How to Style Work Dresses | The Kewl Blog

How to Style Work Dresses

Last updated on : November 23 2015

what to wear to work

In the direct words of Mark Twain, “Clothes make the (wo)man.” Different situations, occasions, and places require you to don different ensembles and pull off various looks. Unless you are the bride we all avoid wearing white to weddings and if you are hosting a backyard soiree it is better to outshine your guests rather than blend in with them. The goal is to fit in with the general purpose of the event while also ensuring that you stand out and look your very best.

This may sound like an overwhelming approach and more than you can handle - particularly if you are dressing for the work force. Creating a professional, feminine, and trendy workplace wardrobe may seem like getting into shark-infested waters but there is no reason to fret. If you are feeling slightly overwhelmed with finding perfect work dresses here are a few ensembles and tips to help you get started.

Assess Your Work Environment

Figuring out what to wear to work is a tricky subject. The first step is to understand the work environment that you are a part of. For example, if your workplace is a traditional and classic environment it logically follows that your work dresses and wardrobe ought to be professional (think power suits, starched white blouses, and dresses). On the other hand, if you work in a semi-formal environment, you can experiment a little with your look, brighter colors, cardigans, and whimsical accessories.

Wearing inappropriate clothes has the potential to change your image as an employee for the worse. Show too much skin in a very traditional environment and you may draw unwanted attention. Look to dowdy amongst more modern coworkers and always be subject of workplace whispers. Each work environment is unique and has its own vibe

One way to assess your work environment is to pay attention to what your supervisors wear as well as the men in the office. If the men in your office or work environment wear ties it is best to stick to feminine blazers, realistic heels, and lovely blouses. Alternatively, if the men in your office are commonly spotted without ties your work environment is a bit more casual so sweaters, cardigans, and jean skirts with textured tights work exceptionally well. 

Create a Consistent and Professional Look

While you do not need to wear the same type of clothes to work every single day, consider creating a uniform, consistent, and signature look for yourself. The ideal is not only to save you time and money but gives you an easy comfort in knowing you have mastered a professional and feminine look. As you progress through your work life, you will be glad for the time you spent carefully crafting your professional look because getting dressed in the morning is a simple task that is routine and effortless.

Kate Stanners, creative lead for London advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, explains, " evolves because of your character and also from what makes you feel confident and comfortable. Clothes are a great way of people exploring their personalities or projecting a bit about themselves." Explore your personality, consider your body type, and zero in on a look that you can turn into a signature office style.

For example, if you always don sexy and feminine work dresses and pair them with tasteful blazers, loose fitting blouses and belts, or whimsical, chandelier earrings your look is not only classic but uniquely you, respectable, and gives you a “uniform” that easily becomes your go-to work style.

Stock Up on Professional Style Staples

When it comes to work dresses and style you need to remember two things: keep it professional and never lose your femininity. Power suits are a thing of the past because nowadays, women’s fashion have evolved and with it so have our suits, shoes, and various other parts of our wardrobe. Whether you are gearing up for formal meetings and presentations or just another day in the office, look your fabulous best in professional staples.

Professional staples are the go-to pieces in our wardrobe that simply work with any mood and for anything you plan to do in the office. Some of the top professional staples for the office include: 

The key to choosing the right professional closet staples lies in finding flattering fabrics and fit that is both comfortable and stylish. The best thing about skirts and blazers is that they are versatile workwear options. A blazer paired with a good-looking dress helps you create a work ensemble that turn heads in positive appreciation. Likewise with trouser and collared shirts.

Along with closet staples pay close attention to your blouse or top. Opt for materials such as silk, sateen cotton, or microfiber blends because they allow you to breathe (stressful meetings can often cause excessive sweating). These fabrics are also very fluid and give your body a feminine appeal that is lovely in your clothes.

During the cooler months, suits or blazers made of wool are a preferred choice. For summer clothing, opt for suits made of cotton, linen, or gabardines. While there is a possibility that you may fit snugly into off-the-rack suits, you may not quite be that lucky. If you generally have trouble with off-the-rack dresses, get them tailored for a more custom  fit.

A little black dress for the office is a staple you must choose and find. It is most certainly worth the hype. Working hours are very flexible nowadays and generally bleed into your free time. There are after-work parties to attend, investment dinners to shine in, and plenty of evening appearances to make immediately after work.

The beauty of a LBD is that it can be dressed up or down depending on your needs. Every working woman requires at least one elegant and understated black dress that she can transform into a classy evening dress at a moment’s notice by switching out different shoes and accessories. Whether you choose a classic wrap dress or a form-fitting bandage LBD begin hunting for one now. 

Work-Worthy Shoes and Accessories

One of the initial things that your coworkers and clients may notice about your work ensemble is your shoes. Naturally you should keep them clean and in good condition. When it comes to choosing work footwear it is important to think of functionality as well as looks. Low-and mid-heeled pumps between 1 to 3 inches or flats are ideal for wearing in the office. They give you enough lift to improve your posture and immediately provide femininity without effort.

Shoes with heels that are too high (more than 3 and half inches) have the potential to have you tiptoeing into looking like a hussy and thus unprofessional. Additionally, they may become entirely too uncomfortable for a complete day at work. While sneakers and flip-flops are very comfortable, they do not qualify for work wear and should be avoided in the office.

When accessorizing for work it is important to remember that less is often more. Be sure to make your accessories count and don’t settle for simple when you can aim for elegant and lasting.. From rings, bracelets, and earrings to brooches, handbags, shoes, belts, and scarves, there are many things you can use to add value to your work ensemble.

However, if you try to use everything at once, the effect may be overwhelming and create a look of chaos. Instead choose one and make it your workplace staple. Sticking to a few elegant additions that enhance your work dress and apparel easily adds a pop of color or texture to your ensemble easily.  

As we mentioned earlier creating a uniform and signature look saves you time and money. Thus, as you begin to create yours stick to one or two basic color palettes to make shopping for accessories simple and straightforward. It also ensures that you mix and match effortlessly. While choosing your accessories, pay attention to the color of your dresses and bottoms such as skirts, and pants and match accordingly.

If you tend to wear more neutral colored dresses and bottoms, your accessories should include a pop of color, prints, or patterns. The solid one color bandage dress offers you a solid colored canvas that you can accessorize with colored crystals as well as neutral accessories like pearls, gold or silver. However, if you are accessorizing with bold patterns or printed dresses, it is prudent to keep the patterns to a minimum and stick to neutrals.

Also note that other than matching your accessories with your dress, you also have to ensure that your accessories complement each other.

Ensure that your handbag or briefcase doesn’t turn into a bottomless pit of outdated fashion. Carry a bag that is large enough to include your essential items of makeup, your devices (laptops or tablets), and of course wallet. Larger bags are roomier but they can easily end up making you look frazzled and unkempt so opt for more structurally sound bags.

There are several women’s briefcases available today as well as oversized handbags that easily achieves your style goals. In rare cases that require you to carry both a briefcase and a handbag do your best to have the bags complement each other. Consider architectural bags that boast a wider shoulder strap or oversized clutch that easy for you to carry during your work day.

Outerwear Apparel, Denim, and Flip Flops

In all honestly, your office just may support a nicely tailored denim pencil skirts or dark denim wear. But the line between what is appropriate office wear and what isn’t is very thin when it comes to materials like denim and jersey. Both materials are comfortable, economical, and easy to wear, but they also run the high potential of looking sloppy and cheap. Flip flops tend to raise the same challenges so simply opt out or skip them both.

A jacket or coat makes or breaks your work ensemble. Whether you are stepping out for lunch meetings or letting your hair down at after-work cocktails the right jacket or coat is essential to getting your work and signature look just right. The right outerwear goes a long way in creating a coherent ensemble and workplace wardrobe. It is a good idea to invest in a few universal pieces such as a fitted trench coat or a tailored black, grey, or taupe waist coat that is easily worn with a number of dresses. 

Stockings, Tights, and Pantyhose

Whether you choose to wear opaque stockings or pantyhose depends entirely on your personal preferences and style ambitions. Both options are suitable work wear. With recent trends many textured tights are also very doable and lovely when the weather begins to cool. 

Pantyhose, tights, and stockings are an important addition to your overall ensemble because they give you coverage in the office and allows you to pull off shorter styles which makes your workplace apparel and dresses feminine, sexy, and soft. Wearing either is not mandatory during the warmer months, so feel free to leave the pantyhose at home during the summers and springs but be sure to embrace them as the weather cools. You should also embrace them if your dress or skirt is more than two inches above your knees while sitting. 

Realize That Work Dresses and Apparel Matter

The ultimate balance that you need to maintain while dressing for your workplace is delicate balance between looking professional, feminine (see our feminine pink bandage dresses), and approachable. Your work dresses and clothes have the power to make or break the impression you are trying to create in regards to your fellow colleagues and clients. What you wear to work has a psychological impact that you need to be mindful about.

The key is to pay attention. The next time you begin to get ready for  work, spare a thought to the kind of impression you want to make on the people you may meet in the office. If your day is planned around meeting investors or people you would like to make a positive impression on chose a dress the gives you the confidence you need to close the deal. On the other hand, if you intend to meet with creatives and want to cultivate a friendly atmosphere, one of the colorful ombre dresses with a sweet cardigan likely suits your needs better.

Adapt your dressing style, but stay true to who you are and embrace your signature workplace look. At the end of the day, the work dresses and ensembles that you shine most in are the ones that makes you feel confident, comfortable, professional, polished, feminine, and classy. Here are a few actual look inspirations and style tips for some of our most popular work dresses.

Look #1 - The Sophisticated Woman

blue midi bandage dress

Our simple blue midi-length bandage dress is for the times you need to be sophisticated and pairs exceptionally well with blazers. The dress gives you an undeniable sex appeal while keeping you covered and modest with a below the knee hemline. Adding a feminine touch with a blazer jacket makes the look work-friendly and conservative. Professional dressing does not mean that you need to stick to dark color palettes and this shade palette of blue is considered professional as are shades of beige, nude, and purple

Look #2 - The Girly Girl Boss

long sleeve bandage dress

Pair a conservative long-sleeved dress with an off shoulder style and love it. Add a black jacket for a well put-together look or simply show off your collarbones and keep it sexy yet dignified. Create a perfect fashion statement with a look that has professional stamped all over it. This dark blue long-sleeved bandage dress is a staple classic to include in your workplace wardrobe because it is feminine and only real girls in power understand its punch.

The off shoulder work dress is extremely versatile and is structured to hug your curves in all the right places. Pair it with colored pumps and a work wear jacket or trench coat when you need to step outside. Accessorize the dress with white crystals or pearls or simple go for gold. This dress features a natural waist and does not require a belt. Transform this dress for an evening event by pairing it with a luxe silk, wool, or cashmere scarf.

Look #3 - The Office Backbone

turtleneck bandage dress

With a straight silhouette and midi-length, this pink nude bandage dress is another work wardrobe staple that says you can count on me to get things done. Boasting a high choker neckline and anti-wrinkle fabric, it is work-ready when paired with a black clutch and simple gold earrings.

Complement the color of the dress with a brown chocolate colored coat or jacket. The dress features an understated and conservative fit that traces and hugs your curves yet is completely acceptable for an investment dinner or a boardroom meeting. Pair this classy dress with brighter accessories such as a scarf to transform the look from 9-to-5 to Happy Hour.

Look #4 - The Ready For Anything

off shoulder midi bandage dress

Instead of opting for a traditional skirt suit, choose this exciting midi-length black bandage dress. Not only is the longer length more formal but the flared mermaid hem adds extra femininity to the ensemble. Made from quality fabrics such as rayon, spandex and nylon, this bandage dress fits snugly and contours your body in an elegant manner. Pair with a colored blazer and pumps to complete the work look. When it is time to attend an office cocktail or meet up with clients after work you only need to switch out your shoes and shed the blazer

Look #5 - The I’m Every Woman Dress

ombre bandage dress

Work dresses need not be too bland, colorless, and masculine. In fact, easily tweak your work ensemble to include a dash of color and attitude with simple work dresses like this. This ombre bandage dress boasts a cross detailed bust and a gradient palette that goes from black and gray to a beautiful pink blush. Pair this ombre dress with a short flared black blazer, pink or nude heels, and you are board room ready. Wear your hair in a polished up-do and add simple earrings and a bracelet for polish.

Look #6 - The Never Settle

printed bandage dress

Most women shy away from bold patterns and prints when it comes to workwear. The trick to wearing patterned dresses to work is to let the pattern do the talking and go easy on the accessorizing. If you pair a patterned dress with loud earrings, dramatic footwear, and bright jackets, you miss the classy and professional look by a mile. This jacquard weaved bandage dress features an elegant Aztec design.

It is favored by celebrities like Kim Kardashian because it is versatile and flattering. The dress features short sleeves and high zippered back for a conservative and formal round neckline that gives only subtle glimpse of cleavage so it is tasteful and appropriate for the office. Pair the dress up with understated jewelry such as glossy studs, nude or black pumps, and a sweeping updo and add a tailored tan blazer sporadically to change the look.

Look #7 - The Sassy Chic

jacquard print bandage dress

Jacquard weaved dresses like this one offer a unique appeal that is both sophisticated and interesting. Though the pattern of the dress is intricate, it is balanced perfectly by the simple black on white color of the dress. Add black pumps and a simple black blazer to complete the look. The texture is what makes this dress stand out. So pair it with a well tailored blazer to keep from looking sloppy and unkept. 

Look #8 - The Girl Next Door

black classic bandage dress

This is ultimate dress in versatility. It features boasts a high back, short and flattering cap sleeves, and a natural waistline. It is a bit shorter so pairing it with opaque tights is not a bad ideal for more formal or traditional work places. The design and cut makes it an ideal choice for formal dinners and professional events. Dress it up or down with a pair of black heels, understated makeup and a simple jacket. To transform it into a more formal or polished version, opt for colored or metallic heels and brighter accessories.

Look #9 - The Professional Temptress

Color-block dresses surged to new heights in 2015. By creating a visually defined waistline and slim silhouette, this color-block bandage dress creates an appealing figure and accentuates your feminine profile. Featuring solid colors like blue, beige and black, this color-block dress is a valuable addition to your work wardrobe. Pair it with a black or beige blazer with matching pumps and understated jewelry. The lines give the dress a natural professionalism while the cutout design temps and flatters in the most modern way.

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