By, Emily Jacobson
Dressing for success in 2010 can be confusing. How do you combine casual with professional and still look like a woman — without looking like a tart? While business fashions have a more relaxed look, the old rules still apply: keep it simple, classy, and tasteful.
Shop for basic pieces to mix and match. Jeans and khakis should be crisp, tailored, and neat. Stick with navy, black, beige, or forest green. Save bleached and ripped jeans for weekends. Tanks in a variety of colors topped with cardigans or blazers are great for work. Avoid anything that shows cleavage or displays skimpy straps. Add a few skirts for variety. A style like the Lace Up Floral from Victoria’s Secret is feminine, not too short, and when paired with a tank and solid-colored blazer, it also looks professional.
Tailored shirts in black or white always add panache to casual pants and can be worn with or without a vest, blazer, or cardigan. They also work well over tanks, especially when pulled together with a belt. Longer cardigans in neutral colors like the Cotton and Cashmere, also from Victoria’s, can be worn over tops with skirts or pants.
Substitute work appropriate sandals for flip flops as long as they keep a low profile, and you have a fresh pedicure. Avoid gladiator or flashy jeweled sandals. Wedgie sandals are hot this summer if you want extra height. Simple colored ballet flats can add a splash of color to a neutral outfit, and they’re comfy to boot.
Jewelry, in moderation, can take any business casual style to another level. Tasteful and understated gold or beaded necklaces, simple stud earrings, and silver cuffs add pizazz to relaxed outfits and tell the world you’ve put thought into your look. A good watch is an essential business accessory. Leave the fun timepieces for off hours and invest in something like the DKNY watch from Macy’s. It’s something you can wear for work every day. It also tells the world you’re successful and you mean business!
Splurge on a stylish work bag that goes with everything and makes a positive statement about you. The bag should be large enough to carry all your goodies without looking stuffed. A bit of hardware, like that featured on the new Sylvie Box Bag from Guess can jazz up your professional image considerably. To look prosperous while going for your credit cards, a rich-looking leather wallet speaks volumes.
The finishing touch to any business look is a blazer. Blazers take even the most casual outfits to a professional level. A few basic blazers like the Literature, Hinge, and Free People, all from Nordstrom, offer three ways to look casual, professional, and unmistakably feminine.
Emily Jacobson is an online shopping specialist and a freelance writer.