How to Dress Better for the Casual Work Environment

Work clothing is like toiletries. You hate spending the money on them, but you have no choice. A lot of companies these days are adopting a more casual dress code where the A-line pencil skirts and suits are a thing of the past. While this causes many employees to jump for joy, it also disrupts how they get dressed every day, and makes them think a little harder about what they are putting on in order to balance the casual with the cool. 

I've taken a few components of work dress below and offer recommendations on how you can adjust it to be more contemporary, professional and stylish. 

The Pants

Casual work environments are now allowing denim as part of their dress code, however, I find jeans to be a bit boring. Unless they have some amazing distressing, or make my butt look like J.Lo's, I'll pass for the most part. On the other side of the equation, the typical work pant often leaves you dissatisfied because they aren't flattering, come in a weird cut, or are too cookie cutter. Here are some tips on how you can implement alternatives to both jeans and the classic work pant:

  • Opt for a black pant with an unexpected twist like this one with the front zipper to add a little more style.
  • Try a looser silhouette like a striped culotte. Pair with a small block heel if you aren't that tall to help balance your proportions and the extra fabric.
  • Pair silk joggers with a nice top and chic loafers or heels to make it more office appropriate.
  • Leather always gives your outfit an instant upgrade. I recommend pairing leather pants with loose blouses for the office since most of them fit tight like a legging. Try them in another color besides black if you're feeling extra bold.
from left to right: Zip Front High Rise Black Pant- Elizabeth and James, Intermix on SALE; Striped Culotte- Soulmates, Dillards; Silk Jogger -Target; Leather Pants-  J Brand, Bloomingdales

 

The Jacket

I love a good blazer. I feel like I got a six figure raise every time I wear a tailored blazer and strut down the street with my big sunnies. They are classically great, but why stop there? There are so many jacket options right now that can help you keep your wardrobe diverse and versatile - bombers, dusters, jean jackets, leather jackets - all ranging in multiple styles.  Also, the blazer is such a staple item that has been reinvented over and over again that you can find it in some really cool options that include textures, double breasted buttons, all different colors and patterns, long or cropped, the list goes on. Below you'll see that you can pretty much layer a jacket over anything ranging from a striped t-shirt to an oxford button down or turtle neck.  Reimagine these looks without the jacket. Pretty boring, right?

 

from left to right: Leather Jacket- VINCE on SALE; Linen Blazer- J.Crew on SALE; Embroidered Bomber- Forever 21; Duster Jacket- Helene Berman, Nordstrom

The Dress

Step away from the J. Crew shift dress. Femininity had a big comeback over the past few years and we are seeing a ton of ruffles, lace and embroidery. These are only a few examples of the type of details you can look for when searching for the above average work dress. Silhouette is another key player here. Don't think that maxi dresses are just for your beach getaway. Layered under a leather jacket, it can be a very chic work look. Also, try playing around with what fits your body best. Fit and flare, drop waist, shirt waist, sheath and wrap dresses are a few types to begin with. Even the slightest detail like a unique sleeve on a simple dress can make all the difference. 

from left to right: Drop Waist Dress- MINKPINK, Shopbop.com; Wrap Dress- DVF; Shirt Dress- Missguided; Lace Maxi Dress- Free People, Shopbop.com

The Shoe

I could write a novel on this one. Leave the gym sneakers at home (yes, I see this a lot).  Remember, you're still coming into an office setting. And if sneakers are your jam, there are so many brands out there that make cool, casual sneakers versus the ones you'd work out in. Also, if you're a city girl like me, flats are your best friend, but that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice style. There are so many options for you to choose from in order to step up from the classic ballet flat that include alternatives such as metallics, embellishments, and unique fabrications, to name a few. Also, don't rule out one to two inch block heels, which I actually find to be more comfortable than flats sometimes. This will provide you with an even wider range of comfortable options when considering stylish shoes for work.  And depending on your outfit (going back to the striped culotte), having a little extra height can help balance out your entire look. 

from left to right: Velvet Mule- Rebecca Minkoff; Embellished Ankle Strap Flats- Aquazzura; Metallic Loafer- Nine West, DSW; Casual Sneaker- Adidas

I will be writing more on work style in future blog posts, but if you have any questions about updating your work wardrobe, please don't hesitate to reach out to me anytime at gianna@blenderstyle.com. Also, don't forget my Digital Daiquiri service is now available for only $89! Sign up is easy. Just click here.