Hands down, the most common question we get from clients is how to look put together at work. No matter their age, career, gender, or size, they want to know how to achieve that effortlessly polished look.
They don’t want to waste time, energy, or money on a giant wardrobe that stresses them out. They just want to look and feel good no matter the occasion.
So we asked our Next Level Wardrobe stylists how to achieve the sophisticated, versatile, and comfortable style of your dreams. They came back with 8 top tips on looking put together:
1. Prioritize core colors
2. Focus on fit
3. Invest in quality pieces
4. Layer your looks
5. Minimize your accessories
6. Tuck in your shirt
7. Take care of your clothes
8. Consult a professional
From big-picture changes you can make to tiny details that make perfection look easy, we’re covering it all right here.
Table of Contents
1. How To Look Put Together at Work: Prioritize Core Colors
Do you ever feel like you have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear?
Do you struggle to create outfits?
Does your wardrobe look like a disorganized mix of colors and patterns? Or, like a bland sea of all-black that has you in a style rut?
The best way to fix these problems is to balance your color palette. You want to seamlessly mix and match all your items. The best way to do this is to have the right pieces in the right colors. (And the first step of how to look put together at work)
Our founder Cassandra Sethi came up with a proprietary style system. The first part of that process is to use our Hierarchy of Color to organize your closet selection.
The Hierarchy of Color
So how does this Hierarchy work?
Simple: You divide your closet into three color categories:
– Core colors (Black, white, navy, and gray)
– Tonal colors (lighter shades of those original core colors, plus other neutrals like olive and brown)
– Accent colors and prints
The biggest percentage of your closet should be made up of the core color category. Why? Because these colors go with everything. You can effortlessly match these with any color or print without a second thought.
(Talk about taking the stress out of getting ready in the morning!)
The second biggest category should be tonal colors. These are also easy to mix and match because they’re variations of core colors. They add excitement and depth to your outfits.
Plus, this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate textures into your outfits. Textures like a ribbed-knit cardigan or coated pants make you seem like a style pro, even in neutral tones.
Lastly, dedicate the smallest portion of your wardrobe to true accent colors and patterns. This is the place to show off your personal brand through style. You know, those things that make you uniquely you and show that you’re not just part of the crowd.
Pops of color and pattern work best when they’re the cherry on top of your look. Not a scene stealer. Keep that in mind if you’re on the hunt for easy ways to look put together.
If you ground the rest of your outfit in subtler shades and styles, you’ll have a more cohesive closet.
2. Focus on Fit
Fit is an essential part of how to look put together at work.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve met clients with piles of clothes that don’t fit correctly. People hold on to these items because they tell themselves things like:
– I used to fit into that; I’ll keep it just in case
– I don’t want to spend more time and energy trying on a bunch of clothes to find the perfect fit.
– Nothing ever fits me off the rack, so I’ll just settle for close enough.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
First, don’t keep clothes that don’t fit the body you have today. Instead, invest in who you are today and find clothes that make you feel good at your current size.
Second, if you buy uncomfortable clothes to avoid the work of experimenting with different styles, you’re actually wasting more time. It’s better to spend energy up front and do your homework.
That way, you’ll find quality brands or styles that suit you and know what to shop for and where.
Thirdly, most people will not find a “perfect” fit straight off the rack. The clothes we buy in stores aren’t tailor-made. They’re made in bulk quantities based on fit models to suit the most amount of people.
As a result, just about everyone will find something that needs adjusting.
Want to know how to make an outfit look put together? Get your sizing right, and consider alterations.
Measure yourself or someone else to take them for you. Use this information to pick out your size at each store you visit or browse online.
If you still need adjustments, find a tailor who can turn the pieces you like into pieces you love.
It’s an investment, we know. But if you choose the right pieces to alter, they’ll last for years and save you money.
3. How To Look Put Together at Work: Invest in Quality Pieces
Our third tip for anyone curious about how to look put together at work is to invest in quality pieces.
If you’re constantly buying cheap and poorly made clothes, you’re not saving yourself money or energy. In fact, you’re making your life harder and wasting money.
This is because low-quality clothes don’t last. Some fall apart or look badly worn after a few wears and washes. Others break or tear. When that happens, you have to shop all over again for replacement pieces.
Instead of continuing this cycle, wouldn’t you rather spend your resources on things you care about? Like time with your family or a well-earned vacation?
Or recommendation here is to value quality over quantity. You don’t need a hundred pairs of jeans if you have one great pair that does the job.
This also makes you look more put together because higher-quality pieces look better. You won’t have to worry about constant pilling, instantly stretched-out waste bands, or faded colors.
To do this, prioritize quality brands and fabrics. Lean into natural fibers like Pima cotton, linen, or merino wool when possible. These materials have a better shelf life and are more breathable and comfortable. (This is a must if you want a seasonal capsule wardrobe.)
4. Layer Your Looks
If you follow NLW on Instagram, you might have noticed that we’re big fans of layering. That’s because it’s a key part of how to look put together at work.
So what’s it about layering that elevates an outfit?
For one, it gives your outfit depth and options. Having a layering piece is a way to make your ensemble more exciting. You can use a layer as a pop of flare or as a way to mute a louder outfit.
For another, it pulls a look together. Picture yourself wearing a white Tee and jeans. Sounds a little simple. But add a well-fitting jacket, and you look like you thought about what you wore. You go from just putting together a few basic pieces to creating an entire outfit.
And then, there’s the framing effect.
Do you know how wearing a blazer instantly makes you look more professional? Part of that is because we associate blazers with suits. But another part of that is that it frames your outfit. It adds structure to your frame and tells the eye where to focus on you.
Adding this extra piece is a big part of how to look classy and put together wherever you go.
5. How To Look Put Together at Work: Minimize Your Accessories
Mastering how to look put together at work isn’t just about clothing. It’s also about those finishing touches we know and love: accessories.
These pieces can make or break your outfit, from shoes to belts to jewelry and watches.
The right accessories say, “That person knows what they’re doing.”
The wrong accessories make you look like you’re playing dress-up.
So what are the wrong accessories? In our opinion, too many accessories or distracting accessories.
Whether you work at a formal or business casual office, you’re expected to show up looking professional. That means you know how to balance between expressing your personal style and putting the focus on your work.
Too many accessories or overly loud ones read as immature. (This is why we especially recommend anyone looking older at work keep this in mind.) In short, it seems you don’t take yourself or your job seriously and don’t know when to stop.
To avoid this, we recommend keeping your accessories minimalistic.
For example, let’s say you like to wear jewelry. At the office, opting for low-key options like simple hoops or a subtle lariat necklace is better.
Where to start with shoes? Our favorite office shoes for women are:
– Low heels
– Slip-on sneakers
For men’s business casual shoes, we recommend:
For both categories, go with neutral colors and low-profile styles, so you keep the focus on yourself, not your feet.
6. Tuck In Your Shirt
This sounds oddly specific, but tucking in your shirt is a massive hack for looking put together.
No matter your gender, office dress code, or size, tucking in your shirt instantly upgrades your style.
1. It defines your shape. Tucking in your shirt gives you a waist and breaks up your outfit so you don’t look like a blob.
2. It shows that you put care into your outfit. Tucking in your shirt or rolling up your sleeves shows you took the time to style your company instead of just throwing pieces together.
3. It just looks better. Think of someone with an untucked blouse or button-up shirt hanging loose. It looks sloppy. Tucking in your shirt cleans up your outfit in a flash.
Sounds simple. Good. Figuring out how to look put together at work doesn’t have to be complicated.
7. How To Look Put Together at Work: Take Care of Your Clothes
Remember how we mentioned the importance of buying quality clothes for your wardrobe? Well, the second part of that (and the less glamorous part) is this:
Take pride in your clothes and take care of them.
So many brands and websites don’t like to talk about this part. That’s because it doesn’t make them money or sound “fun.”
But if you’re going to invest in your wardrobe, don’t you want it to last?
That’s why we always teach our clients how to properly care for their garments.
Like learning to hang their pants and shirts or how to fold knits to avoid unnecessary stretching and pulling.
Read the care instructions on your clothes before throwing them into the wash, and avoid using a dryer.
(Yes, laying things flat to dry or hanging them takes longer. But many drying machines damage fabrics in just a single wash.)
8. Consult a Professional
Our final tip for always looking put together is to know when to call in the experts.
Listen, not everyone loves shopping or creating outfits. It’s okay to spend your time on things you care about!
Similarly, not everyone is a stylist, and that’s okay. If you’re tired of feeling anxious every time you step into your closet or get struck with “analysis paralysis” when you go to a store, it’s time to consult a professional.
Some people specialize in finding others their dream wardrobe, style, and fit.
If you’re hesitant about working with a stylist, think about it this way.
When you’re computer breaks, you take it to a specialist, right? Or if you want to learn how to work out properly, you consult a trainer.
The same should go for what you wear.
The right stylist should:
– Know how to navigate your unique fit challenges. If you’re petite, they should know the best brands and styles for petite bodies. If you’re plus-sized, they should be the expert dressing professionally while plus-sized.
– Listen. They should hear your challenges and goals and create a personalized plan just for you. They shouldn’t talk over you or try to make you dress just like them.
– Build a relationship and earn your trust. They shouldn’t try to sell you something just to make a commission. They should celebrate your style wins and never talk down to you.
Are you ready to take the next step and improve your style? Apply for Next Level Wardrobe’s styling services for men and women. Our experts will show you how to look put together at work and transform how you shop for good