A friend of mine reached out about work attire and how to dress when everything out there seems to be off-the-shoulder, strapless, or cold-shoulder. How do you look stylish, cute, and appropriate? The age old question, right? There are so many great styles out there right now, but few of them are actually appropriate for any office setting from agencies, to Corporate America, and in some cases, even fashion, e.g. crop-shirts (save those for the club). There are definitely differing standards based on the industry you work in, but regardless, there are a few easy pieces you can add to keep it strictly professional.
A good blazer, year-round, in white, black and navy. Buy linen, wool and velvet. Blazers are the staples that will give you more options with your wardrobe at work; especially, if you work at a company that requires more formal dress. Throw these over the cute cold-shoulder top or dress you have hanging in your closet, or that spaghetti top cami that is just a bit too much for work. Yes, do it! The only one that will know is you, and maybe your cube-mate that saw the same dress out last weekend. You can do that same with some strapless tops, depending on the cut. Pair with cropped skinny pants or jeans, a pencil skirt or wide-leg pants. The blazer keeps it professional, but it does not have to look Corporate. Look for blazers with different cuts, a fun lapel or little ruffle detai
My favorites are J.Crew, Zara and Nanette Lepore. J.Crew has the everyday staples, as does Zara, but Zara’s silhouettes tend to be a little bit edgier so you don’t feel like you are in a suit. Nanette makes feminine pieces with lots of great details.
Pencil Skirts. If there is one thing I wish I had started acquiring earlier in life, it would be pencil skirts. They have been around since the 50s and they are not going anywhere. They give your look instant sophistication and you can never have too many. Make sure you cover basic colors; black, navy and grey. And, then add in textures and pattern, like leather and brocade. If you’re daring, sequins, but make sure your top is a simple button down if you do that (J.Crew has a cute one right now…)
Pair it with a button down for a conservative look, a graphic t-shirt and blazer for a more casual style, or a cute ruffle pop-over or chambray shirt for an easy everyday look.
J.Crew, ASOS and H&M are the winners in this area. They come out with all the basics year-round, but J.Crew also has lots of fun patterns as well.
I know flats are in. I am totally on board, but let’s face it: you aren’t going to see converse sneakers on a woman in a boardroom. It’s just not going to happen. And, heels instantly take your work outfit up a notch and give it that finishing touch. Purchase all your basics first, black and tan, but add in color, and fun styles because your shoes and accessories are the things that will give your outfit style. Just because you are dressing professionally does not meant you can’t have a little fun!
DSW is the clear winner in this area on price, style and selection; especially, online.
Okay, they can be totally basic and slightly boring, but they don’t have to be; especially, since so many designers have added them back into their collection. J. Crew, once again, is the winner for the basics: solids, ginghams, and stripes, but J.Crew also has some playful patterns and styles, as do DvF, Milly, and Urban Outfitter, to name a few. They are all creating button downs that make work-attire a little easier to swallow. What I love about the few below is that they are on-trend, they still work for any office and they are feminine. Button downs can be a little tough for those blessed with bigger bra sizes, but the navy eyelet shirt from J.Crew, and styles like it, offer some breathing room.
If you have some brighter, favorite colors, buy pants in all those colors. You may not be able to wear them on repeat, but they will add a little fun to your work outfits and maybe, just maybe, keep you from running out for martinis at noon. For summer and early fall, cotton or wool-blend cropped skinnies and wide leg pants are perfect. For winter, like the blazer, change out the fabric, not the style, or don’t depending on wear you live,
Do wear color year round. A pop of color in pants; especially, in the dull days of winter, is always a good idea. Wear them now with whites, chambrays and eyelets. Wear later with neutral crewnecks in gray, black, oatmeal.
My favorites for pants are, you guessed it, J.Crew, but Express makes great pants for work, and Target wins on price, style and colors this season.
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