The life of an office ninja is unpredictable. You may find yourself running errands one day and supervising an HVAC installation the next. You go from party planner to vendor manager to Ikea furniture assembler in the blink of an eye. And, as a nimble multi-tasker, you make it work.
Despite your ninja training and expertise, you may find yourself continually bumping up against one recurring question: What should I wear today? You want to look put-together, but your wardrobe needs to keep up with your ever-changing to-do list.
So, we’re introducing a new series: Functional Fashion for Office Ninjas. Each article will provide you with ideas for dressing yourself according to a specific mission. We’d love your overall thoughts and feedback as well as your ideas for future missions, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Without further ado...
Your Mission: Cleaning and Reorganizing the Supply Closet
It’s not the most glamourous of tasks, but a neat and properly organized supply or storage closet is key to an efficient workplace. If you’ve noticed that the dog-eared file folders are mixed up in outdated letterhead and everything’s spilling onto the pile of unmarked cardboard boxes, it may be time to take charge. But make sure you’re dressed for the job, otherwise you’ll make an already tedious task that much more painful.
Colors and Fabrics
You’ll likely be kneeling, sitting on the floor, and combing through dusty shelves, so stick to darker colors to avoid stains. Closets aren’t known for their robust ventilation systems, so choose fabrics that are lightweight and breathable.
Pants are preferable to skirts, dresses and shorts, since you’ll likely be doing your fair share of bending, reaching and squatting. Regular dress pants and even some jeans may pose functionality issues including waist-cinching and plumber’s butt. Luckily there are number of brands out there that make workout gear disguised as office casual basics.
Ladies: check out the Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants in Gray ($79.20). They’re stretchy and comfy, but still look polished and tailored.
Fellas: we like the ABC Pant by Lululemon ($128).We won’t spell out what “ABC” stands for (you’ll have to visit their site for that). We’ll just say these pants, with their sweat-wicking fabric and wide panelled gusset, will allow you to move comfortably.
Take a layered approach, as your body temp will likely rise and fall as you go from moving boxes to sorting pens. And an under layer with a slightly lower hemline will prevent you from baring your midriff when reaching for the top shelf.
A t-shirt + cardigan combo is an easy approach and works on a lot of different body types.
Ladies: we like the Longtail T Tanktop from Duluth Trading Company ($17.50). It’s about 2” longer than the average tank top, so it'll stay tucked in or cover your waistline. It also has hidden “bra-keeper snap tabs” under each shoulder that keep bra straps from slipping off your shoulders. Pair it with a zippered cardigan like the Airport Greeting Cardigan from Mod Cloth ($54.99).
Fellas: Duluth Trading Company also makes Long Tail T-Shirts for ($21) and you can achieve a comparable look by layering it with the J. Crew Merino Wool Zip Sweater Jacket ($98).
Choosing the right footwear is crucial! Your first instinct may be to grab your slip-on flats or loafers, but if your foot easily slips in to a shoe, it will also slip out just as easily. That’s bad news when you’re balancing on a chair or step ladder. You’ll also want to avoid anything with a slippery sole. And, as always, comfort is key.
Ladies: these Cube Boots from Jambu ($159) have a snug, zippered-in fit and feature “Hyper Grip” technology on the soles for improved traction. The memory foam insole conforms to your foot for optimum comfort.
Fellas: we found an oldie but a goodie: Hush Puppies! Check out the saw tooth treads on these bad-boys. The Frankie Roadsides ($99) lace up so they’re not too loose and, according to their site, the “HPO2Flex™ footbed with EVA heel cup provides exceptional cushioning and comfort.” Sounds legit!
This isn’t the day to try out your new set of bangle bracelets or Flavor Flav clock necklace. Choose accessories that are functional and won’t get in your way.
Ladies: a head band like this funky Arusha Beaded Turban from Anthropologie ($25.60) will help keep your hair up and out of your face.
Fellas: keep your mane dust-free with a beanie that you can wear snug or slouchy like the Mountain Beanie from Urban Outfitters ($29).
Once your organizing endeavors are complete, don’t forget to stand back and admire the rows of neatly stacked binders, proportionately piled stationery, and color-sorted highlighters...because it won’t stay that way for very long. And then go treat yourself to an adult beverage at the cool, new happy hour spot. You are, after all, dressed for it.
What have you worn during your closet re-org days? Let me know in the comments below!