The Ultimate Guide to Dressing for the Office

Work-appropriate attire has a reputation for being both restrictive and frumpy. For the stylish woman, restrictive dress codes at the office can be the one bad part of an otherwise great jobs. Fortunately, there are plenty looks you can rock in the workplace that allow you to express yourself, be comfortable, but still meet the rather restrictive rules in the employee handbook.

Basic Building Blocks

Even the most pulled-together girl has mornings when she wakes up late and can’t seem to find a single thing to wear. That’s where work wear basics come into play. By stocking your closet with basic pieces that can be put together in a number of different ways, you can be sure you’ll have tons of different clothing combinations, all of which work well together.

Some essential basics include a couple of pairs of dress pants or knee-length skirts, as well as modest pullover shirts or button downs. Add a pair of patent leather flats for the days you expect to be on your feet, as well as a pair of pumps for days you need to dress up a little. Having a great suit for job interviews and important meetings can’t hurt either.

Different Types of Work Attire

Some offices require more formal attire, while in others business casual is more than acceptable. The building block of business formal attire is the basic suit. For women, suits can have a skirt or pants, but whatever is on the bottom must be paired with a jacket or blazer on top. In some instances, a dress with a blazer over it is also acceptable.

Business casual is easier to style. It generally does not require wearing a jacket. A pair of pants or a skirt paired with a pullover or button-down shirt is usually acceptable. However, some offices may have specific restrictions on what can be worn, such as a ban on open-toed shoes or a requirement that skirts be worn with nylons.

Some Outfit Ideas

  • A black skirt, white button down shirt, and red shoes

  • A neutral pencil skirt and a silky sleeveless blouse in a bright jewel tone

  • A high-waisted pair of trousers with a light, breezy blouse tucked into them and a cardigan sweater

  • A plain fitted or wrap dress in a bright color with a contrasting belt

  • A business suit in a bright color like red or blue

Just because office attire tends to be more conservative doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself. Invest in some statement jewelry or unique accessories to personalize your look.

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