I’ve had quite a few people message me about the following topic & I really wanted to take some time & thought on this one. Let’s talk business attire; the one area of the fashion world that somewhat limits our options & freedom for authenticity. However, I strongly believe the following advice will bend this sad principle & help every heel-wearing, blazer-sporting, mega business babe show her voice & personality in & outside of the office. [Keep in mind, this all varies depending upon where you work & their dress code requirements.]
The big hitting question: what do I purchase? There are so many ways to wear business attire & blend in pieces from your personal, daily wardrobe, but the key to looking professional is finding timeless pieces that make you feel confident. Here are some tried & true rules:
- Find The New Classics: purchase pieces that hold longevity. Sweaters, button-ups, flowing blouses & slacks are ideal. These pieces mix & match flawlessly & will never go out of style, but don’t be afraid to play it up. The shapes of these classic pieces are ever changing to keep up with the fashion world, so I say go for a wide-legged slack & a statement belt, as these slight adjustments can change the entire era of an outfit.
- Be Reasonable: sky-high pumps are not office friendly. Instead, opt for a pair that won’t make your feet feel like balloons. Generally, a one to two inch heel is the “safe zone” for office wear & try to select a pair in the nude, cream, black or tan family, as these will move fluidly throughout your entire wardrobe. I usually go for a pump that I can wear outside of the office to validate my investment & assure me that I’m still respecting my fashion voice.
- Draw The Line: pencil skirts are the perfect way to spice up a blank or boring office wardrobe, but be picky, as length is everything with this look. Walking the line of office appropriate & chic can be tricky with any leg-showing item, so keep it safe at knee-length & you won’t ever fail.
- Blazer City: if my previous posts on blazers weren’t inspiring & intense enough, I will once again remind you of my blazer obsession. They are the perfect office attire addition & move incredibly well between business meetings & your after work glass of wine with a friend. Find yourself three favorites: one black or grey, one white or tan & one bright or bold. Having these three staples in your closet will dress up ANY look & make you feel chic & put together. Rememer: the true fit of a blazer is in the shoulders; if the stitching doesn’t line up with your shoulders, it doesn’t fit.
- Add Some Pop: nothing says “put together” with more intention than a hint of creativity & personality in your outfit. Even in the most traditional work environments, a light pop of color is acceptable [& just plain fun]. Try to stick to pale pinks, blues & even light lavenders & plums. Remember: bright tops = muted bottoms. Never do both with work wear.
- Slacked: the most important investment for your business wardrobe are pants. However, the 80’s are over & there are hundreds of options for business women today. The choice is yours, but I always believe that a fun pair of cropped pants or drawstring pants [particularly ones with strong pleats] can add interest & focus to an outfit, making it stand out among the sea of monotonous office wear. Not to mention, printed & non-printed pants are everywhere right now, so the options are basically endless.
- Know Your Environment: if you spend your entire day out on the streets of San Francisco or New York running from appointment to appointment, then be realistic about your footwear & outfit. Always opt for slacks versus skirts or dresses & a fun pointed-toe flat; the wind-chill could seriously freeze your bones, your heels may slow down your pace & your focus will be on how quickly you can finish your meetings & ice your swollen sausage toes when you get home or where your next cab is because you can’t walk anymore. No one wants to lose agility & work ethic because of their attire, particularly your boss.
& last, but not least, keep learning what pieces & shapes work for your body & your body alone. Even if Amy in the corner cubical is rocking some amazing jump-suit & five inch stilettos, it may not be right for you. The entire purpose of fashion is about finding your own style & feeling beautiful doing it, so try not to be susceptible to trends…but you already knew that, because you’re a mega powerhouse business woman who blazes her own trail. Duh.