With a little moderation, these 10 trends will have you looking totally fashion-forward at the office—without looking like a fashion victim.
1. Black and White
Maybe it's a backlash against the wild colors of the past few seasons, but graphic black-and-white looks were EVERYWHERE during the shows in New York and London. Pair a black-and-white blazer (in a less extreme silhouette, of course) with a black pencil skirt and a pair of black kitten heels and call yourself promoted.
2. All Buttoned Up
All that stands between you and an ultra-modern wardrobe update? A few buttons. Button-down shirts are all buttoned up these days, lending a vaguely '80s chic vibe to your look (think Sean Young in Bladerunner). Pair with pretty much anything (pencil skirt, skinny jeans, wide-legged trousers - really, almost anything), plus just a touch of attitude.
3. Pretty Floral Prints
Those who love feminine, pretty styles can breathe a sigh of relief: stores are starting to fill up with whimsical, delicate prints that hearken back to the '40s, '50s and '60s. From soft shirtdresses to easy button-downs, this look is pretty much a no-brainer for work. Hooray!
4. Mesh, Lace and Cut-Outs
Slightly more challenging—but a feature of almost every important show this season—mesh, lace and cut-outs. The challenge for work? Rocking some fresh mesh without looking like a slut or a slacker. The solution? Ladylike looks with a sweetly vintage vibe like this skirt from Yigal Azrouel (just ignore everything that's happening above the waist in this picture). Crochet is a big win, too, as long as you have a tasteful foundation garment underneath.
5. Retro Silhouettes
Holy smokes but retro is IN. From Marc Jacobs to St. John (and everything in between), the mod '60s are back in ferocious force. And, honestly, I couldn't be happier. These bright double-knit (I know, right?) dresses from St. John are pretty much universally flattering, and office appropriate for almost every industry. Ladylike, chic, and totally now? Yes, please.
6. Mustard Yellow
So, this is really happening. Mustard yellow is a thing this year and it's stubbornly persistent. However, once you get the hang of it, this old-school color is pretty easy to wear. Much like the condiment, it lends a refreshing spice when properly deployed. Start small at first, like yellow piping on a blazer, or a yellow handbag. Then maybe move up to yellow accents in a printed skirt or blouse. Once you're ready, dive in with blazers, cardigans, scarves and blouses.
Oscar de la Renta
7. Cropped (Leather) Jackets
The cropped jacket remains one of the hottest looks on the runways. This one by Jason Wu manages to capture four trends at once: quilted, moto-inspired, cropped and tasteful nude/beige. Not bad for a night's work, eh? The cropped silhouette is a little edgy, but it plays nice at the office when paired with a polite sheath dress.
8. Animal Print
Marc Jacobs delivers a trifecta of trends in this amazing coat: black-and-white, totally-retro and a graphic animal print that stays firmly on the right side of stylish. If all that giraffe is a little too much for the workplace (unless you work at an ad agency or in fashion, it probably is), try toning it down with a more discreet print that fades softly into the background but doesn't disappear. Or go for the bold with a wild, animal print handbag or pair of smoking slippers (or pumps) that pack a pretty punch.
9. Sparkle and Shine
Shimmer is a sure bet when it comes to the catwalk, but you need to tone it down a little for work or you'll risk looking like Christmas tinsel. Derek Lam delivers a tasteful option in this rust-and-gold pencil skirt that would love divine with a soft, simple sweater (think black crew-neck with three-quarter sleeves) and black pointy-toe pumps.
10. Pop-of-Color Everything
Remember how all the stores the past few seasons have been practically exploding with clothes in eye-popping hues? Well, those clothes are still in style, and will be for at least two more seasons. So keep working those brilliant blazers, pop-of-color purses and citrus-hued shoes. Even if your boss found them shocking at first, she's probably used to them by now. Heck, she's probably rocking some candy colors herself.
What are your favorite Fashion Week looks? What runway trends did you absolutely hate this season? And (most importantly) how do you bring fashion to the office without turning off your more conservative co-workers?
2. Like everyone, we're in love with all things burgundy right now. If you're on the burgundy bandwagon, too, take heart. The BDG Suede Riding Boot from Urban Outfitters for $79.00 will satisfy your cravings without blowing your budget. Which is sort of amazing, considering the fact that they're real suede. (Good news for those who despise burgundy: They also come in four other yummy colors.)
4. Remember in the Lord of the Rings when Gollum kept whispering, "My precioussssss," to the Ring of Sauron? (NERD ALERT!) That's how we feel about the Shiny Heel Ankle Boot from Zara for $49.00. Just look at them. They have a chunky gold heel and THEY ZIP UP THE BACK. Who cares if they're not real leather? Wear them with anything or with nothing at all (option two not recommended for work).
5. With subtle stitching and that luxe burgundy shine, these classy ladies are destined for greatness—or at least daily rotation in your work wardrobe. Burgundy Franco Sarto 'Learn' Boot, $99.95 from Nordstrom. (For $100, you might hope these are real leather. But they're not.)
If you're dying to update your work wardrobe but can't spring for a serious shopping spree, set your sights on the latest accessories. From tribal bangles to oh-hell-yes handbags, our top six picks for fall will take your look from ho-hum to totally hot—for prices you can actually afford:
Ease into this season’s tough luxe trend with an ultra-chic studded bag from Zara. Made from 100% buffalo leather, it’s a steal at $199.
Work the Angles
Wrap It Up
A graphic scarf is the perfect way to tie your look together. Bold colors are still in vogue, but a black-and-white print is the most modern way to wear it.
Chunky, clunky, oh-so-funky…oversized watches are definitely having a moment. Bust out your grandpa’s retirement watch or treat yourself to this vintage-inspired beauty from Nixon for $125.
Up your meow factor with a pair of leopard-print shoes. J. Crew offers them in the season’s most fabulous silhouettes, like these ‘60s-inspired pumps that practically beg for a raise (and a three-martini lunch).
What are your favorite fall accessories? Don't be shy—we'd love to hear from you in the comments!
By Amy Leigh Morgan
Did you know that Banana Republic is constantly having flash sales, both online and in store, for up to 40% off of new items? It’s true. Just sign up for their email newsletter and you’ll be set to save almost half off on pieces like tailored wool blazers, lace-overlay pencil skirts and no-iron button-downs. Deals like that totally earn their way into your inbox.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Zara store in your city, you already know how amazing their clothes (and prices) are. But for those of you who haven’t met this Spanish retail powerhouse yet—get ready to find the best deals on well-made, super-cute clothes maybe in the whole world. Peplum pencil skirts. Pop-of-color booties. Sleek, structured handbags. All for under $100 each. You’re welcome.
For those who love a treasure hunt, the Nordstrom Rack is a gold mine. Upscale retailer Nordstrom buys work-appropriate clothes specifically for their sassy little-sister store, but the real steals are in the overstock and returns that the main stores send down the discount stream to the Rack. Shop here for wool gabardine suits from Theory, DVF suede pumps, and elegant separates from Vince—at up to %75 off the original retail prices.
Helpful hint If you see something you like, buy it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. You can always return it later if you decide it doesn’t work for you.
When it comes to work basics, it's hard to beat the Gap. From wrap dresses to handbags to adorable ballet flats, pretty much everything in their "Style at Work" section is stylish, affordable, and work appropriate. In fact, we only spotted four items over $100 on the entire page, all of which were leather bags that will last you for years.
Don't be fooled by the intense graphics and trendy teen models: online mega-brand ASOS is a great resource for work clothes if you know how to look. Although they don't have any storefronts, they make up for it with free shipping and returns, a truly staggering (and stylish) selection, and an Etsy-style marketplace where fashionistas around the world buy from and sell to one another.
Caveat emptor With more than 40,000 brands to choose from, you win some, you lose some when it comes to quality. But the style? Now that's guaranteed.
The bad news: The only time J. Crew really approaches affordable these days is during their clearance sales. The good news: They have a lot of clearance sales. With a little luck, you can easily score wardrobe staples (herringbone pencil skirts, schoolboy blazers) for prices you can actually afford.
Local consignment stores
Your key to success when it comes to consignment shopping: Shop in wealthy neighborhoods. Rich ladies often take last season's looks to their local consignment store to earn back a percentage of the original retail price. Combine that fact with the consignment buyer's keen curatorial eye, and you've got a recipe for officewear success at prices that won't break the bank.
Much like ASOS, H&M is primarily marketed to teens and twenty-somethings, but don't let the short-shorts and gold platform sandals deter you. Tucked between next season's most shocking fashions lie some solid pieces you can proudly wear to work, like crisp, cotton button-down blouses, well-constructed blazers (fully lined!), and sheath dresses in a rainbow of colors.
Note The prices are crazy low—which means the quality often is, too.
Ann Taylor LOFT
When I asked Sylvia Krzmarzick, Senior Human Resources Manager at NASA, where she shops for work clothes, I expected her to rattle off a list of expensive stores most of us can only dream about. Instead she enthusiastically cried, "Ann Taylor LOFT!" And she was spot on. The LOFT is sort of like the lovechild of Banana Republic and the Gap: softly conservative pieces that can go from desk to date, for under $100.
With guest designers like Jason Wu and Rodarte, Target easily blows every other bargain retailer out of the water. But you don't have to shop the limited-edition capsule collections to find super-cute work clothes at Target. John Varvatos and Isaac Mizrahi are resident designers, offering street-meets-sweet styles at prices that hit the bull's eye every time.
It's that time again: the nights are getting chilly, the leaves are starting to turn, and working women everywhere are packing away their tank tops and breaking out their sweaters. But don't be dismayed if you're not totally thrilled with last year's workwear. It's easy to update your look without breaking the bank—check out these five essential pieces that will take your work wardrobe to fashionable new heights:
- The Pencil Skirt
A must-have for any work wardrobe, a good pencil skirt immediately makes you look polished and professional. While you could easily spend a couple hundred dollars on a fully lined wool skirt, your budget will thank you for starting with this pretty stretch-cotton version for $50 at the Gap.
- The Contrast-Collar Button-Down
Black-and-white is big this fall, so try a white button-down shirt with a black contrast collar. Restrained and elegant, this blouse instantly takes your look to the next level. Pair with a pencil skirt for work, or skinny jeans for night out with the girls.
The Structured Blazer
Don't be one of those ladies who keeps a frumpy cardigan at her desk to ward off the air-conditioning. Try a structured blazer instead—it's the most stylish way to say you mean business. A slightly shrunken silhouette flatters your figure and keeps this traditional piece looking fresh.
- Oxford Heels
Step up your game with a pair of oxford heels that hits two trends at once: fall's hottest hue (luxe burgundy) and menswear-inspired everything. These beauties are versatile, too. Wear with textured tights and an a-line skirt for a vintage vibe, or with coated-denim skinnies and a structured blazer for totally modern appeal.
The Structured Handbag
Pull your look together with a promotion-worthy handbag that's practical enough for your commute, yet stylish enough to satisfy your inner fashionista. Like a structured blazer, the structured handbag subtly communicates to your boss that you're a well-organized professional who takes her job seriously. (Which you totally are, right?)
This sleek bag from IIIBeCa comes in basic black, plus three pop-of-color options if you're feeling sassy. It also offers the added bonus of a snap-in drawstring lining—perfect for transferring your stuff from purse to purse.
The world of office wear and the world of high fashion can sometimes feel like they’re mutually exclusive—but it’s easier than you might think to bring your favorite runway looks to work. Don’t believe us? We’ve picked out five key trends for fall and adapted them for your 9-to-5. Check it out:
1. Snake Charmer
Believe it or not, this “wild” print is popping up everywhere in polite society, from maxi-dresses to mini-clutch purses and beyond. The key to wearing it in the corporate jungle: a muted print in a neutral color, like these printed, skinny pants from NYDJ; or this smart pencil skirt from Macy's for under $50. Pair with a tasteful white button-down and a shrunken blazer for maximum professional appeal.
2. Tough Luxe
Get your motor running and head out on the highway…for your morning commute, that is. Spring’s ice-cream-parlor pastels have given way to dark, edgy pieces that are tailor-made for rebels without a cause. Rev up your work wardrobe this fall with a moto-inspired leather jacket thrown over a classic shift dress.
3. Better Off Red
It’s burgundy’s turn to be the new black, which is great news for your office attire. This rich hue has connotations of wealth and authority, so embrace it with a structured handbag that practically negotiates your raise for you, like this one from Chloé.
Feeling brave? Try mixing two trends: a burgundy leather skirt from J. Crew does the trick nicely, especially when paired with a soft, cashmere sweater.
4. Fit to Print
Those old enough to remember the ‘60s and ‘70s may experience an involuntary shudder at the thought of patterned pants, but trust us when we say that this trend is totally fresh. Skinny and cropped is the way to wear them these days, preferably with a pair of pointy-toe kitten heels. Mad plaid is your best bet for the office—try the Theresa pant from Tory Burch or a less expensive (but still chic!) pair from the Gap.
5. Prim and Proper
If leather jackets and python-print pants are a little much for you, take heart. The flip side of this season’s wild-child coin is a mega-dose of ladylike charm, in the form of Peter Pan collars, circle skirts and sweet, floral prints. To keep things looking stylish, not saccharine, stick to an autumnal palette. This mustard-yellow, printed blouse from ASOS is the perfect complement to a black pencil skirt.
Just remember: no matter what the trend, the key to a great office look is subtlety. You want your boss (and your boss’s boss) to recognize you for your work, not your wardrobe.
*Thanks to Polyvore for the images.
At first glance (ahem) big breasts may seem like a blessing, but unfortunately they can inspire a range of less-than-ideal reactions from co-workers and managers—from unwanted advances to unwarranted jealousies. So how do you dress for success without strapping your girls down or hiding them under a baggy sweater? We've got four simple solutions that will flatter your figure without going overboard:
- Invest in a great bra.
Remember when Oprah shocked the world by announcing that most of us are wearing the wrong bra size? Before you do anything else, go to a real lingerie department and get fitted by a professional. You’ll be amazed at how much better you look in your clothes.
For the seriously busty, Big Girl Bras offers extra-large sizes in pretty styles, while lingerie site Bravissimo gets rave reviews for selection, quality and customer service. (Bravissimo is based in the UK, so check the exchange rate before you shop.)
- Say “bye-bye” to buttons.
There’s nothing worse than a button-up shirt that gaps at your bustline and bags around your tummy. Carissa Rose offers a variety of “button-up” work shirts made especially for busty ladies. Not only are the shirts tailored to flatter your figure, they use clever hook-and-eye closures instead of buttons, so your shirt stays securely fastened with no gapping or pulling.
V-neck or sweetheart-neck knits are another good option, especially when paired with a peplum blazer that emphasizes your waist.
- Slip into a sheath dress.
With her streamlined silhouettes and modest necklines, Christina Hendricks’ character in Mad Men, Joan Harris, is a case study in flattering attire for curvy girls. Costume designer Janie Bryant keeps Joan in good taste by tailoring every piece: even an inch too tight starts to look slutty, while an inch or two too big heads toward sloppy.
For Mad-Men-worthy frocks, Trashy Diva earns high marks for pretty, well-made dresses that would make Joan proud. But if modern is more your thing, UK-based company Pepperberry offers an outstanding assortment of dresses for busty women.
- Get to know your neighborhood tailor.
Believe it or not, having your clothes tailored is often the easiest, most affordable way to a phenomenal wardrobe. For as little as $25, a good tailor can add darts, take out excess fabric around the waist and clean up the hems of all your dresses and blouses.
Want to know more? Check out thinandcurvy.com, an awesome resource for big-chested women looking for reviews and recommendations for everything from bras to ball gowns.
Photo: Sergei Kozak/Getty Images