Creating a style for yourself is hard enough, between figuring out what you feel comfortable and what looks good, and we’re not even bringing price into the equation yet. However, one of the largest issues with a wardrobe is what do you do with the 8 hours a day you are at work. How exactly are you supposed to strike the balance between stuff that is office-friendly and still reflects who you are? Read on for some insight on how exactly to keep authentic while still looking professional at work.

Think By the Numbers

While it may be surprising when it comes to something as esoteric as style, when it comes to work, it pays off to break down your outfits into percentages. Getting dressed for work in the morning is not something you want to spend too much time in the morning, so taking this approach allows you to have several different outfits that are easy to put together while hitting all the proper notes.

Start by dedicating 20% of your work wardrobe for style statements, the pieces of your wardrobe that reflect you. When it comes to style statements, you’re going to want to pick things that allow for a unique look without standing out in a bad way. Sadly, this may limit your options a bit, but less than you think.

A work outfit doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter, just an extension of your personal style that fits within dress codes. A good idea is taking business classics and putting a bit of a twist on them to make them a little less conservative, but still fitting the work-friendly bill.

40% of the wardrobe should be dedicated to the foundation, the business basics. These don’t necessarily have to cost a lot. As a rule of thumb, seek out dark hues, breathable fabrics, and clothes that won’t wrinkle easily. Wondering how you can test this out without buying? Simply sit down for a while in the clothes and keep an eye out for any creasing. As an added note, don’t underestimate what a good tailor can do for your look. Things off-the-rack can still look quality when custom fitted to your figure.

Another 25% of your wardrobe should go towards the floaters in your wardrobe, layering pieces. The idea here is that you want to stick to simple shapes and colors with minimal print, allowing you to incorporate them into any day’s wardrobe in any season with a simple mix-and-match approach. Think tees or sweaters—comfort is a plus.

“The remaining pieces of the wardrobe are generally for certain occasions, like formal attire for client dinners or office parties. These can range from classier variants of your normal work clothes to a dress when you really go all out”, says Brummelli, maker of bespoke men’s shoes. In addition, don’t forget to invest in a proper coat. So much work on an outfit can be undone with a dowdy coat or jacket.

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The Mentality of Style

When you’re working on your outfit, be sure to keep track of every potential coupon or deal that you can get, especially if you find that you are going to need the added expense of tailoring. However, one of the major ways that you can keep from spending too much on clothes is by avoiding wasteful spending. Look at your closet for a moment. How many pieces of clothing have you not worn for a while? Shopping on a whim can do that, but if you’re starting a new job and putting together a work outfit, you can rack up quite a bill. In order to avoid waste, start by trying to take stock of what your work schedule demands. The percentages we put together earlier are a general guideline, but depending on your job and lifestyle, you may want to adjust. For example, someone who does a lot of sales to major companies may need more outfits for client meetings.

By following these concepts, while staying true to the ideas that create your own style, you’re in a great position to look good at work, commanding professionalism and respect, looking unique, all while avoiding looks of confusion for your boss. You’re already a great part of the operation at work, and now you can look the part as well.

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