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The dress code of the corporate world is pretty tight. Without any effort everyone looks the same. Or like in a uniform. Cookie cutter style. Read how you can meet the dress code expectations and achieve non boring corporate style.

    1. Gray plus navy are a classic corporate world color combination
    2. Work the loop wholes of your work dress code
      • Shake it up with interesting pumps
      • Sheer pantyhose vs. opaque vs. pattern
      • Express your personal style with scarves or jewelry
    3. Exchange the belts for different/better looks
    4. Express your personal style with your coats
    5. Work outfit inspiration photos

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

Gray plus navy are a classic corporate world color combination

In the corporate world, there is not much wiggle room for experimenting with fashion and style. A classic go-to corporate style is the gray pencil skirt with navy blue blazer. Skirt and pantsuits in neutral colors come to mind and are appropriate with tops in light or muted colors. Try a black and white look.

Don’t wear your suits only as suits. Separate the pieces in your closet and wear the jacket as blazer with other pants or skirts and vice versa. Embrace the fake or unmatched suit idea for more options and looks from what you own. Also learn how to wear a suit and not look old.

The limitations on the clothing don’t mean you have to wear a uniform, look like your colleague aka wear cookie cutter style, sort of. First, you can wear all neutrals without looking boring. Second, you can be creative on how you wear and style your work outfit. Sure, you have to stay within the tight rules of the HR approved dress code. Here is how to have chic promotion worthy corporate style.


Work the loop wholes of your work dress code

Read the HR approved work dress code closely. There are usually no codes on accessories. There may be some rules on your footwear like “no open toes” or no heels higher than XYZ inches; also on the sleeve length, cleavage, dress/skirt length, legwear.

Shake it up with interesting pumps

When there are no restrictions on footwear, have fun with your shoes like shown here with the multi-color metal kitten heel pumps. They are a head turner, but do not break the corporate look as metals are neutrals and the style of the pumps is a classic. The heel can’t be interpreted as “sexy” and these pumps qualify for “no open toes.”

style blogger Nicole presenting a stylish, non-boring corporate work outfit
Summer outfit details: gray pencil skirt, Oliveo chambray shirt, multiple pearl necklaces, mixed metallic pumps. Add pantyhose, if the dress code requires them.


Sheer pantyhose vs. opaque vs. pattern

In the corporate world, most dress codes ask for legwear. When there is no specification like nude pantyhose or sheer legwear wearing opaque tights in the color of your skirt or dress is a  great option in winter. A big advantage of doing so is that shoes, tights and skirt in the same color give the illusion of height and being slim. The first helps with being taken seriously, the second is associated with being healthy. Both associations are helpful for your career. especially when you are over 40 and have to compete with the twenty somethings.

Also  work the options of sheer pantyhose in the shade of your clothes. What about sheer pantyhose with little  woven-in dots? Opaque tights with small print pin dots or knit-pattern are also great options how to wear the patterned tights trend.

Always stay away from lace tights and black fishnet! They work for date night and not for the office except jobs in the creative field or bars.  In a casual work environment, you may get away with nude fishnets.

Stylist’s tip: When wearing pantyhose always have an extra pair in your work bag. Runners are never in style.

Express your personal style with scarves or jewelry

Another great way to keep your work outfits interesting is  to up your style with scarves. Curate a scarf collection. The choice of the scarf or  the way you wear the scarf (compare photos above) provides variations of the corporate look. There are many ways not to get into a style rut or feel like wearing a uniform.

Necklaces, brooches, watches and earrings are also great ways to mix things up. What about a big brooch on the collar instead of a necklace? Or a brooch to hold a scarf? Brooches immediately change a good look to awesome.

Pearls are always appropriate. - Jackie Kennedy #fashionquote Click To Tweet

Avoid earrings that cause continuous noise when you have to be on the phone often. You can find which earrings are best to wear when and where in the post at the link.

Get a unique watch collection. Yes, you check the time on the phone like every other gal, but a watch conveys the message that you take time seriously. In contrast to bangles and bracelets, a watch looks very professional.

Express your personal style with accessories. #officestyle Click To Tweet

Exchange the belts for different/better looks

A lot of work dresses, pants and skirts come with a (plastic) belt. Always toss cheap plastic belts. Cheap belts just make you look cheap as well. When the clothing comes with a belt and buckle in the fabric of the item, it doesn’t mean that you always have to wear the item with that matching belt. It’s one option, but you have much more options when you wearing the piece with other belts from your closet once in a while. See this ultimate guide on how to best accessorize with belts.

The photos below show examples of the same dress with different belts, footwear and outerwear.

woman in purple gray corporate style dress with light yellow pink coat, sunflower yellow bag and neon yellow pumps GAP shirt dress, Hermes collier de chien belt, Banana Republic coat, Longchamp pliage, Christian Louboutin neon yellow pumps, pantyhose, and Winkwood sunglasses (all own)
blogger in silver leather coat over shirtdress with belt Cami silver leather trench coat, Gap shirtdress, pantyhose, statement gemstone belt, Miu Miu heels, Modalo Pippa bag (all own), and cropped shirt c/o Halftee

Express your personal style with your coats

Unless your outerwear is part of your work wear, you can go wild with your personal style here. But don’t go over board. Your colleagues and boss may be in the elevator with you. See this post on how to create an awesome coat wardrobe.

Never let the right outfit be an accident. Look up what to wear when and where in my style book How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy it now.

Work outfit inspiration photos

Here are some office outfit ideas that are easy to re-create with pieces from your closet.

professional outfit with A-line skirt, blazer, cashmere sweaterUnmatched suit: Ann Taylor blazer, GNW sweater, Burberry skirt, opera-length pearl necklace, Ivanka Trump pumps and structured bag (all own)style book author in fitted dress with blazer summer office outfit Oliveo fake suede blazer, Louis Vuitton scarf, Kate Moss for Longchamp bag and Michael Kors heels (all own) and fitted dress c/o Lookbook Store

mature woman in LBD with glen check blazer and statement belt, zebra pumps Fun pumps: Tahari glen check blazer, Nine zebra print pumps, statement briefcase, DIY necklace, statement belt (all own), and LBD c/o Covered Perfectly

#workstyle fashion blogger in sheath, cardigan, high heel boots, tights and lots of necklaces Tights in color of dress: Calvin Klein sheath dress, Sofia cashmere cardigan, GNW tights, Vince Camuto suede high heel boots with chains, Hermes collier de chien bangle, multiple strings of pearls (all own) and Akoya saltwater pearls c/o The Pearl Source Inc.

Style blogger in above the knee fitted sleek belted dress and heels Statement pumps: Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, pantyhose, Aldo leopard print pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle, bangle from my late mom, and Kasper coat dress (all own)stylist in sheath dress, plaid blazer and belt work look Euro Chic: Burberry plaid blazer, Kieselstein Cord belt, Anne Klein pumps, pantyhose (all own) and winter white V-neck dress c/o Lookbook Store

style blogger in fake suit with pop of teal pumps and top Fake suit: Pants c/o White House Black Market, own Tahari blazer, snake tail buckle belt, Hermes collier de chien, structured tote, Salvatore Ferragamo pumps (all own), and top c/o Chico’s

midlife woman white pants, black and white blazer office attire Black and white: GNW zebra top, hounds tooth blazer, Newport News pants, Paloma Picasso belt, 3.1 Philip Lim tote, vintage brooch, and Ivanka Trump cap-toe pumps that pick up the colors of the look (all own)

Like these corporate outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board so your friends and colleagues can see them too.

Do you work in the corporate world? How do you shake things up to express your own style? What are your work outfit challenges? Let me know, so I can help you.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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