Dressing for work can be a tricky line between what your boss considers professional attire and what you want to wear to still look stylish. Let’s face it, knee-length grey skirt suits are out. This is no longer what women want to wear to work and why should they? There are plenty of looks ready and waiting to be put together by you to ensure you walk into the office next week feeling fabulous and looking even better.
Here, we take a look at our top tips on how to dress professionally at work with your unique stylish edge at all times to make the best first impression at the office.
What Is a Professional Dress Code?
Every office’s professional dress code is slightly different but when it comes to dressing for work, a meeting or a job interview, there are certain pieces best avoided and certain fashion items that become must-haves. Understanding your work’s business culture will help you to understand the differences between business professional and business casual and what your company expects from you in terms of appearance. Our advice? Always opt for a little smarter than you think, ensuring you avoid the uneasy feeling of walking through the office knowing you’re a little underdressed.
Whether you opt for a head to toe business suit or a more casual dress will entirely depend on your individual business' culture and expectations but ensuring you dress for success is essential.
Things to avoid:
· Plunging necklines of any kind
· Strapless or too-strappy tops
· Sequins or heavy embellishments
· Anything midriff baring
· Sheer tops or dresses
· Yoga pants (sorry ladies)
One of the most important things about dressing professionally in chic business attire is to get the fit right. The chicest trouser suit can be ruined by choosing a fit that doesn’t suit you, so take the time to choose outfits for work that fit properly and flatter your individual shape.
Top Tips to Dress Professional While Remaining Stylish
So, in light of a more relaxed professional dress code, let’s take a look at some of our stylist’s top tips for dressing appropriately but always with style in mind.
Ditch your boring work dresses
For some reason, many ladies find themselves drawn to simple, plain and let’s face it, pretty boring dresses when shopping for a formal dress for their professional wardrobe. But these dresses don’t make you feel stylish, they don’t make you actually feel professional, and they don’t make you more confident. So, our advice? Ditch them.
Stylish dresses are not unprofessional. As long as you choose the right shapes and styles.
Which kind of dresses are most professional and still stylish?
We’re glad you asked.
· Shirt dresses – Eternally chic and forever a favorite, the shirt dress is classic but stylish and by choosing a midi length and pairing with pointed pumps, it’s also perfect for the office.
· Wrap dresses – Wrap dresses are modest, yet flattering, which is the perfect combination for a work dress.
· Knitted dresses - quite often forgotten, knitted dresses are an ultra-stylish dress option, perfect for workwear style. Opt for mid-length and long sleeves for a comfortable take on office attire.
Add a couple of blazers to your workwear wardrobe
Blazers are a stylish must-have even if you don’t opt for the full trouser suit with matching jacket. A blazer makes any outfit instantly chic and adds a professional edge to a slightly more casual look, which can be the perfect update if you’ve put together an outfit that’s not quite smart enough for work.
If you do want the head to toe tailored look to really impress your co-workers, remember to check out our guide on how to choose the perfect women’s suit.
Neutral colors, such as black and navy are always a strong choice but don't forget to consider softer tones, such as camel and nude as well as statement hues, like a bold red.
Invest in a white shirt
A white collared shirt can either look phenomenal and beautifully chic or cheap and ill-fitting. Unfortunately, that line is pretty easy to cross. Therefore, a button-down shirt is the perfect workwear piece to invest in a designer option with a little help from Shop It To Me. Choose from brands, such as Chloe and Vince, and you’ll never have to worry about looking professional and stylish again.
Pair a crisp, tailored white dress shirt with anything from a pleated midi skirt to leather-look trousers for a smart workwear look with a lot of added sass.
If shirts aren't your style, ensure you have a few crisp, luxe quality white t-shirts in your closet to layer with blazers and midi skirts for an up-to-date look.
Don’t be shy with accessories
When we say don’t be shy, we don’t mean go crazy, there is a time and place for bling and it doesn’t tend to be in the office. However, that doesn’t mean you have to banish the accessories either. Allow yourself to get a little creative with how you style your professional workplace outfits and just adding a few of your “weekend” accessories could make all the difference in making your professional looks a little more stylish.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
· Try a chic headscarf – Wear as a headband or create a bow around your pony tail for an ultra-stylish, yet still overtly professional addition to your look.
· If you’ve chosen a simple dress or knit, add a couple of delicate chains instead of a bold statement necklace, which can look dated and less stylish.
· Wear a logo belt to break up your look, injecting a touch of designer style without any unprofessional overkill.
When it comes to accessories for professional workwear looks, quality is key. Choose ultra-chic pieces from Shop It To Me and save money on all your designer goodies.
Choose good shoes
Shoes are a very important part of your workwear look. You’ll be wearing them all day long and often more than once a week, which means that they can’t rub or hurt your feet even a little bit. When it comes to choosing the right styles, this will hugely depend on whether you like to wear heels or flats but our best advice? Ensure you have both in your workwear wardrobe to give yourself the option and NEVER opt for flip-flops.
For heels, every working woman needs a pair of classic and effortlessly chic pointed pumps as dress shoes. Here is where it’s really important to invest in a great pair of beautiful quality shoes because not only will it mean that they last you for much longer but the more luxury you choose, the more cushioned and comfortable they tend to be.
Choosing brands like Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo might sound out of reach to most. However, on Shop It To Me, you’ll find these high end designer labels offering classic, forever in-style pumps at up to 50% off the RRP. This price drop suddenly renders them great deals if it’s a staple shoe that goes with absolutely everything in your workwear closet.
When it comes to flats, professionalism and style are even more important for workwear. Don’t fall into a round-toe ballerina flat hole. Flats can be sleek, chic and, on-trend if chosen well. Opt for flats with pointed toes for an ultra-stylish alternative to the heeled pointed pump, particularly elegant when paired with pants.
If you’re not a fan of a pointed flat, try lace-up brogue styles which can look contemporary and a little edgy but overtly professional or even a chic leather loafer.
Flats style best with dress pants with a tapered and cropped fit for a slick on-the-go finish. Plus, also remember to keep them in good condition. There's nothing less chic than a battered pair of ballet flats at the office!
When you’re piecing together the perfect workwear wardrobe and working out how you want to dress professionally but still remain stylish, quality is one of the main factors. Choosing fewer pieces at a better-quality standard instantly creates more stylish looks and allows you to both look and feel more professional and comfortable in your day-to-day outfits. This also works wonders when planning your casual attire so remember to employ the same ideas outside of your business formal wardrobe.
If you’ve created a look you love for work, finish it with the perfect hair and makeup. Forget anything too heavy and stick to light, clear skin and delicately applied eye makeup, with a focus on brows and mascara over any heavy eye shadows or eyeliner. If you’re not a fan of washing and blow drying your hair every morning (and who is!?) perfect a chic low pony tail or messy bun that can become your go-to professional style.
We created a blog post all about building a professional capsule wardrobe, which highlights some key designer pieces to add your closet using Shop It To Me, helping you to create professional and stylish workwear looks every morning.