There is a common misconception that dressing professionally means that you have to wear boring blazers and plain pantsuits. But, dressing fashionably is not mutually exclusive from dressing professionally. On the other hand, just because a hot trend catches your fashion fancy, it doesn’t mean that it’s always the best choice for the office. Below are the top fashion trends to take to your office, as well as which to leave in your closet for after office-hours.
Paneled Silhouettes: From Jason Wu’s chic pencil skirt and Victoria Beckham’s formfitting dresses to Preen’s two-toned pants, the use of panel details creates a fashion-forward look that is entirely office appropriate. Not to mention that they can also create a very flattering silhouette. To take this trend to work, look for individual pieces that create a little unexpected drama in colors that work with other pieces already in your wardrobe.
Textured and printed fabrics: Who said that business has to be boring? One of my favorite office-worthy trends for the season was the great use of textures and prints in fabrics. Look to Nanette Lepore’s chartreuse and berry houndstooth, Michael Kors’ mix-and-match textures and Derek Lam’s allover printed dress and for inspiration. To make this really work for the office, use the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle for the rest of your look and keep your hosiery, shoes and other accessories simple and elegant.
Menswear: As one who is partial to a suit and tie from time to time, I love the continued emphasis on menswear with a feminine touch. Ralph Lauren did his with fabulous patterns and Rachel Zoe amped up the femininity by pairing hers with a romantic blouse. To avoid looking like you are playing dress up in your daddy’s closet, focus on really well-tailored pieces. Also, incorporate accessories in flirty colors.
All White: All white is a sleek and gorgeous minimalist look, but it is completely impractical for an office environment. One leaky pen, copy machine incident or clumsy co-worker can take you from runway to “I need to run away”. If you want to give this trend a whirl, during your business day is probably not your best option.
Sheers: If you work in a professional environment, the only time that sheer should enter your workday fashion vocabulary is after the word “pantyhose”. Sheers can be fun and sexy, but they are not office appropriate. Save them for nights and weekends. If you are looking for a day to night look, try layering a sheer blouse under a fitted sweater and when you head out after work, rock the sheer by itself, but only after-hours.
Fur: Although fur was all over the runway this season, it’s not a strong choice for the office. Fur is polarizing in the same way that politics are- everyone has an opinion and many take their opinions very seriously. Bringing fur to the office can cause unintended rifts with coworkers or even clients and customers. If you are crazy about fur, consider limiting it to your outerwear so that you don’t have it on all day.
Proceed with Caution…
All Black: This may be a bit of the pot calling the kettle black because I love black, but too much head-to-toe black can make you end up looking like you stepped right out of SNL’s Sprockets sketch from the 1990s. If you are going to embrace this trend, try mixing different textures of fabric to give the look some extra depth or bring in a pop of unexpected color through your shoes or jewelry.
Military Jackets: A number of really great military jackets were shown this season. This can be a great trend if it is not overdone. Think about layering a military jacket over a simple sheath or pairing it with a great pair of pants to create a pantsuit with a bit of flair. However, be careful when selecting the military jacket. Too much in the way of hardware or embellishments can take you from looking like a business leader to the ringleader in a circus.
Metallics: Metallics are a bit difficult to incorporate into the office environment. If you are going to go this route, only bring in one metallic element into your outfit and keep it to outfits where the rest of the color palette is more neutral. Incorporate metallics into your accessories, such as a great textured oversized belt over your suit or skirt and top combo or wear metallic shoes to offset a more neutral colored dress or trousers.