Adding fall fashion trends into your work wardrobe. Autumn will soon be here in all its Colorado glory! The aspens will turn goldenrod, the air will turn cool, the elk will start bugling, and soon the rain will turn to snow. It’s a beautiful time of year, and a change in attire feels just right. I remember growing up in Texas and waiting for “football season,” as we called it. Only for possibly three months of the year did you need a sweater down south. (Texas ladies bring out the fur coats when it drops below 50°.) It was so exhilarating to put on a sweater, a pair of corduroy pants and some boots. I never owned a winter coat until I briefly, and I do mean briefly, moved to Minnesota. Fall fashion has always been the most exciting fashion to wear. It requires a bigger investment, and yet the pieces last much longer than spring and summer fashions. The fabrics are tougher and richer and full of texture.
This year is no exception.
Before we talk about this year’s trends, let’s recap what investment dressing means and how very important it is to present a professional presence through your attire. Investment dressing is about building a work wardrobe with your hard-earned money that not only exemplifies your personal style but also gets you noticed in the right way at the office. By adding a clothing allowance into your monthly budget, you continually modernize your appearance and never strap your financial resources.
Here are a few tips to remember before you go shopping:
• Put together a simple clothing budget, perhaps $5 a day or $150 a month, and stick to it. When out in the stores, earmark pieces that fit into your workplace collection. Give them a number from one to five, five being a perfect fit. If they are ideal, then pay full price for them. If not, then wait for them to go on sale.
• Choose two neutral colors and one statement color for the foundation of your wardrobe — such as camel, chocolate and ivory; charcoal, black and white; navy, white and red — and build upon these colors year after year.
• Never buy any clothing or accessories unless you have two things to wear with it them.
• Don’t impulse shop.
• Spend 80 percent of your money on “hard pieces,” such as suits. Spend 20 percent of your money on trends.
• When buying trends, opt for less expensive pieces, such as a scarf, belt or updated leg wear. Buy a leopard print belt, not a leopard print suit.
• Just because it is in style does not mean that you should own it. For example, I am 6 feet tall with a 36-inch inseam. If I wore a stylish cropped jacket and a pair of fashionable pinstriped slacks, can you imagine how out of proportion I would look? Sort of like the stilt-walker at the circus!
Stick to your own personal style regardless of what’s trendy for the coming season.
Now let’s discuss your responsibilities to your employer. If your company has a dress code, it is your duty to adhere to it. Look around your office. What do the managers and executives wear to work? If you’re in a service industry such as banking or mortgage lending, a brokerage or an accounting or law firm, chances are you’ll see suits and ties. Assuming that your career goal is to advance, wouldn’t it make sense to emulate those in charge? I doubt very seriously that the bank president is wearing a bare midriff and flip-flops, even on Casual Friday. If you work for a less conservative corporation, such as a snowboard manufacturer, coffee bar, trendy retailer or search engine, you may not even have a dress code. However, if your goal is still advancement, it is very important that you dress one step above the rest of the employees and even your clients. It gives you an air of authority and respect and still enables you to relate to those around you. So what should you remember when dressing in the workplace? Here are some guidelines for presenting a professional image at the office regardless of the type of industry in which you work:
• Avoid low-cut blouses. Simple necklines such as shirt collars, scoop, crew or boat necks are a better choice. Cleavage has never been the best way to get noticed at headquarters.
• Steer clear of clingy fabrics such as stretch polyester.
• Always be cognizant of proper undergarments. Look in the mirror before you leave the house each morning, and be sure that nothing is outlined that shouldn’t be.
• Unfussy pumps are best with a skirted suit. Be certain they have a back-strap, as opposed to a mule or slide, so that they don’t clip-clop across the floor when you walk.
• Match your hosiery shade with the color of your hemline and shoe. This will give a longer, slimmer line to your body.
• Don’t overdo accessories. Wear one statement piece at a time.
Thus far we’ve talked about what a professional presence in the office can mean to your career, shopping tips for your work wardrobe, the importance of adhering to your company’s dress code and guidelines for presenting a professional image in the workplace. What are the fashion trends for fall, and how do we add them into our daytime mix? Fall fashion is very rich and sophisticated this season. After studying fashion history for so many years, it’s interesting to me that in economic downturns colors grow dark and hemlines grow long. The good news is that designers have added bright shots of color and flamboyant embellishments to their collections this year. It seems there must be an upswing in our future.
• ‘80s REVIVAL! While some looks from that era need to be locked away, there are a few that can be wearable. Velvet bustiers shouldn’t make it to the office floor, but neon brights might be fun to wear as an accessory at work.
• THE COCOON COAT! Big, enveloping outerwear with cowl necks or shawl collars. Sleek camel hair or worsted wool worn over dresses or blanket-print and textured worn with leggings and tunics.
• DARK AND SOPHISTICATED! All shades of gray from dove to charcoal, layered with black. Tailored jackets worn with knit dresses or wide-belted A-line wool dresses. Wear it all with black opaque tights, knitted caps and jet jewelry.
• THE BOLD SHOULDER! Shoulder pads are back in style. Strong shoulder designs will crisply tailor both jackets and dresses this season.
• PLAID, HOUNDSTOOTH AND CHECKS! Tailored and refined in suits or pea coats and bold lumberjack plaid for weekend wear.
• PINK AND CHARTREUSE! Pink continues to shine for fall. In hues from salmon to magenta, bold shots of color get turned up a notch into neon brights. Chartreuse shakes up a somber season. Wear it with black for a very chic look.
• FUR, SPARKLE AND RUSSIAN FOLKLORIC TRIM! There’s always real fur, but you can also go faux. A bit of trim around a sweater or a fun and funky colored stole for the weekend. Sparkle isn’t just for evening anymore. Pair a softly shimmering turtleneck with gray flannel slacks. Bohemian for spring, Russian folkloric for fall. Rich saturated colors like amethyst, ruby, gold and black, embellished with charms, tassels and pearls.
• HATS, GLOVES AND BOOTS! Pillbox, fur, fedora or cap, top off your outfit with the accessory of the season. Wear gloves of all lengths and colors. Boots are the footwear of fall — ankle boots, to-the-knee, over-the-knee and thigh-high were all seen on the runway this year.
• STUNNING NECKLACES AND CUFF BRACELETS! Wear one item at a time. A change of accessories freshens your look instantly.
• SASSY PARTY ATTIRE! One-shoulder designs and sexy cut-outs. Accordion-pleat necklines and lots of draping. Short velvet and strapless ruffled cocktail dresses.
When you stick to a budget, adding fall trends into your work wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive. Buying enduring fashion 80 percent of the time, selecting seasonal trends that mix with what you already own and remembering to always reflect your personal style give you an exciting and up-to-the-minute collection to choose from every morning. So have fun with your clothing and shop wisely. I hope you are looking forward to football weather as much as I am!
Written by LISA DUNCAN
Photography by KIMBERLY DAWN
Lisa Duncan teaches individuals and corporate clients workplace dressing, retail merchandising secrets and the lost art of customer service. She can be reached at www.lisaduncan.com.