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Work Fashion

From frocks to socks: Updating your spring work wardrobe

We gathered some of the season’s hottest (and most accessible) trends and ways to update your work or interview style to look seasonal, fresh and always profesh*.

  • Detailed sleeves: “Right now the key trend is about unique details and touches especially on the sleeves of otherwise conservative blouses and dresses. These details can take a classic polished look and make them more experimental, current and fun” says Jessica Dvorett, VP Merchandising at online clothing subscription service Gwynnie Bee. If you find yourself unable to fully commit to the trend, you can try it on for size and see how your colleagues react before splurging for some new tops.
  • Fresh ties and short sleeve button downs: Fortunately for the fashion-forward male, a professional work wardrobe doesn’t remain trapped in the Mad Men era. Personal stylist Vanessa Valiente said, “For men, I recommend adding some fresh ties and a tie bar to update your work wardrobe.” If your work environment is edgier or more casual, Valiente says it’s fine to “add a crisp printed short sleeve button front shirt to tuck into your chinos.”
  • Comfort to cocktails: For women in the workplace, there’s also the idea of navigating the work to after-work life and keeping things both professional before segueing to dressier. “No one wants to tote a complete change of accessories to the office so it’s best to have a work wardrobe that translates seamlessly into cocktail attire” according to Nina Miner, Chief Creative Officer of Nina. Her answer to that conundrum? “ When you want comfort at the office, but also want it to look like you put in a little effort when socializing at happy hour – the answer is pretty simple – chic but comfortable day-to-night shoes. Kitten heels are huge again for the spring season and the perfect addition for a woman’s work wardrobe.” Miner also suggests keeping a seasonally appropriate metallic clutch in your work tote “and your look is transformed from daytime office to off-duty professional.”
  • Re-think your wardrobe beyond seasons: “As you grow in your career, you may find yourself reconsidering your wardrobe,” Dvorett said. “As I transitioned from more corporate offices of established fashion brands to a startup environment my daily uniform of black and navy blazers no longer felt appropriate.” Dvorett now wears colorful, trendy pieces and has a lot more fun with what she wears with the same clothing budget. For women in creative careers, Valiente says you can “dive into a suit with ankle length pants in a color like pink, red or baby blue.”

Don’t worry about screwing up. Dvorett says “There is such variation in workplace dress codes today that it is difficult to define a universal look. However, looking well put together in well-fitting clothing and likely clothing that is a bit more polished than the day-to-day dress code is still recommended.”

Can’t afford a full spring makeover? Here are some ways to look up to date without breaking the bank:

Go for the separates: “I find a great pair of jeans to be essential, and most work dress codes allow jeans these days” said Melissa R. Birge, Founder and CEO of Mia Tango. “Grab a pair you love and find three tops to wear with them for some versatile office looks.” And while you’re at it “think about how you can wear the tops for different occasions.”

Accessorize: You can pretty much rework anything from seasons past if you add on-trend accessories. If you have to pick only one item to splurge on this season, “For both men and women, it’s an investment bag or briefcase,” says Karen Giberson, President of the Accessories Council. “It’s the piece you will use the most and it makes a solid first impression.” And don’t worry, Giberson says “It doesn’t have to be expensive (but it could be!) it should be functional, stylish and organized. If one works in a more casual environment, even a little sporty or trendy works.” On a dollars per use basis—this is the place where you’ll get the most return on fashion investment.

Sneaky updates:

  • You can update old shoes with these brilliant shoe add-ons by Shoe Candy
  • Make an old t-shirt look brand new with Necklettes which attach through the clever use of magnets
  • Customize your bag or briefcase so it’s one of a kind and a conversation starter
  • Update last spring’s suit with these amazing lapel pins/flowers by Laudi Vidni

* I went for the cheesy rhyme. Forgive me, it (probably) won’t happen again.

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.