Financial Poise
Dress Professionally

Dress Professionally with Style (Without Breaking the Bank)

At the Office or at Home, Your Closet and Your Career Will Thank You

After more than a year of working from home, and with more offices and businesses opening up again, you have finally decided to amp up your wardrobe! Boring black pants and a button-down shirt are not cutting it anymore. You want to get noticed by your boss, garner respect from your coworkers, command attention in a room full of your peers, or have people notice how you dress professionally for Zoom. Whether you’re returning to the office or continuing remote work, the way you present yourself has and always will speak volumes to those around you.

But where do you start, and how do you go about it without breaking the bank? Where can you go to get advice on clothing cut, color and fit, so you don’t get it all wrong? Dressing for success isn’t a challenge. With so many online innovations and personal stylists, it doesn’t have to be a chore.

You could spend hours scouring Pinterest, but then you would still have to go out shopping to find the outfits. What if they end up being all wrong for your age and body type? Or what if you simply don’t like them? You could hire a personal stylist, but they can cost anywhere from $100-$500 an hour or more. Department stores typically offer free in-store stylists or personal shoppers, but you may end up paying high-end department store prices! Isn’t there a better solution to dress professionally with style?

An Affordable Way to Dress Professionally with Style

Personal stylists offer a myriad of services within a wide range of prices for different budgets. Some offer in-person, one-on-one shopping days while others offer online consultations that covers anything from hair and makeup to clothes and footwear. While popular with business tycoons and celebrities, personal stylists remain the most expensive option for updating one’s wardrobe and require customers to invest a great deal of time and energy into changing their look. If you do decide to bite the bullet and hire a personal stylist, remember to pay attention to the brands they recommend.

Another tip is to try to negotiate a few text appointments for advice on the fly when you send the personal stylist a quick picture of a ready-for-the-office ensemble.Follow your personal stylist on social media to see looks they put together for themselves or other clients. Keep your stylist on speed-dial in case you need stylistic advice for the annual Christmas gala, a chic wedding or that High School reunion you’ve been avoiding. Before hiring a personal stylist, do some research about services and extra fees included.

Department Store Personal Shoppers

Department store personal shoppers have a wide variety of skills. Some are former salespeople who shifted over to the personal-shopper department, while some are students who studied fashion in college or art school. Most stores do not charge for the personal-shopper experience, but may make a commission from what you buy, so there is pressure to purchase suggested items.

It is common for people to use personal shoppers for everything from a new work wardrobe to finding the perfect outfit for a specific event. It never hurts to test the waters but be prepared to say, “no,” and walk away if the shopper is not understanding what you are looking for.

Before your first appointment with your personal shopper, bring in pictures of looks you like  and your favorite designers or brands to get the appointment started on the right foot. It also helps to be realistic; personal shoppers cannot make a petite girl look 6-feet tall or a curvy girl look long and lean. Take a few minutes before your appointment to determine what you’d like to highlight and hide, then communicate those at the start of your appointment. The more information the better!

The New Era of Personal Stylists

With new technology, comes new opportunities. We can dress professionally for Zoom and get our custom stylist right at home:

Stitch Fix: A popular option in the online personal-stylist market for $20 a stylist looks at your online persona (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and reads a hundred-word description you write about yourself.

Stitch fix has been very successful but there are mixed reviews. The service depends on an accurate online persona of your lifestyle. If you rarely post, or only post when you are dressed to the nines and headed out on the town, then your stylist will get a skewed image of what you are looking for. To ensure a successful experience, communication is key! Plus, there is no subscription fee, so trying it will only cost you a nominal fee and a little time.

  1. The stylist puts together a box of clothing that’s  shipped to your door.
  2. You select what you want to keep and pay only for those pieces.
  3. You also return the pieces you don’t want at no charge.

The more you order, the better your selections, since your stylist gets a better understanding of what you are looking for!

Trunk Club: This began as a shopping service exclusive for men and clothing was sent from Nordstrom. It has since expanded its services to people of all genders. Their consultation process is more thorough than Stitch Fix.

  1. You’ll answer a survey that matches you with a stylist.
  2. You then chat with the stylist and  have a phone call appointment.
  3. The stylist puts together a ‘trunk’ that has several pages of clothing, shoes, and accessories.
  4. You then decide what pieces are placed in your trunk and shipped to you.
  5. Any clothing you do not want is returned for free.

Input from you on what is actually sent dramatically increases the success rate of Trunk Club.

MTailor: MTailor is a custom-clothing company, not a styling company. MTailor is ideal for customers looking for more guidance and input from a style expert. In 2020, the company even launched MTailor Mask, where customers can order a free face mask with every order to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations.

Customers send their body measurements using their smartphone camera and the app’s AI technology. The return or remake rates for custom clothes are quite low, only 15%. That is lower than a typical online-clothing store, but you really need to know what you want in your custom shirt or jeans.

Dressing Professionally for Zoom in the Dawn of COVID

Zoom tops and face masks are new to all our fashion dictionaries. With so many online meetings, we still need to look professional and fresh, even if we’re still working from the couch. The key is something polished and comfortable. You can also consider dressing up a more plain outfit with accessories to dress up the look.

When you’re out, make it a point to get a facemask that matches or compliments your outfit, but remember to keep your distance.

Workplace attire has made a huge shift from department store suits and a few button-down blouses to a wide range of styles that allow for self-expression. For those who are stylish and have an eye for cut and color, the spectrum of acceptable attire is seen as a newfound freedom. For those who struggle, take a little time to explore personal stylist options to help you dress professionally.


[Editor’s Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: The Impact of Communicable Diseases, Including Coronavirus, on the Workplace and Protecting Your Employee Assets: The Life Cycle of the Employment Relationship.]

©All Rights Reserved. April, 2021.  DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM

About Mercedes Holmen

Mercedes is a business owner and Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields. In addition, she works in the field of behavior analysis for children with autism and their families, specializing in preschool aged children. She also has her Masters in Science from University of California at Davis.

View all articles by Mercedes »

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