One good thing the recession has done is rouse fashion designers to become more pragmatic and value-conscious in response to consumer demand. Style-makers are resonating with the economic climate; presenting elegant, well-constructed, non-frilly, yet feminine options that are easily transferrable from runway to office. With these realistic standards in mind, catwalk models are finally sporting refined and redesigned traditional looks that are both fiscally and physically attainable. This fall/winter’s easy-to-wear trends cater to today’s busy career woman—“You.” The season’s blend of soft textures, jewel-tone colors, classic patterns, flowy silhouettes, demure hemlines, and contrasting trims pay attention to work-style convention, while adding just enough of a twist of modern panache.
This season you needn’t feel pressured to over-spend on an abundance of wardrobe pieces as you may already own most of what’s deemed a “must-have.” Instead, treat yourself to one or two of my top 10 office friendly style picks—sure to revive your existing wardrobe, guarantee a great impression, and get you noticed at work—without breaking the bank.
1. Houndstooth is the winning pattern of this season. This traditional black and white print pattern found in everything from dresses, skirts, scarves, coats, shoes, totes, and leggings works exceptionally well with jewel tone colors for a contemporary-chic look. The mini version of this print, referred to as “puppytooth” is suitable for the most corporate of office environments. Increase the scale of the print from medium to extra-large for an added splash of dramatic appeal.
2. Motorcycle jackets are not exactly what you would consider office appropriate in their original state. Reinvented in materials like buttery suede, lush wool, plush tweeds and modified asymmetrical zippers; the motorcycle jacket has earned its place as an alternative to the classic suit jacket. Particularly suitable for sporting in creative and fashion-forward office environments where business casual is acceptable in lieu of a suit. Choose a motorcycle jacket for business appeal that says, “va va voom!”
3. Green is the new “black.” Tones, tints, and shades of green seem to be popping up on the runway, editorial pages, retail, and e-stores. May the craze be partly attributed to global optimism for a rising economy? Perhaps so, but it is perhaps more coincidental than anything else. Regardless, I particularly love an emerald green and teal color combo. It bears the retro vintage look and feel of wild and feathery peacocks that communicates daring femininity—just what you need to bewilder your business adversary.
4. Textures are soft, nubby, tweedy, embroidered, and embossed—all of which are associated with opulence or comfort. High fashion work environments provide a natural setting for head-to-toe usage of these textures; while in ultra conservative atmospheres they may be designated to accessories such as shoes, belts, and handbags. Create interest and depth to fall looks by combining plain or twill weave textures with a variety of sumptuous textured weaves.
5. Cinched waists bring the illusion of an hour-glass figure to every body shape. Peplum dresses and belts on sweaters, jackets, and coats provide a slimming effect for thicker waists and a camouflaging solution for elongating or shortening torsos. Indented waists also appear more tailored and business-appropriate. Who doesn’t want to come across neat and pulled together at her next interview or company-wide meeting, right?
6. A-line skirts and dresses are influenced by the ultra-feminine fashions of the fifties introduced via designers like Christian Dior. With its narrow waistline and wide skirt, this silhouette reinforces the cinched waist. Paired with a short fitted jacket or cardigan, A-line skirts and dresses offer vintage style with an added advantage for women wishing to camouflage molded hips, midriffs, and buttocks. A-line skirts also balance shoulders that are considerably larger than hips. Select this look for after-hours company dinners and events for a touch of corporate class.
7. Oversized coats in bold colors and magnificent fabrics are a popular favorite this season. Adorned with details like oversized buttons, patch pockets, high-low hems, or funnel, inverted and shawl collars, these maxi coats will become your staple outerwear garment for business and play. Customize the voluminous look by accessorizing with a contrasting belt or streamline your appearance by pairing with cigarette pants, leggings, or jeggings.
8. Brooches are making their way back into your jewelry collection this season. Functional and decorative, an interesting brooch will get you noticed at the office and make you stand out at a networking event. Pin one to your lapel, shoulder, scarf, hat, or handbag and experience how much of a conversation starter a brooch can become; especially if there is an exciting travel adventure or an interesting story behind how it was acquired.
9. Leather/leatherette trim transforms the most ordinary garments and accessories into cutting-edge designer looking pieces. While all-leather apparel is typically not appropriate for business, a trace of leather on a vest, suit jacket, or trench coat offers just enough zest to update your image at work. Braided leather trims add even more visual interest and texture in a subtlety sophisticated way.
10. Smoking Slipper Loafers are this season’s most coveted footwear trend. Lasting comfort meets preppy styling—ideal for smart-casual business dressing. Choose these men-inspired flats over their feminine ballerina flat contender for a sophisticated look that is sure to earn you newfound admiration at work. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground with slipper shoes that elevate your confidence.