What Not to Wear: Office Edition

It’s tricky business, that office dress code. Between a client-filled Outlook calendar to the arctic-like blasts of the office A/C that’s the bane of summer bare legs, the 9-to-5 wardrobe is a minefield of confusion for any girl trying to stiletto her way to success.

Enter Jenny Applegate and Wendy Christopher.  As stylists for Stacy London’s Style for Hire, they brought their expertise to a recent JS ladies gathering. We work in a style-conscious industry, and you know what they say about how many times you can make that first impression: uno.

With plates of chicken salad and fruit teetering in our laps, we paid rapt attention to Jenny and Wendy. We even learned a thing or two …

The Big Four

They’re enough to merit a closet door sticky note: “The four components of every outfit are color, texture, pattern and shine,” Jenny said.

Season these four essentials into all your wear-to-work outfits for a winning look.

Tips for Fit
“People think of clothing as disposable,” said Jenny. “It’s not!”

What a relief! You don’t have to keep up with the January Joneses – you just need to nail your outfit with these tips:

  • The eternal goal is a long, lean, hourglass figure, which about 8 percent of women possess. Yet almost all clothes are cut for this silhouette. So, next time you’re frustrated in a dressing room, give yourself a break and remember that ridiculous statistic. You’re in the good company of 92 percent of normal-shaped women.
  • To create an illusion, add a belt, which is most flattering in a 1 ¼” width at the narrowest part of your waist.
  • We’re like moths to the flame flipping through the J. Crew catalogue, seeking out bright colors. According to Jenny and Wendy, first hone in on fit, then fabric and then find a color or pattern you like. And remember, prints should be proportional to your body (i.e. large, splashy flower prints work for the tall set.)
  • Clothing should fit the widest part of your body. If a garment fits the widest portion, you can tailor the rest. A body-skimming fit is just right.
  • Take stores like The Limited up on offers for free tailoring.
  • If the dress pants fit, buy two pairs in two different colors.
  • Blazer sleeves should hit at the top of your thumb. If you can’t button a blazer across your chest, it’s too small.

How to Clean Out Your Closet

  • Step one: If it is torn, stained or missing buttons, consider repair. If healing is not in the cards, toss it.
  • Step two: Host a dress-up party and make two piles named “It Fits” and “It Goes to the Tailor.”
  • Step three: Examine style. If you’ll wear it more than once, it stays!

Nine Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Should Own

Here’s your checklist, ladies. Take inventory and fill in the gaps.

  • Pencil skirt
  • Black or grey trousers
  • Denim trouser pants (a little nicer for Casual Friday than skinnies, if you can make the switch)
  • Black sheath dress
  • Classic black pumps
  • Skinny belt (“Here’s where you bring in a pop of color,” Jenny said.)
  • Fitted blazer
  • Trench coat
  • Great bag

Seven Deadly Fashion Sins

We’re guilty as charged, but redemption is in sight. Leave the following out of your work wardrobe to show you mean business:

  • Too-casual sandals: Summertime sandals should cover 50 percent of your foot.
  • Lint: They make a roller for that.
  • Wrinkles: Iron and steam. Jenny’s a fan of Rowenta steamers, which fit in your car.
  • Stains: Never, never, never.
  • Overspending: “Cost doesn’t matter,” our stylists said.
  • Underdressing: New on the job? Follow leadership for wardrobe cues.
  • Suntan hose: “Throw them out,” Wendy said.

Jenny’s and Wendy’s tips will keep us on our well-heeled toes around Midtown and beyond. Master these basic tips, and then think outside the cubicle and dress to the nines.