up after hours and really enjoy your off time.
So what should the non-blingy professional lady wear to her business-casual office? Try this: get together one or two of each type of jewelry you like, and rotate through those during the work week. Personally, I hate wearing bracelets, so I don’t have those in my work rotation, but if you do, go for it! Just make sure they’re not getting in the way of your work.
For earrings, I have a pair of pearl studs and a pair of little drop earrings made of sea glass that I got in Del Mar, California, and I pretty much just rotate those two pairs depending on my mood and outfit. Every once in a while I’ll bust out the beautiful Kendra Scott earrings I got last Christmas, but they’re a little heavy and, as I mentioned before, they clack against the phone when I’m making calls, so they’re not my go-to earrings for work (although they are my go-to earrings for everything else because I love them).
One accessory I dearly love is necklaces. In case you haven’t caught on, I get my jewelry from all over the place – half my stash is vintage and belonged to my grandmothers, some of it I picked up while traveling, and quite a lot were gifts. Don’t overlook the chance to score some adorable jewelry at street fairs or tiny local shops when you’re out and about – the ones with stories attached to them are the best, and jewelry is a really easy souvenir to pack in your carry-on.
As for how to style your jewelry, there’s a lot of advice out there, and I highly encourage you to do some research, see what the ‘rules’ are, and then break them as you see fit. Yeah, even my ‘rules’ – none of this is hard and fast, because personal style is just that: personal. It made me feel better at first to learn the guidelines of what necklaces to pair with what neckline, and what hairstyles go best with what size of earrings, but once you have those basics down, don’t be afraid to mix it up and break some rules. As long as you think you look great, that’s all that matters.
So now you’re completely dressed and accessorized for work! Doesn’t that feel good? Next week we’ll talk about makeup…as much as I can talk about makeup, seeing as I hardly ever wear it. If you’re not a makeup person either, but you might want to try it out just for fun, you should check out next week’s post. I’m gonna make it easy on you.