Quality over quantity – building your work wardrobe

Whether it's right or wrong, the way you dress at work sends a message about who you are. Colleagues, clients, and superiors make constant, mostly unconscious, judgments based on the way you present yourself. Even if you’re a dedicated, hard-working individual; cheap, ill-fitting, or poorly maintained clothing can make you look careless and unprofessional.

Being taken seriously at the office is about looking the part. Of course, what’s appropriate depends on your industry - in some fields, the right pair of jeans and a trendy t-shirt will take you further than a classic suit.

But in many cases, quality cut and style reign supreme. Even if you’re on a budget, it is always better to invest in a few higher quality pieces, rather than several cheaper items.
Why spending more pays off

Clothing may feel like a frivolous or unnecessary expense – it may seem difficult to justify spending money on higher quality items. This is particularly true if you’re just starting out in the workplace and are building your professional wardrobe. However, investing money into a decent wardrobe right from the start can pay off. 

Great looking, well fitted, comfortable clothing helps you project an air of confidence. Knowing that you look appropriate and professional, whatever the situation, goes a long way towards helping you focus on doing your best work. You will be able to attend to the task at hand without worrying about your shirt gaping or looking sloppy next to your better dressed colleagues. That confidence is invaluable at any stage of your career.

The real cost of cheaper garments

Cheap clothing can be surprisingly costly in a number of ways, especially when you consider cost-per-use. Because more costly items are generally made of better materials, with better workmanship, they will often last significantly longer. For example, a cheaper pair of pants may wear out within the year, while a better-quality pair could stay looking smart for five. This means the more expensive pair actually offers better value for money.

Less expensive clothes can also look fine on the rack, but be poorly fitted. This is especially true for mass produced items, which are usually made of thinner, cheaper materials and have loose, unstructured cuts. Cheaper business clothing tends to be heavier and less tailored than higher quality garments. Although your colleagues are unlikely to be fashion experts, most people can recognise cheap, poorly made clothing when they see it. This judgement, whether conscious or not, could end up being costly in terms of your career advancement.

Simple work style: four tips

Many people struggle to choose appropriate clothing for the office. Buying high quality pieces goes a long way, but it’s also important to understand the basic rules of dressing for work.

1. Fit comes first. For men, this means jackets and shirts that don’t gape at the buttons or bunch at the shoulders, and pants that are the right length. For women, this means dress pants and skirts that fit comfortably, without being overly tight, and blouses or shirts that aren’t see-through or too low cut.

2. Classic colours. Maintain a professional look by choosing understated colour palettes. Think black and white, navy and grey, dark reds and greens. Bright colours can work as a ‘pop’ in an otherwise neutral outfit – for example, a tie or shoes – but avoid large swathes of bright colour.

3. Pattern matching. Avoid clashing prints. A patterned blouse or shirt should be paired with a plain suit or skirt.

4. Keep accessories minimal. Men should stick to a classic watch, while women can choose a simple necklace or earrings – but not both.
    Once you have built a wardrobe of classic pieces, you should be able to mix and match easily. If you’re unsure about an outfit, err of the side of simple and conservative. It’s better to be too understated than too bright, too loud, or inappropriate for the workplace.
    If you wish to build a classic, high-quality work wardrobe, Nicholas Jermyn is a good place to start.

    Look through our range of beautifully made men and women's clothing in NZ.