If you feel like the garments hanging in your closet look dull and dated, executive-search consultant and Hyatt-Fennell partner Cheryl Hyatt recommends a wardrobe reboot. Hyatt, who has made a career out of matching professionals with executive-level positions, said a quick wardrobe refresh can make a big difference in your professional life — and there’s no better time than winter to start shopping, thanks to all the post-holiday sales. Whether you have a big interview, meeting, or networking event in your future, or you just want to spruce up your everyday work wear, here are some tips from Hyatt that will make updating your wardrobe a breeze:
What are some staples every working professional should have in their closet?
I like to think about my wardrobe in terms of foundational pieces and accents. You should have a core of items in neutral colors and classic cuts. These include suits, shoes, sweaters, skirts, and blouses. By opting for neutral colors and classic cuts, these pieces will serve you for years. As such, I’m willing to spend more on these items than accent pieces. You want quality that will last. Natural fibers — cotton, wool, silk, leather — are preferable to synthetics for quality and durability. Accent pieces allow you to add some personality and keep things seasonally fresh. These include such items as pocket squares, shirts, ties, and cufflinks for men; scarves, jewelry, and belts for women.
With spring right around the corner, should professionals be cognizant of current trends, and what are some timeless styles that are appropriate year-round?
I like to bring in a few new accent pieces each season. Usually that includes at least a pair of shoes, a blouse, and a piece of jewelry. That enables me to bring in seasonally appropriate colors and any new trends. When I like an item, I ask myself if I have anything like it in my wardrobe already. Many of us fall into ruts of color or style and it’s important to freshen things up.
When shopping for new work clothes, should people look for more professional pieces, or items that can be dressed up or down?
I always recommend erring on the side of overdressing. When you dress up you are communicating that you take your job seriously. Investing in quality clothing offers some added flexibility for dressing up or down. A well-tailored blazer can be worn without a tie and look nicer than an ill-fitting or rumpled three-piece suit. Shoes can dress an outfit up or down as needed.
For the professional who wants to update their wardrobe but isn’t sure how, what’s a good starting point or resource?
More than specific stores, I find myself turning to style services and blogs. Personal shopping services like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club are lifesavers for busy professionals who lack time (or expertise) to shop and can be done without ever setting foot in a store.