[IMGCAP(1)]While many firms may have allowed their employees to enjoy somewhat lax dress code rules over the summer months, fall is around the corner and it’s time to get back to business. Say goodbye to some of the loopholes within your corporate dress codes, and welcome back the basics of formal dress in the office.
Back in February of this year, designers showcased their fall 2011 lines during New York Fashion Week. Models came down the runway in the looks of the upcoming season, and fashion editors, buyers and style mavens alike took in what’s to come for fall.
I’ve taken some notes, created some looks of my own, and pulled out some of the top trends that can easily be incorporated into the office, safely, while sticking with the style of your corporate dress code. I aim to stand out with style while keeping it professional—and so can you—by keeping a few things in mind.
While brightly colored pants, leather skirts, camouflage-inspired wear, high slits and bold plaid and tartan are probably not best bets for the office, there are a few key trends that really translate well for corporate dress.
Elegantly mod ponchos and capes
No really! OK, while you can’t strut your stuff in a poncho or cape whilst walking around the office, you can rock it on the way there! These retro ‘60s and ’70- style outerwear choices made a big splash on the runways and can add a really chic look to any business outfit on the go. They also keep you warm in the crisp fall weather and look great with a gorgeous brown, black or gray leather briefcase or handbag. Check out websites like Shopstyle.com to browse through your poncho and cape choices on the web, explore different fabrications, and find everything from designer labels to less expensive versions that look just as luxurious. This is a great alternative to the drab winter coat!
You can also pair your poncho or cape with a stylish fall or winter hat. Taking cues from the era when everyone rocked a chapeau, TV shows like Mad Men and the recent royal wedding, adding a hat can create a little flair, and give you an element of stylishness during the fall and winter months.
Ralph Lauren, Prabal Gurung and Alexander Wang, among other recognizable designers, all brought a look of high glamour to their shows with various takes on tuxedo dressing. Specifically with black and white accents, the menswear-for-women trend is back again with a more upscale look, taking cues from formal tuxedo designs.
A great way to integrate this into your work wardrobe is to focus on the stylish and graceful lines of a tuxedo, and seek out jackets, blazers and tops that fit into this theme. You can also try bib-front blouses with a structured pantsuit or skirt, or a blazer with satin piping or collar details, mirroring the look of a tuxedo or smoking jacket.
While many firm dress codes involve specifics on the correct length of skirt for women, this mid-calf skirt trend actually has no problem falling in line with what’s acceptable. While rules are set in place in order for skirts to be at a length at which you can sit comfortably in public, sometimes—depending on your size and shopping options—it can be challenging to find skirts that fit the bill. Luckily, many designers have shown these longer length looks at fashion week, and you’ll soon see various versions of them in stores across the country. Depending on your height (these skirts tend to look best on those a bit taller) the mid-calf skirt can be paired with ballerina flats, towering heels or chic boots. They also look great with a thick belt, crisp dress shirt or blazer.
Fall footwear and hosiery
While acceptable footwear for women varies at each firm, here are two inspirational ideas of how to stay on trend with your bottom half.
Moccasins, loafers and ballerina flats: These flat shoes are trendy, comfortable and look great. They come in a wide range of materials and can be as dressy and embellished or as plain Jane as you wish to go. Some recommendations of a classic look are black leather or patent loafers (think the classic Tod’s silhouette), a fun and flirty ballerina flat, or a soft, rich suede moccasin in a warm brown or gray. These styles can all be paired with tailored slim-fit pants or a skirt, and make it easy to get from client to client in comfort.
Pantyhose: Again, dependent on your firm’s dress code, panty hose may be unavoidable. But fear not, recent global “it” girls Kate and Pippa Middleton have started to bring them back, and women are clamoring to find the right styles and colors to look as great as British royalty.
The Middleton sisters have been photographed recently rocking sheer pantyhose with a slight sheen, making them cool once again. Part protocol (it’s more ladylike), and part convenience (smoother, tanner, fitter looking gams), the Middleton’s are inspiring women to take a second look at all of the style options out there.
Check out British brand Aristoc, the UK’s leading hosiery brands, manufacturing a wide range of high-quality tights, stockings, socks and leg accessories. They have some amazing looking items to stay on top of the trends, and although they may be a bit pricier, are said to be the highest of quality and last loads longer than your usual drug store brands.
What fall trends are you looking forward to wearing in the office? Share in the comments!
Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.