Dave's New York

How to Look Both Professional and Practical

How to Look Both Professional and Practical

Sometimes it's hard to find professional clothing that's also right for your job.

Sometimes it's hard to find professional clothing that's also right for your job.

If you have a physically demanding job, it can be challenging to find work clothes that are comfortable but still look good. You need sturdy slacks and shirts, but you always want to communicate professionalism.  If you choose your work clothes with an eye for both durability and style, you can build a wardrobe appropriate outdoors, in the warehouse, and in the office. Here are a few tips for building a versatile work wardrobe.

Always Keep Accessories Handy

If you need to go from an outdoor environment to the office, it makes sense to keep some accessories handy so you can change quickly. For example, if you work outdoors most of the time, but occasionally need to check in at the office, keep a few accessories in your car or your work locker. Say you’re wearing work shoes, jeans and a polo shirt. You can slip on some dress socks and leather loafers and a leather belt and throw a jacket on over the polo shirt, and you’re good to go.

Choose Clothes that Do Double Duty

When you’re shopping for work clothes, choose ones that can make the switch from outdoors to indoors. Save work overalls for men or pleated wool dress slacks for the days you’ll be indoors outdoors all day. If you’re in and out, go with a nice pair of dress jeans or durable khakis in solid, neutral colors. Choose polo shirts or long-sleeved oxford shirts in solid, conservative colors like white, tan, navy or blue. These items will go with just about anything! When buying accessories, like belts, keep in mind that leather, like this Red Wing belt, can go anywhere.

Always Go with Easy Care Fabrics

Since you want your clothes to move from indoors to outdoors and back again, choose sturdy, breathable fabrics, preferably wrinkle-free and stain-resistant. Working outdoors or in a warehouse environment will put your clothes at risk of getting smudged, stained and torn, and it helps if they’re made of materials that breathe, wick away moisture, and resist stains. Cotton is a good all-purpose choice. It’s light, breathable, and certain kinds are tough. It’s also not a bad idea to have a repair kit somewhere handy, with a bottle of stain remover (or a handy pen) and a needle and thread ready, in case something happens and you have to make a quick repair.

Choose One or Two Basic Combos

Have at least one shirt-and-slacks combination that can go from a construction site to the office with a few quick tweaks. For example, in the summertime, men’s denim shirts go well with Levi’s Dockers and can be quickly transformed with a tie, a jacket and a pair of leather loafers. In the winter, you might pair dark blue jeans with a turtleneck sweater and a pea jacket. A change of boots and a scarf will easily make the transition from the outdoors to the office.

With a little imagination and advance planning, your work wardrobe can go anywhere you do … in style!