How to dress for work and not look boring

Lubna Hamdan talks fun, work-appropriate outfits for ladies
How to dress for work and not look boring
By Lubna Hamdan
Tue 28 Jul 2015 11:24 AM

We have good news for you: dressing for work does not have to be boring ANYMORE.

The era of boring office wear is over. Today more than ever, we are surrounded by millions of options that would make for fun and work-appropriate ensembles.

Designers worldwide are creating wearables that are colourful yet professional, trendy yet classic.

Here’s another secret for you: you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to come up with a stylish work outfit. All you have to do is learn a few tricks.

1. Florals light up anything: You know how flowers make the biggest difference in a garden? The same goes for your wardrobe. A white blouse can be tucked into a floral pencil skirt and voila! You have yourself a stylish work outfit. If you don’t want to be risqué, opt for floral pointy heels. The point is, florals add oomph to an unexciting combination.

2. The coloured suit: If men are playing around with their suits, why shouldn’t we? Nowadays, you can find a suit in almost any colour. We recommend going for timeless shades like red or white. However, keep it simple with these options. If you’re going to wear a white suit, it’s already a statement on its own. Don’t over-accessorise. Also, do opt for a simple white shirt underneath and pair that with a statement necklace or earrings.

3. Upgrade the white shirt: Let’s face it, a white blouse is a must in any working girl’s closet. The upside is, it doesn’t have to be dull anymore. It can be sleeveless with a jewelled collar. It can be tucked in an A-line puffy skirt or culottes. It can be untucked and accessorized with a waist belt. So do stick to the white blouse, but do play around with it too.

4. The Midi: Midi-anything is in style right now, especially for work. The length is not too short as to be inappropriate, and not too long as to be over the top. The trend for office wear now is to match a professional-looking blouse or t-shirt with an A-line midi skirt. Another trend is a simple and modest midi dress. These can always be experimented with, however. They come in different colours and different prints yet almost always look classy and office-appropriate.

5. DO invest in a professional work bag: And by professional, we most definitely do NOT mean boring. Take the Celine bag, for example. It comes in many colours, including yellow, orange, and beige. While it’s always nice to opt for a pop of colour, the bag you invest in should be in a colour that matches almost anything, e.g. black, white, and beige. But a black Celine is never boring. It’s a Celine. Today, there are many brands that offer reasonable prices for professional looking bags. Micheal by Micheal Kors offers medium-range prices and asos.com has great lower-price range alternatives. On another note, if you do have the capability to invest in a second, colourful bag, by all means, do so.

6. Re-invent the pencil skirt: There is something about this item that screams “glamorous.” It’s been re-invented countless times. First, it was an office essential for a secretary. Then, it was made in different colours and prints, paired with a t-shirt and considered street wear. Today, a pencil skirt can be combined with almost anything. Take advantage of that and don’t be afraid to reinvent your pencil skirt. For a classy work ensemble, wear it with a casual tee and add a belt and professional heels.

7. DON’T take accessories for granted: A statement accessory can go a long way, whether it’s a pair of earrings, a necklace, a ring, or a bag. So don’t be afraid to wear bold accessories to work. In this day and age, if you don’t accessorize, you might as well be bold, literally. Is your hair not an accessory?

8. Grooming: This might not account as “clothing” advice, but grooming is part of dressing up. If your nails are chipped and your hair is all over the place, consider your outfit ruined. Don’t let yourself go when it comes to grooming. Make that extra effort, it will go a long way in terms of people’s perceptions of you and your perceptions of yourself, too. Always look “clean” for work. If you want to have coloured nails, have coloured nails, not chipped half-coloured nails. Otherwise, just keep them short and tidy. As for hair, anything from a top knot to a pony tail to a braid is applicable for work. Do experiment with your hairstyles, as long as they don’t involve the colour blue or a Mohawk. Unless you’re the editor of a fashion magazine, that’s not going to work.

9. Trousers: Are an absolute must. First of all, not only are they a life saviour when you’re late, but they're also professional and make you look like you made an effort.  Pick ones that have an added twist. It can be a ribbon on the side or a subtle pattern. Pair them with a silk blouse or a dressy top and you’re good to go.

10. The bag substitute: is the over-sized clutch. It can hold as many things as a medium-sized bag and looks super stylish. Just remember to always match it to the rest of your pieces. If it’s beaded and colourful, have a less loud shirt and pants.

11. Shoes, shoes, shoes: Whoever thought boring shoes were the only option for work, was too lazy to look for stylish ones. Fashionable shoes are not just for out-of-work activities. The market has never been so over-saturated with shoes. There are colourful ballerinas, edgy yet classy heels, pointy flats, mid-range Chanel flats (who would have thought), and many more. Don’t settle for boring-looking shoes for work. They can make or break your outfit. The secret in picking shoes for work is 1. Making sure they’re not too high and 2. Pairing them with classy pieces. That means, if your heels are a bit funky, tame the rest of your outfit, and vice versa.

12. The LAST MINUTE outfit: Finally, always, always, have a last minute, last resort, outfit. We all undoubtedly have days where we’re late for work. Late is not an excuse to show up badly dressed. This is why you need to have an outfit on stand for emergencies. This is no joke. When you only have 10 minutes to get out of bed and into your car, you will thank us for this advice. What we recommend as a last minute outfit is a either a well-fitted blazer with a white tee and jeans, a knee-length wrap dress, or any simple dress with a blazer and a belt. Nobody will ever know you had minutes to get ready, you fashionista you.

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