Summer’s here! That means it’s time to store away winter clothes (if you haven’t already), and get into comfortable cute clothes to beat the heat. These days, work place fashion is all about turning the morning walk to your desk into your personal strut down the catwalk at fashion week. Here are some of my favorite summer fashion trends and ideas on how to move away from the traditional office attire and become the resident office fashionista!
1. Play with prints! While solid colors will never go out of style, this season is all about prints and patterns – and not just wearing one pattern, but mixing them together. Don’t be afraid to take that fun floral and wear it with a cute stripe! Just make sure the colors complement each other.
2. Bold colors! Summer means anything goes with regards to color. Mix it up, and pair colors like a bold coral with a dusty teal. Just make sure the colors are complementary (remember that color wheel from 3rd grade?). The phrases: “I’ve never worn it before” and “So-and-so told me not to wear it because of my skin tone and/or hair color,” are no longer excuses. Have fun and be bold!
3. The white v-neck! Maybe you’re not ready for pattern-on-pattern, or to go full color. If that’s the case, you can never go wrong with a classic white v-neck. Wear it with those crazy floral pants or that hot pink pencil skirt – it’s the perfect way to ease into something you’re unsure about. It’ll also make those accessories pop and it dresses an outfit down to keep in from feeling stuffy in the summer months. If you need something more formal, throw a black oversized blazer over it and you’re good to go from meetings, to lunch, to that 2pm email catch up at your desk.
4. Make a statement! Some of the hottest pieces on the runway are bold accessories. Just like with colors and patterns, accessories can really make an outfit pop and show off your personality. They are also a great way to change outfits at a minimal cost. A black dress can look completely different with a belt, or a necklace, or a scarf. If you’ve never been an accessory person, start with a small statement necklace or some fun earrings. Never say no to an accessory that has caught your eye!
5. Shoes! Ok ladies, the days of the scrunchy socks and sneakers with the skirt suit are over. There are cute sandals and flats (read: sensible) for every budget, so make the switch to a comfortable shoe that is also polished and professional. Change into your super fun pumps at work or rock your comfy shoes all day – whatever works! Just be sure to leave the tennis shoes for your after-work gym session.
6. Splurge this Season! Maybe you’ve been dying for something super trendy, or just have been dreaming about those classic, tan Louboutins for years. This is the season to finally go for it. Shoes can be a great way to make a statement without going over the top, or you may want to consider investing in a new work bag. Coach, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Michael Kors have all knocked off the classic Prada double zip for a fraction of the cost, while maintaining the same quality. They are all featuring great totes in saffiano leather (that’s Italian for cross stitch – it won’t tear or stain) this season as well. If you’ve had a great month and have a little extra cash, grab yourself a Louie Neverfull. Having a great classic bag will not only make you feel polished, it’ll make your clients and co-workers know you mean business. Spend now and you’ll save later. One pair of classic, high-end shoes or one quality bag will cost you the same as buying multiple ones from Target over a decade. Plus, most designers/high end department stores will resole, put on new heel caps, or fix tears for free!
7. High + Low = Style! So, we don’t all have the budget of Kim Kardashian or Duchess Kate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look like them! The dirty little secret of every fashionista is that they mix pieces from all price points. Just because it comes from Target doesn’t mean it can’t be super cute (it just means it won’t last forever). Look for pieces everywhere and mix them together for a unique look. Don’t forget about consignment shops, outlets, and places like The Rack or Off 5th Ave. A great pair of designer heels with a pair of jeans from the GAP or a killer blouse and accessories from J.Crew will look just as good as if you bought the entire outfit from Barney’s, but will save you hundreds. Finding super trendy pieces for Forever 21, Target, and H&M is a smart move, because they’ll last about as long as they’re in style. Don’t forget to shop your own closet as well – pulling out a blouse you haven’t worn in a few years can be just as fun as finding a new one at your favorite store.
Coat: Old Navy (old but similar here and here). Sweatshirt: Madewell. Skirt: JW Anderson (also here). Boots: Rag and Bone X Hunter (also here). Woven Top: Madewell. Tights: DKNY. Socks: American Apparel. Sunglasses: Karen Walker ‘Super Duper’
8. The Dress Short! Just because it’s the office doesn’t mean you can’t wear a classic, dressy short. Pleats, patterns, and fun fabrics like lace are all in style this season. Match them with a fun sweater, your favorite blazer, or a super cute blouse and you’re good to go. Plus you can catch some sun and much needed Vitamin D while sitting outside for lunch or a coffee break. Just make sure they’re an appropriate length for the workplace!
9. Update the Suit! We all have clients from conservative offices, or meetings where we want to look uber-professional. The solution: invest in a good suit. Every retailer makes them, and most will tailor to fit (plus, if you wait long enough, they’ll be on sale!). Make sure you get both a pant for heels and a pant for flats and some type of skirt. For summer, you can’t miss with a skinny tapered crop pant. Don’t be afraid to try a fun fabric or color, but if you’re on a tight budget, stick to classic black or navy and dress it up with accessories (see #4 above). The best part about a suit is the versatility, and that all the pieces can we worn separately as well.
10. Be confident! The biggest deterrent to playing with fashion is that we think we look ridiculous. Do you think Carrie Bradshaw ever put on an outfit and thought, “I look ridiculous, I can’t wear that?” – Obviously not! The key to fashion is wearing it with confidence. There will always be some things just won’t work, but don’t be afraid. If you wear it with confidence, you’ll wear it better. Practice is the key. If you’re new to fashion, buy a Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue and cut out the pictures of clothes you like, or start reading fashion blogs (like atlantic-pacific.blogspot.com). Take note of things you like and things you don’t, and pretty soon you’ll find that you’ve developed a distinct style that truly works for you. The more you play with fashion, the more comfortable you’ll become, and before you know it, you’ll be giving Anna Wintour a run for her money!
These are just a few basic office fashion rules that can help guide you through summer (and really, year round). Like with anything, fashion is about expressing yourself, and finding what you love and what makes you feel great. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, but also don’t feel bad about holding onto your favorite pair of pants. Just be you and enjoy it. Above all else, remember to have FUN!