by Elizabeth Denton
Whether you work in a corporate environment or a more casual setting, you can’t be blamed for wanting to feel like yourself when you show up to your 9-to-5 (after all, you likely spend most of your time there!). But balancing those touches that make you feel like you and an HR-imposed dress code can be more than tricky. That said, it is totally possible to have a wardrobe of professional outfits that are anything but boring. It just takes a few key items and some pops of color to make a stuffy suit more uniquely you. And remember, no matter what you’re wearing, you’re still you at the end of the day — suit, scrubs, uniform or otherwise. Great clothes are just an added bonus. Because what’s chicer than being yourself?
Focus on Accessories
Maybe you have to wear head-to-toe black per the HR department. Or maybe most people in your office wear suits and you want to fit in. You can totally still show off your personal style by adding a few accessories. Switch out basic hoops for rectangle earrings or try a lariat necklace that resembles one of those trendy layered styles. Delicate wraparound bracelets are also a subtle way to add personality.
Try a Jumpsuit
Anyone can wear a blouse and pants, but a jumpsuit is a stylish way to get a similar look with a bit more flair. Have after-dinner drinks with the girls or an exciting date? A wide-leg jumpsuit can be easily dressed up with a fresh pair of heels or booties but still look professional at work. For a more casual environment, a plaid jumpsuit looks chic worn alone or with a sweater under it to stay cozy in a frigid office.
Add a Pop of Color
If classic work outfits make you feel on your A-game, incorporate a simple style in a not-so-simple color. It’s an easy way to bring in some uniqueness without violating any dress codes. A neon pleated skirt brightens up literally any outfit and looks especially great with neutrals. A mustard-colored blouse under a suit jacket looks gorgeous on women of all shapes and sizes.
Incorporate Trends in Dark or Neutral Colors
Just like a pop of color can boost a more classic outfit, a trendy style in a simple hue can make you look ultrastylish without seeming like you’re trying too hard. It seems like everyone is wearing square-neck tops right now, but most feel more weekend ready than work appropriate. An emerald-green satin square-neck bodysuit, though, looks polished from day to night without being too bold. You can even add in a print or two. Take this asymmetrical ruffle dress as the star example. In subtle leopard, it looks less trend focused and more casually chic.
Pair a Colorful Skirt with a Simple Top
Animal print, bright yellow, metallic, midi, maxi—any skirt pairs perfectly with a black or white sweater. Plus, it makes getting ready for work in the morning a breeze. No one will know you’re wearing the same top more than once a week. They’ll just be checking out your gorgeous skirt and wondering where you bought it. Spill your secrets or keep them to yourself—we’ll never tell.
Even if you slay an entire week’s worth of chic work-ready outfits, remember that you will always shine brighter than your clothes — so rock whatever you’re wearing with confidence. Because there’s power in knowing (and championing) who you are that no HR-madnated dress code will ever take away.
Elizabeth Denton is a Los Angeles-based writer and brand consultant.