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Dress for success
Curating the perfect work wardrobe

Photos by Dan Bishop

July 2013

Company dress codes are a never-ending battle for women.

We often misinterpret the dress code, or donít abide by it. This is especially confusing when companies have a code in place but donít enforce it.

I often hear objections, such as: "Why do I have to look nice at work if I donít see anybody?" Itís a compelling argument. For instance, if youíre a marketing director who meets with clients every day, it makes sense to dress professionally. But for the computer programmer who sits in her cube all day, does it really matter what sheís wearing?

If you want to be promoted, it does. In a new survey, 41 percent of employers said individuals who dress better or more professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization.

Make it Your Own

Many of us resist embracing our work wardrobes because we donít fully understand how to interject our personal style into a work-appropriate look. This notion could not be further from the truth. No matter what the dress code at your job (certain extreme cases excluded) there is always an outlet for your inner fashionista.

Generally, well-placed accessories are the easiest way to add a little flair to workwear. From a little sparkle on the ear to a statement necklace or colorful scarf, accessories are a simple yet satisfying way to elevate your wardrobe.

Work wardrobe essentials like suits can be tailored for a more fashion-forward edge, while skirts may be done in a fun peplum for a bit of flair. Try a pop of color or pattern in a traditional button-up, or trade in your wide-leg pants for a more tailored, slim fit. Pointy-toe heels and patterned hosiery can also make a subtle feminine statement.

Basics, Not Boring!

Dressing work-appropriate doesnít have to be boring. First, stock your closet! Start with the versatile basics, such as a pair of tailored black pants, a well-cut suit, a classic white shirt and sophisticated pumps. Once you have the staples, you can continue to build your wardrobe to give you plenty of professional options.

Hereís a look at the essential of a well-heeled work wardrobe:

A black blazer

Trousers (black, gray and tan)

A black pencil skirt

Black pumps

Fashionable flats

Sweaters (a crewneck and a cardigan)

A trench coat

A classic work tote

A patterned blouse

A white button-down shirt

An oversized watch

A day dress

Golden Rules

Whether your place of work is strict or relaxed, there is a certain level of refinement that should always be maintained ó and things you should simply never do.

ē Obey the workplace dress code Ö whether you like it or not.

ē Avoid revealing too much cleavage.

ē Keep your straps under wraps. Never let your bra show.

ē Keep your hemlines in check. A few inches above the knee is the shortest you should go.

ē Save slinkier styles, like lacy camisoles and strapless dresses, for the evening.

ē Donít get too wacky. Itís fine to express your personal style, but keep it refined.

When in doubt, just remember this famous quote from Coco Chanel: "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." Live that advice, and youíll always make the right choice!

What to wear now:

Stay Neutral
- While pops of color often define summer style, classic neutrals can make a strong statement all on their own. Pair white with beige or black for an all-over neutral look that will stand out in the sea of expected bright hues.

Go Native
- African accents populated the runways for Spring/Summer 2013, and are strongest in tribal- inspired accents, such as statement accessories featuring elephants, woven pieces, bright stones and wooden extras.

Bling it on
- Show your rocker chic-side with edgy accents, like grommets and metalwork, on shoes, handbags, jackets and more. Just donít overdo it. Pair a hero studded piece with basics to achieve just enough edge.

This Month's Inspiration
- The Gucci Spring 2013 collection was an accessory-laden ode to flowers and sparkling jewelry. We were inspired to pair fab jewelry from local boutiques with some of our favorite early summer blooms.



This story ran in the July 2013 issue of: