Dressing well, while still appearing professional, is a delicate balance to strike. You want to adhere to your company’s dress code, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate your own stylish flares throughout your outfit. How much of your own stylish flare you include in each outfit depends heavily on the type of organization you work for and the field of your profession.
High-Power, Competitive Jobs
Working at a corporate law firm or a major investment bank comes with many benefits. However, freedom of fashion is not among these perks. Pay attention to the women in positions of leadership at your company and follow their lead. In a conservative or traditional work environment, your clothing should, first and foremost, communicate competence and power.
Creative Business and Professional Casual Jobs
Magazine publishing, public relations, advertising and marketing cover a wide range of fields. These jobs are still very much business-casual, but the inherently creative nature of these fields often means you can infuse your outfits with slightly more colorful and creative fashion trends.
Working at an educational institution or a childcare center, whether as a teacher or an administrator, allows you certain lead-way with your wardrobe. While your clothing should never be provocative or sloppy, your options for colors, materials and cuts are plentiful.
Even in the most traditional of companies, you don’t want to confuse dressing conservatively with wearing dowdy clothing. Avoid wearing shapeless pant-suits or over-sized blouses that could be mistaken for something from the men’s section. Instead, pair dark pencil skirts with tailored, oxford shirts that have darted seams. Darted seams give you shape, without being clingy or revealing.
Close-fitting blazers are a popular trend this year, one that goes well with matching tailored pants or a knee-length skirt. In a conservative office culture, your suit pieces should match. In a more lenient working environment, feel free to mix and match a colorful floral-print skirt with a poppy-colored blazer.
Add color beneath your blazer, but do so strategically. For example, a conservative organizational culture requires limiting the shirt under your blazer to only the palest of colors. A less strict work place, however, means you can experiment by layering a canary-yellow blouse beneath a dark pinstriped jacket.
Tops and Bottoms
One fail-safe trend for the upcoming year is pairing dark bottoms with light tops. This can mean everything from a dark, pin-stripped skirt and a pale blue blouse, to dark brown pants and a cream cardigan set. Experiment with colorfully woven tweed pants paired with a basic black knit top.
When wisely purchased, your work-dresses should be among the most versatile items in your wardrobe. Bold colors, like turquoise and magenta, are popular this year, as are floral prints, but not everyone’s workplace will accommodate either.
A black, knee-length, sleeveless sheath dress with darted seams is a staple for every woman’s work apparel. Pair the dress with a beige blazer or cardigan inside a conservative office. In a less-stringent office, switch the blazer for an open, translucent, plum-colored blouse and a patterned scarf around your neck.
Always take your fashion cues from the women above you on the corporate ladder. If you notice your female superiors wearing bright-colored scarves or artfully patterned prints, you will know it’s appropriate to add your own colorful accents. However, if you notice that the color spectrum in your office only runs from neutral to darker neutral, you’re better off donning clothing in similar hues.
Images provided from Workchic.com: