October 6, 2010




One of  my best friends, Lisa, asked me to write a post on women's work fashion. She, like so many of us, falls into that polyester and cotton, pinstriped abyss that leaves very little room for creativity. I'm here to tell Lisa and working women everywhere, it doesn't have to be this way. It's time to say, no more.

Boring Women's Suit-- Fashion DON'T

Before I was a fashion stylist, I was a contract lobbyist representing some of the biggest companies and associations in the state. Running to meetings in stockings and pumps and hoping to persuade or dissuade legislators to/from vot(ing) a certain way. There were many days where my fashion creative (I did, after all, get best dressed lobbyist in a Capitol publication one year) wanted to take my ho-hum business wardrobe to task, but looking professional was always tantamount to my desire to meet whatever glamorous fashion standards I had set in my head. Certainly Senator So-and-So would appreciate my black lace stockings as I presented my case in Committee, right? Right and yet, SO not right, if you know what I mean. As women, there are so many issues we must deal with when it comes to how we dress in our professional life. We want to portray strength, intelligence, power and value and still look like, well, women. I'm here to tell you that no glass ceiling, social or professional boundary should keep you from being who you want to be and dressing the way you want to dress... within reason, of course.

Depending on the industry you work in, there is tremendous flexibility. Let's start with the more traditional business setting. If you work in an office and the majority of your colleagues are in suits (men and women), I would strongly recommend you stick to a "suit." I put suit in quotations because a suit can mean various things. The traditional suit can be tres chic and beautiful (add this season's tie for women!) so don't rule it out. That being said, mixing and matching is key if you want to look different and not be wearing the same monochromatic "outfit" everyday. One does not need to coordinate from head to toe. Mixing in different materials and colors, shapes and textures will add depth and intrigue to your look. Add pop with a brightly colored shoe, an amazing handbag or a stand-out, textured skirt. Buying staple pieces that can be worn in a myriad of ways, will allow you to stretch your dollar.

Three-Piece Women's Suit, Express (blazer, vest and skirt) and Milly (top)

JCrew Blazer, $238;  Graham & Spencer Blouse, $242; Paul Smith Black Label Skirt, $410
Liz Claiborne (high-waisted skirt and jacket), Ports 1961(top)

A strong belted jacket like the one below, can tie any look together. Try this piece with a camisole or a blouse paired with a skirt or a wide legged pant. Throw in a colorful scarf tied high around your neck and you are all set. If you want a more feminine look, try a tailored dress. You can always add tights (steer clear of panty hose - they are so yesterday) or a knee high stocking (or go bare) and a tailored jacket.

BCBG Ruffled Blouse Dress, $198
The Limited Leopard Print 2 in 1 Dress, $89.90
For those in a less conservative professional setting, have a little fun with your wardrobe. Try out some of the trendier looks right now.  Layer with a soft cashmere vest, roll up your slacks and throw on some killer wedges/pumps or a studded bootie, play around with proportions and lengths, maybe even add a hat and some bangles. There are so many possibilities when your office does not require a suit. Don't limit yourself.

Banana Republic


GUCCI Runway
Working women everywhere need to unite in the fight against business fashion barriers. Who says we can't show our professional prowess in more than one way. Next time you go to work, strut into your office with a sense of your own brilliance... both mentally and stylistically.

- sister


  1. LOVE all of the great ideas!

  2. Digging the camel jacket. Nice article.