businessattire

Warm Business Attire

There is this bonding moment that occurs at some point during every business meeting when one woman says to another, “It is so cold in here. Can you feel your toes?”

The working world can be harsh on those of us who are warm in the heart but not in the toes. Once, I was shivering so much in a meeting that my voice shook, and I had to explain that I was cold, not angry. So, if you find that your reputation as a calm, competent employee is jeopardized by the temperature of the meeting room (which is actually controlled by a germophobe in Corporate who believes bacteria will thrive in temperatures greater than 65 degrees Fahrenheit), this article is for you.

Since it is generally not appropriate to bring a personal space heater, fleece blankets, and thick, woolly socks to the boardroom even if your fingers go white and numb at the slightest drop in temperature, I have spent the last year exploring ways to dress warmly in business professional attire. Below are a few guidelines:

  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Tailored clothing should look professional without cutting off circulation. If there is too much spandex to allow blood-flow, it will leave Raynaud’s sufferers icy and blue.
  • The prospect of buying multiple professional jackets and sweaters can be expensive. Try to acquire a few key pieces that will go with just about everything. I used the 30-piece wardrobe guide to pick out some long-lasting colors and fashions that will go with many pieces in my wardrobe.

 

Now that I have provided a few guidelines, I will offer a list of favorite items. I must add a disclaimer that I am NOT the fashionista in our office. Many interventions have been made to try to create a better-dressed me: I once insisted on wearing crocs and woolly socks to the office, at which point I was provided with a copy of the dress code policy and asked to please review it. However, my good, fashionable friends have given me some good ideas to work with and still keep warm. These are the ideas that I share below:

  • Remember that your undergarments may do you a favor if you choose them wisely:


    • While I grew up deeply resenting the itchy tights of the 70s that my mother forced me to wear to church every week, I have discovered the world of sheer, no-run nylons. They are not wool socks, but they do their part to keep my feet warmer and they are more durable and less irritating to my skin than the 70s version. I love Peds Fusion knee highs.
    • When life gets boring, just explore the world of soft, warm tights. Again, they are so much better than they used to be; I used to feel I could embody Charlie Chaplin from the way they slipped down and bunched at the ankles. But I am totally over that now. Totally.
    • Consider silk long underwear. I know it’s a big leap, but if you are shivering at work and it’s cold both inside and outside, there is something beautiful about lightweight silk under your regular business attire. For an example, see the Lands’ End version: http://www.landsend.com/pp/StylePage-404542_AL.html. Keep in mind that while no one needs to know that you are wearing silk long underwear, you may like them so much that you feel the need to share that information with others. Be wise and keep it to your inner circle.
  • Avoid open-toe shoes—and not just because OSHA forbids them on the factory floor. Keeping your toes warm will do more for the rest of your body than you may imagine.
  • Choose at least one blazer: who knew polyester could keep you so toasty? I usually keep it simple and just pair it with a sheer t-shirt and accessories, but having a classy, timeless blazer on hand gives a layer of warmth that is missing in most professional women’s clothes.
  • Choose at least one trim cardigan in a color that will go with just about anything (black or white is a good start). Keep one in the office as a back-up for when you spill coffee all over your blazer and cannot possibly wear it to the next frigid meeting. Classic cardigans are timeless and they can dress up your ensemble without looking lumpy and frumpy.
  • Lined dress pants are not cheap, but I have to comment that they are oh-so-cozy.
  • Corduroy—in some environments where hipsters are received as respectable members of the working world, it may still be okay to wear a tailored pair of corduroy pants or a corduroy skirt. If so, count yourself blessed, because corduroy is simply one of the warmest creations of the modern era.
  • Scarves, wraps, shawls and capes: All of these are great options to add pizzazz and warmth. Wrap up in seasonally-appropriate colors and you will be ready to face the air conditioning.
  • Hopefully, this tour through warm business attire will help prevent thermostat wars. With fewer office conflicts and less cold-induced stress, you may actually get some work done!



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