Don't Get Stuck in the Uniform Rut

Sitting next to this group of co-workers on the Long Island Railroad recently, it was obvious that the two women were on top of their professional game as they discussed financing options for the client they were going to meet.

It was also obvious that they were not on top of their appearance game.  Both wore plain dark suits with unremarkable tops beneath their jackets, and neither wore any makeup.  Perhaps they'd spent the entire night preparing for the meeting to which they were traveling and had only had a few minutes to grab their easiest go-to outfit before catching the train.

Understandable though their situation might be, they were each basically wearing a uniform, and they looked boring.  That's also a common criticism of the classic white shirt--that it's too "uniform looking" and boring.  However these women demonstrate that it's not what you wear that causes you to blend in with the scenery.  It's HOW you wear it.  Do you see any color in this photo?  Any inkling of the women's personalities other than their preference for nice leather bags and an addiction to email? 

Fortunately, it doesn't take too much effort to overcome the "Stepford worker" message sent by the ubiquitous black laptop next to the window.  If you're also in a rut (and who hasn't been?), here's a list of ideas to reclaim your personality in the way you dress and, more importantly, the way you see and feel about yourself

Quick Fixes:

  1. Lipstick
    Always have a flattering shade in your purse. There’s no quicker picker upper under the harsh fluorescent light of an office bathroom than a swipe of color on your lips. If your current lipstick inventory is uninspired, visit a department store makeup counter or just the corner drugstore. Pick out the first color you fall in love with and use it right away.

  2. Accessories
    The best thing about shopping for bags, scarves, tights and shoes is you don’t have to spend any time in a dressing room. Find a favorite, take it home, and resolve to incorporate it into at least one outfit in the next week. That small effort for just one outfit will inspire more creativity with the rest of your wardrobe.

  3. Lingerie
    At the very least, wear black underwear with your black bra and nude with nude.   There's something about a pulled-together look underneath that makes you feel a little more pulled-together on top.  Even better, pull out the pretty stuff--as long as it's comfortable enough to wear during a 12 hour work day.  If not, order something great online during your next break and get a mood boost when it arrives in the mail.

More Involved Fixes:

  1. Makeup Refresher
    You can probably think of a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Make an appointment for the two of you to have a lesson at your favorite makeup counter and then go out to dinner together.

  2. Help from an Image Consultant
  • Having your colors done is the best way to look like you’ve just returned from a vacation. Once you know what gives you a glow, you won’t waste money on pieces that wash you out.
  • An image consultant who really understands you can make a giant difference. She’ll know where to push you to try new things and how to accommodate your lifestyle. When she’s finished with you, you should look and feel more “you” and less like a clone of your co-workers.

Lifestyle Fixes:

  1. Disconnect
    Next time you find a little downtime, challenge yourself not to check emails, texts, Facebook or Twitter. Take a mental vacation and see where your thoughts and feelings lead you. Making room for inspiration can be your first step out of a rut.

  2. TV/Netflix Diet
    If you REALLY want to catch up on that show that you love, then go for it.  But if you're indifferent about what's available to watch, ask yourself what you’d rather be doing. Then get off your couch and do that instead.

  3. Yoga
    Breathe, stretch and focus.  Reach Savasana with a fresh perspective.
  4. Sleep and Exercise
    If you're taking any time off this holiday season, use some of it to recalibrate your health.  While you're at it, go ahead and make a resolution to continue these new habits into 2012.

Have you tried any of these fixes?  Tell us about your results on our Facebook page!