Gone are the days where women needed to dress like men to be taken seriously at work. Men don’t really know how it happened but women have become a force in the work force. Highly educated and in high positions. Everything Gloria Steinem pictured in the 1970’s. Women are in every field and more often that not, it is the women in the office who dictate the style and personality of the office even if they are not the CEO. And once Hilary get’s into the White House there will be no stopping the female force in the world.
No women ever question their ability anymore. The only question that is left for even the most powerful women in the world is what do I wear to the office, business meeting, client dinner, etc. Well, there are quite a lot of answers. It really depends on what you do and how creative your office/field of work is. If you wear a lab coat every day all day, you don’t need to have a blazer on underneath. If you are in a courtroom every day you do need to have a blazer on. Some start-ups, no one ever dresses up for work and jeans and casual clothes rule the day. And if you are in fashion or beauty, you need to look like you belong there. But the one rule to all of these scenarios is to look polished and put together even if your office dictates you wear yoga pants. They key to this is knowing your own body and what looks right and what doesn’t. I have blogged endlessly about casual wear, and especially on how to wear jeans and look polished. So let’s put a pin in that and move to some of the other types of work wear, how to find the right shapes for you and how to tie them into this season’s trends: Minimalist, Glam-Goth, 1970’s Boho and Mod, Geek-Chic and Victorian.
Let’s begin with the office environment wear it is necessary to wear a suit or suit like outfit everyday. Perhaps you are the CEO of a company, a lawyer, in politics, you get the drift if I am talking about you. If you feel like you need to be in a suit at work then this is for you.
What is a suit? Well traditionally a suit is a blazer and either a pair of pants or skirt that matches. But there are quite a few twists on the traditional suit you may be able to get away with besides being in the traditional suit everyday. Let’s start with Blazers. I am constantly on the look out for a great black blazer. I believe a classic black blazer that looks good on you can be the corner-stone of your wardrobe and will become a wardrobe classic. I don’t think you need to buy a new one every year if you buy quality and it fits and looks great. Here is the classic Campbell Blazer from J. Crew. This is a classic black blazer. It will hit you at the hip line, nip in at your waist and has the perfect lapel. I haven’t tried it on so I cannot speak to fit, but it comes in petite and regular and sometimes you don’t think something fits but it will if you try on the petite. You can add this to a traditional suit and it will work for even the most somber office setting. Same Blazer ( in grey this time) picture with the matching J. Crew Campbell pant. Very classic. You can even add the matching skirt. This is the director pencil skirt from J. Crew in the same 120 super wool as the Campbell Blazer and pant. My recommendation would be to buy all three pieces. Because sometime you just need a really good suit and it is so handy to have all the right pieces in your closet. All the pieces come in petite as well. You can also use these 3 pieces as a base for other pieces that you can wear to your conservative office. Here is the other shorter pencil skirt from J. Crew in the same 120 super wool ( you could buy this skirt instead of the above one if you like it better). J. Crew has lots of suiting styles so you can buy the 3 basic pieces that look the best and fit the best for you. Here it is paired with a leather jacket. A bit more casual but still very serious because it is all tonal. It is just a bit more chic to add the interest and the detail of a complimentary piece if you can get away with it in your work environment. What about throwing something like this beautiful ruffle front dress into the mix. It is again the same fabric as all the pieces above and is perfect underneath the basic blazer for the office. If you have a dinner with clients after, poof, the jacket comes off and you are good to go. It has the beauty of the feminine ruffle. It would also be dynamite underneath the leather jacket above to a luncheon or business meeting out or the office.
One of my favorite looks is a dress and jacket. I find that depending on the styling it is usually more comfortable than a skirt, blouse and jacket. But that’s my opinion, you need to try it all on and form you own. This knotted sheath dress from J.Crew is also a perfect office dress. A bit softer and flowy under your serious blazer, but also a bit more comfortable. And it is perfectly polished and put together.
Now what if you office isn’t so staid and you still wear suits but can be much more creative with patterns and styling. Then really the world is your oyster when it comes to work dressing. I still recommend having a few basics, like a black or grey suit and a couple of really good pencil skirts and sheath dresses. But how you put them together with other things and accessories can set you apart from your run of the mill office companion.
This is one of my favorite styles of blazers. It is a long, draped, tie front blazer from Whitehouse Blackmarket and it is now on sale! It is just a bit softer and flowy than a traditional blazer and I love the look with pants or over a dress. I think it is one of the perfect pieces you can reach for again and again in your closet. What about adding something with a bit more interest? This ponte window pane jacket also from WhiteHouse BlackMarket would be perfect with a black skirt or pants.It works on a more creative level and has a bit of interest.
I love this look for a creative office as well, the long vest over pants. I really think you can tailor this look to suit your height as well. For example, I am 5’4″ so I wouldn’t exactly wear this vest over wide leg pants ( although I love it if you are tall). I would wear a shorter vest ( perhaps hitting my hip line). Like this one also from Whitehouse Blackmarket and I would likely pair it with skinnier or straight let pants or a pencil skirt. They both work and are right on trend for fall, think Minimalist with a simple top and pants or take it to any trend by adding the right piece. A lacy blouse makes it Victorian. Paired with plaid pants and a colorful shirt and you are Geek-Chic. Feel free to play away and discover how far it could work for you.
You can also add interest to office pieces by adding color. Think of the beautiful pallet of colors in for fall. All the rich burgundy and greys or sharp brights and tonal softer colors like pinks and off whites. Just keep playing with what you like. How about this plaid wrap from Talbots. How good would it look with the knotted sheath above from J. Crew if you work at an office that doesn’t require a blazer. Be even more creative and belt this wrap over a skirt. It can be a make shift jacket if you want.
There is also a world of knit jackets out there. Even sometimes in the most conservative office you can wear a knit jacket or blazer with detailing. One of my favorite shows is The Good Wife. I am watching it on my tablet from the beginning. No one rocks a knit blazer than Diane Lockheart ( Christine Baranski). She uses is to play up her shape. It is always nipped at the waist and always colorful over a classic skirt or pants. Release your own inner Diane Lockheart and don a knit blazer. How about a knit moto jacket like this one from Talbots. The bright color will pop your black or grey suiting and it is an au courant style with a Glam-Goth edge in a very safe office way. I also love a longer knit jacket like this double-knit topper from Talbots. I would even wear this over a skirt (I would prefer if the jacket and skirt hit at exactly the same point on the leg but a little tailoring can take care of that). It is modern and fresh and oh so office appropriate.
What about novelty blazers? They are everywhere. All of these different jackets and blazers work on a ton of different levels. The round neck tweed jacket from J. Crew here paired with jeans ( remember that pin we put in the casual office, take it out for that look above) or would look great with a pencil skirt for the office or serious enough for the courtroom. I love the olive-green flannel double-breasted blazer from J. Crew. I love the pop of color that it would be with your darker bottom and the double breast makes it a bit more boxy so perfect with a skinny pant tucked into boots on a cold day. The tweed jacket from Talbots is what I call a classic that you can pair with everything from pencil skirts, pants and dresses to a great pair of black jeans for a casual friday look. I also love the tweed jackets paired with a denim or chambray shirt and serious skirt for an office look. And of course let’s not forget houndstooth, this blazer is the Campbell one from J. Crew. Works again on so many different levels.
Don’t forget to add accessories to change your look as well. Of course classic pearls work for the serious environment. but so do softer and more classic pieces in gold, silver and tortoise-shell. All of these types of jewellery work for the classic office look. Understated gold or silver hoop earrings and tailored styles of necklaces. You can never go wrong wearing these types of accessories to work.
But in creative or casual office you can really play with your accessories. Have fun, wear big necklaces and layer your bracelets. I love all these looks to jazz up your office look. One of my favorite looks is a bold necklace over the color of a blouse. It can make your outfit pop if you use the correct piece like the bib necklace above or the statement necklace. If you are wearing a silky soft blouse and skirt think the long layered necklace or the beaded one. They both would add pop to a solid blouse and skirt combination.
These are just some examples of accessories for an office look I pulled off the internet ( Hautelook, Talbots and J. Crew). I will be doing an entire blog about accessories at the beginning of October and will go into more detail about all of the accessories and different looks for fall.
One last note: Office shoes and boots can be tailored like pumps and high heel boots to the knee for the formal office environment. Or you can wear booties and chunky heel boots and wedge pumps etc if your office give you creative license.
I hope this blog helped my working ladies. I didn’t go into a tremendous amount of detail, so if you need more please email me. I am also available for personal styling if you really want to update your office wardrobe or find a new look that will work for you. And remember Nordstrom is now open in Vancouver and Calgary ( sorry Toronto) so go down there and see all the fabulous work looks they have put together for inspiration.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for personal styling advice or comments about what you would like me to cover on my blog or any fashion questions you may have. suethefashionista.com
Until next time, enjoy your clothes!