Dressing up to the office shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. It doesn’t have to be that way especially when you just started work or probably you are still a student and doing internship or #national #service (a mandatory one year working service that all tertiary students in Ghana and some parts of West Africa render to their country after completion of their tertiary education). You can dress up for less and still look very good, chic and classy. Continue reading for pointers.
Below are Five (5) ways to dress-for-less to work
Yes, the first is your Hair. As women our hair is our glory. So we need to take care of it very well. There are lots of beautiful hairstyles around, but one must use wisdom to choose which one suits your face shape and body type (will talk about that in another post).
In Africa, most women wear weaves and wig caps, some also braid and now natural hair is trending, so you will see many young women sporting their natural hair in various styles.
My advice is, depending on what you are earning, go for a hairstyle that will last long on your head with less maintenance cost.
Depending on your geographical area or the country you live, braiding generally is cheaper, from the cost of the hair piece to the cost of labour. It also lasts longer than other hair types. Plus there are lots of hairstyles you can do with braids.
What I usually do is that, I do my braids a little longer(lengthwise) and then after about 2 or 3 weeks I either cut it shorter or do what we call “water curls” ,that is taking a bunch of the braids a time and braiding them into one big braid. I do that until I have about 5 or 6 big fat braids, boil hot water and carefully dip them one after the other into the hot water. After that I carefully take it out and towel dry it. After all is done and it has cooled down I undo the fat braids and this turns my entire braids into curls. Changing the look of my hair for another 2 or 3 weeks.
All this while, I get rubbing alcohol and cotton and clean my scalp when I notice some smell or dirt, just to keep my hair fresh and smelling good. Some will wash their braids. It is also good if your hair can take it. My hair gets all knotted up when I do a total wash of my braids. So, check which is best for your hair.
- Wig Cap
This is also a good investment, you get two or three and use them interchangeably. You will have to hang them up in an airy but no-dusty place. Cover it with a hair bonnet (check out Nubian pride Instagram page for some gorgeous bonnets) to prevent dust accumulating on them on the days you don’t wear them.
- Natural Hair.
This is another low maintenance hair if you are willing to put some work into it and learn. There are tons of YouTube videos that can teach you how to style your own natural hair. I have natural hair myself, so when I don’t have my braids on, I try different styles myself and it looks great. I just get my shampoo to wash and shea butter ready at all times along with some hair pins and bands and I am off.
Where to buy clothes. Wherever your home country is, try and locate places where you can buy clothes for a lesser price. There are thrift shops you can get some of these clothes. Always be on the lookout for those big “SALE” days. In Ghana the used clothing market is very huge. When you go to these markets very early in the mornings you are assured of getting fairly new clothes and store rejects which are in very good condition. All they need is some good washing and ironing and they are as good as new.
When shopping for low cost clothes don’t mind the size, especially when they are a bit bigger. You can always do the alterations yourself or get a tailor or seamstress to do them for you. If the clothes are small, check if it has allowance on the seams that will allow for expansion. If they have , then I bet you , you are good to go, buy it!
Be mindful about the colour you choose when buying your work clothes. Certain colours are not official like yellow, orange, hot pink and some other bright colours. However, it is advisable to go for more subtle colours like black, blue-black, ash, blue and some other mild colours. These colours fit very well in most Companies.
For instance, if you have a black skirt, you can wear it with a white shirt, or blue shirt or blouse, cream top, pale pink . Black goes with almost anything, and people may not notice that you are wearing the same skirt, because you keep changing the tops.
For what is worth, make sure you get a knee-length black dress. Every girl should have a black dress, because you can wear it anywhere (maybe not everywhere, like a wedding, except if the bridal colours has black in it), to work, to that diner party, or a date.
Once again hit the thrift shops and take advantage of big sale days. Buy black which goes with everything, blue black, or nude.
You don’t need to have great wealth in order to accessorise. Who knows whether what you are wearing is gold or real pearls. Most people cannot tell the difference anyways so why spend soo much on jewellery. Buy affordable accessories as possible and wear it well with confidence and I bet you people will compliment you over and over again. I have worn earring that cost me less than GH¢5.00(US$0.80) and people have complemented me over and over again thinking it cost me a GH¢100.00 (US$18) or more. Until I told them the truth they had no idea.
You will have to keep them well to prevent them from getting damaged. Again a trip to the thrift shops and slightly used product markets will guarantee you making some very good purchases which will last for some time.
You can also get some low cost broches to brighten up your clothes and make it look different.
Don’t spend soo much on make-up and fixing your nails especially when you are young and your face still has its freshness and youthfulness. Buy just a face powder, a foundation with an eyeliner and lipstick or lip gloss. Again you get can very affordable ones that won’t break your budget.
Be careful however of fake products which can cause damage to your face. If you can, you can stay clear away from make-up or just use normal baby face powder, eye pencil and lip gloss and I bet you your face will thank you some 10 years down the line.
And remember the best makeup you can wear is your smile.
Now coming to the nails. If your fingernails and toenails are in great shape then just file them or shape them yourself and paint with colourless nail polish or what we call in Ghana “Student nail polish”. If you don’t like the look of your nails then go ahead and paint them or do the designs you want, but be mindful not to spend soo much on them. Calculate the money you spend doing your nails per month multiplied by 12 months and compare it with that money sitting in your savings account or in some form of investment. You might think it is small money, but as the saying goes, little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
Starting a new job is not easy especially when you have not saved much. Remember the employees you meet there have been there for some years and may be earning way more than you, so do not be influenced by what they wear. Some people have relatives who buy clothes from abroad for them (if that is your case, then hooray!). Some are married and have husbands who are footing those bills.
My advise to you as a young woman who has just started work in the corporate world is to be modest in everything. Even if your parents are very rich and can buy you whatever you want, being in a new environment, you will want to be a bit modest in your dressing and spending so you are not tagged. Yes office bullying is real. If you think you left bullying and the “mean girls” behind you in school, then think again they are everywhere. I will talk more about office bullying in another post so stay tuned.
Let me know what your thoughts are on this blog post and if you have some other suggestions that might be helpful, I will be glad to have them.