Alex Perry’s Ultimate Office Fashion Guide

Office fashion. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, huh? Well, forget visions of drab hued spinsters, meekly taking dictation – and think more immaculately groomed boardroom barracuda. No matter what your occupation, you can and should look fabulous and glamorous at work. Fashion isn’t only for nighttime fun, but it can be your secret weapon on the job.

Empower yourself with an ensemble of armour that says “trust me, I’ve got it together and I know what I’m doing” rather than “I’m a slob who can’t be bothered to make an effort with my clothes OR my job”.

office-fashionimage via pinterest

Follow my tips below and you will be looking more Mad Men modern chic than daggy librarian geek.

Your office wardrobe staples should embrace your femininity. Choose flattering cuts that accentuate your curves, soft fluid fabrics and bold accessories. Dressing well at work is really about boosting your confidence so you can perform at your absolute best.

Top Office Fashion Items: 

A well cut tailored suit:

A great suit will always make you feel invincible walking into that big meeting. Practicality dictates you should opt for a classic colour – black, beige, charcoal or navy; and fabric of plain twill, pinstripe or herringbone. Ensure the cut and proportion works for your body type and height. And invest a little extra on quality fabric that drapes and glides – it will flatter your body, launder well and won’t let you down. 

Pencil Skirt: Every executive-in-the-making should have one. The ultimate in office chic … Just make sure it is well fitted but yet with enough movement at the knee.

Soft Silky Blouse: the demure feminine version of the man’s business shirt. It says “I’m in control and don’t have to try too hard”.

High Heel Pumps or Sling-Backs: Make sure your heels are high, but stable enough for all day staying power. You should be able to run in them. The added height will give you a confidence boost when it counts. Carry a pair of ballet flats if you must, to wear around the office. The scene in Devil Wears Prada where the fashion girls leave their “Clackers” under their desk IS a fashion reality. Embrace it.

Trench Coat: ward off Winter weather in style with a modern classic Trench that exudes a powerful mix of mystique and no nonsense practicality.

Jersey Dress: Diane von Furstenberg pioneered this look that has long been a favourite of chic office gals – with good reason. Draped or sculpted, fun prints in comfortable jersey can be dressed up or down for long days on the go.

Accessories are the key to perking up a dull office suit. Have some fun with quirky accessories in bright shades, animal print or graphics in wild colours. This Winter, buy leather gloves, bold scarves, fun hats, piles of necklaces or add some horn-rimmed Specs for a twist. Corporate and Conservative doesn’t have to mean boring.

Grooming: Don’t underestimate the power of good grooming – polish is half the presentation battle won. Now I’m not saying you should wake up at 4am to blow dry and apply false lashes every day … keep it simple. Hair should always be clean and neat … if in doubt, running late or humidity– PONYTAIL! Keep nails short and filed square with a lick of clear gloss. If your varnish is chipped – remove it altogether. Keep make-up light and dewy, a flick of eyeliner, lashings of mascara and a slick of lip-gloss. Touch up with powder throughout the day to keep looking fresh. Carry mints to avoid the dreaded coffee breath. Take a toothbrush if it’s going to be a long day, or if you are attending an after-work event. Oh … and iron your clothes please. No one will entrust a rumpled mess.

Alterations: Go the extra mile and have all your work outfits professionally tailored to fit your body and proportion. A customised fit can make you look like a million dollar success story.

Glamour killers to steer clear of …

Clunky, chunky orthopaedic looking shoes: Yes, I’ve seen you all scuttling about in the City hoping no one notices that you’ve stolen Forrest Gump’s shoes. Well I did. So give them back. Now.

Cheap suits with ugly boxy skirts and ill-fitting jackets: These look worse than a school uniform. Bin them.

Inappropriate necklines and hemlines: If you can see a bra strap, more than 1cm of cleavage or a hemline higher than 1 ½” above knee – save it for the weekend, unless you’re a receptionist at a brothel – then go for it.

No accessories at all: Accessorising is a learned skill, like typing. Don’t be overwhelmed, practice makes perfect. Think of styling your daily look as “on-the-job training”.

Garish makeup and scary hair: Would you trust someone with your account/ business/ life that looked like a Cyndi Lauper impersonator? Say no more …

And that, my fashion officianardos, is my crash course on glamming it up at work. Embrace your inner Clacker and go forth to stylishly conquer the boardroom.

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