Most professionals know that a set of basic trousers and shirts are the building blocks of a solid work wardrobe. And especially important when it’s your first job.
For a fresher, shopping for workwear has two parameters—to find clothes that will help him or her fit into an organization, and fit within their budget.
Twenty-six-year-old Puru Gupta, who has just started working at Procter and Gamble’s customer business development department in Mumbai, has managed to do both. Gupta, who graduated from the Faculty of Management Studies in New Delhi, went to his tailor of three years in Friends Colony and got three pairs of trousers (black, brown and navy) and three shirts (blue, white and dark grey). A dark blue tie and a pair of black shoes also fit into his budget of Rs10,000.
Employers also back the idea of keeping things simple. Meenakshi Satarkar, human resources manager at Mindcrest, a law outsourcing firm, says that while recruiting, she looks for candidates who are neat, polished and graceful, no matter what their body type. “Whether you’re in western or Indian formals doesn’t matter at all. If you’re uncomfortable in a particular ensemble, it will show. So, if a new recruit is comfortable in a sari, and the pallu is not falling off, it’s perfectly acceptable,” she says.
Sherin Daniel, who graduated from Symbiosis Law College in Pune earlier this year, joined Mindcrest last month. Since the 22-year-old had interned with various law firms in her five years of law study, Daniel’s wardrobe only needed a boost. So, with Rs6,000, she hit high-street stores and malls such as Shoppers’ Stop, Pyramid, Wills Lifestyle and Allen Solly. After her spree, her work closet has widened to include seven to eight pairs of formal trousers, mostly black, brown or navy, with a couple of beige pairs thrown in; a large number of full- and half-sleeved shirts in a range of colours, prints and stripes; a large white tote; and five to six pairs of pumps and sandals with low or mid-sized heels.
Daniel and Gupta are both not very concerned with making style statements in the office. “Getting my wardrobe together was the least of my problems before I started work. Not because I didn’t care, but I knew exactly what was expected of me as far as clothes were concerned,” Daniel says.
Two stints at IT companies taught Gupta the basics of workwear—shirts with big checks are preferable to smaller ones, which look informal; absolutely no sports shoes or flip-flops; and collared tees for Friday dressing—but he’s still not sure of the firm’s dressing culture, so he decided to play it safe. “I made sure I got only solid-coloured shirts. Checks and stripes can look informal, and I wanted to project a very straight image at work, not anything showy,” he says.
Datarkar says her power dressing peeves are when men come with untucked shirts, stubble, or unkempt hair. On women, she’d prefer to see medium-sized bags and accessories, as opposed to oversized pieces. “One piece of advice I always give is to look at yourself in the mirror from all angles before you come to work,” she says.
AT THE STARTING LINE
This newly launched formal wear brand from Raymond targets young professionals. What makes it attractive is its ‘popular pricing’ strategy. You can get a two-piece suit to fit budgets from Rs3,500 to Rs5,000.
Black pinstriped suit, Rs5,000; shirt, Rs450; and tie, Rs299.
Affordability is the buzzword here. For women, bright striped shirts, basic shirts and tees, waistcoats, stretch trousers and jackets are all well-priced, with shirts starting at Rs599. Men can choose from a variety of trousers—crease-resistant or wrinkle-free, flat-fronted or pleated, starting from Rs599. Full-sleeved shirts start from Rs699. You can also get a Blackberry jacket and trousers for Rs5,000.
Straight-fit formal stretch trousers, Rs799; stretch blouse, Rs699; and formal waistcoat, Rs999.
Besides affordable salwar kameezes starting at Rs550, Fabindia also has a range of interesting ties in cotton and silk. The printed cotton ties are a good casual option for Friday dressing, while the silks are more formal.
Cotton ties, Rs200, and silk ties, Rs450.
The brand has a range of well-priced workwear—brightly striped and collared shirts for women (Rs695) and formal trousers starting at Rs895. The range of shirts for men is varied, with solids, tone-on-tone effects and a wide range of stripes (Rs495 onwards). You can also get a blazer and a pair of matching trousers for Rs2,250.
Chambray and Oxford shirts, Rs595 to Rs695.
A black lace-up, with toes that are neither too pointed nor too round, is a male basic. Your next pair can be a brown lace-up or a slip-on. Women can wear classic black pumps or ballet shoes with trousers. A sling-back pair is better if you wear a lot of skirts. You will be more comfortable if your work shoes have a low heel and a strap to support the back. Start with a black pair, then add a brown or tan. Brands such as Metro Shoes, Rawhide, and Bata have several affordable options. Or you could splurge on a brand like Ashley. Flat formal shoes with patent leather detail, Rs2,325, Ashley Shoes.
This is the place to get a few very stylish pieces, but prices are slightly high for freshers. Buy one or two pieces which can be worn to important meetings or presentations. Women can pick up colourful striped shirts for Rs1,050, flattering jackets starting at Rs2,500 and a variety of formal trousers in various colours. Men can try the linen jackets (Rs6,000) for some stylish Friday dressing.
Steel grey women’s jacket, Rs5,999, with white shirt, Rs999.
Women can pick up some good-looking basics such as shirts and colourful lightweight knits (Rs995), that can be worn with formal trousers, with or without a jacket. Their Spring/Summer collection also has a range of A-line knee-length striped skirts in muted pastel tones. For men, the collection is a little less affordable, but just as attractive. Smart shirts and plenty of options with double cuffs, and formal trousers, both starting at Rs1,295.
Formal shirts for men for those occasions when you need to look impeccably turned out. The new Positano collection has trousers and linen shirts starting from Rs1,699.