This post was inspired by an article in the November issue of InStyle Magazine: “5 Ways to Wake Up your Work Wardrobe” (p. 186). I was nodding all the way through the article and found I could tie their points back to previous posts on YLF. So if you’re bored with your work wardrobe, here are 10 ways to spice things up. The first five are InStyle’s points with my take on them, and the last 5 are my additions. 

  1. Add Colour: Pick a work appropriate separate and wear that in a colour with a neutral support act. If you dare, wear colour from head to toe. Or, throw in coloured accessories like shoes, scarf, belt and bag. This classic outfit builder illustrates how colour is mixed with neutrals in a work wear ensemble. The more on trend outfit builder incorporates colourful accessories. 
  2. Add Sparkle: As InStyle puts it “Shine needn’t be sequestered to the evenings“. I like daytime sparkle in tops, sweaters, jackets, skirts and footwear. Although it isn’t a rule, I prefer daytime sparkle in neutrals other than black because black sparkle tends to look more “evening” to my eye. Tone down the sparkle with tweeds, denim, silk and wool separates. 
  3. Add touches of Lace: We addressed whether lace was appropriate at the office and I voted yay if the execution is modest and neutral. Lace trimmed camisoles and blouses are great, and lace shell tops are excellent layering pieces. Dress down a lace skirt with a sweater. 
  4. Mix in Prints: If you are print-adverse, bring them in slowly and in subtle ways. Stick to low contrast neutral designs that are quiet instead of loud. Wear a patterned scarf if a separate or dress is too much. Mix animal print shoes and belts with solids. 
  5. Incorporate Leather: The right leather jacket makes a nice change to a wool blazer. By all means wear a leather skirt with soft professional separates
  6. Mix Patterns: Start by mixing plaid, pinstripe and tweed bottoms with printed tops. If you like this aesthetic, you can go to town with the combinations. Refresh your memory with this beginners guide to pattern mixing.
  7. Try New Trouser Silhouettes: This has been my favourite way to change up my own business casual vibe this year. We saw client Christie model her tapered trouser looks a few months ago, and now she’s hooked. It’s a trouser season ladies, and there is so much to explore in the silhouette. Think extra flared, or tapered, and look for those design details that tickle your fancy. Think high waisted and pleated if you dare. 
  8. Wear dresses and skirts: This is old hat for some, but for those who are still uncomfortable wearing skirts and dresses to work, I’d love to encourage the change. Client Bei-Jing, who holds a senior position in a male dominated tech industry, wears skirts and dresses to work two to three times a week. 
  9. Swap out pumps for booties and oxfords: Pumps are great for work and always look professional. But booties and heeled oxfords add an on trend bit of magic to an outfit, especially if you pair them with skirts and dresses. They are also much easier to fit than tall boots. If there is one thing to add to your Fall or Winter work wardrobe, let it be booties or heeled oxfords. 
  10. Throw in fun hosiery: Black opaques are not your only option. Consider textured neutral hose and choose small subtle patterns. If you work in a creative environment, experiment with all sorts of hosiery. The assortment improves each year. 

So far this season, my business casual clients have been especially excited about new trouser silhouettes, daytime sparkle, pattern mixing, booties and leather skirts or jackets. Do these ideas resonate with your work wardrobe? Please feel free to add to the list.