The “It” Business Dress

What makes a dress professional enough to be the “it” business dress?  How do you find it?  I’m so so thrilled to introduce today’s guest poster, my friend Yuli Ziv.  Not only is she the founder of Style Coalition (a network of fashion bloggers that includes Corporette) but she negotiated the deal between Elle and SC to create the ad network that Corporette uses.  Neither of these is her first entrepreneurial undertaking — she also received angel funding to create the first crowd-sourced fashion blog, My It Things.  Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, she also recently published a book: Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row.  She’s a huge source of inspiration to me, and she has some wicked advice on the perfect business dress — so enjoy! – Kat

During the first few years as an entrepreneur I tried so hard to fit in the male dominated environment. Whether it was a meeting with a VC or a tech industry networking event – pant suits were my safe choice, decorated only with some jewelry at the most. I wanted to be taken seriously so badly, I chose to forgo my own personality and style – ouch! Luckily, pretty quickly I realized this strategy lead me nowhere – the problem wasn’t my clothes. I was, in fact very different from these people, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stylishly shining in a room of gray suits is a huge advantage that at some point I learned to use to my benefits. (You can get a similar dress to Yuli’s at DKNY (Three Quarter Sleeve V-Neck Wrap Dress) for $325.)

This is when I discovered the fashionable business dresses, and since then I collected quite a few. It took some trial and error to find not only what’s appropriate and works for my figure, but also what makes me feel confident. These days I’m often invited to speak in public (last time was in front of 1,000 people at Lincoln Center in NYC), and I find the right dress helps me present myself in a confident way.

So what makes a dress an appropriate business dress? A garment that makes you feel stylish, professional, confident, beautiful and smart is hard to find. I developed my own set of rules that guides me through that process:

Fit. A business dress has to fit you impeccably. There is no room for too tight or too loose, it has to be right. You can’t just slap a belt on it and hope it will fix the fit problem. It has to hug the body in a proper way, and have a room (1-2 inches) to breathe – this will avoid any undergarment from showing. I also find defining waist helps to create a more structured, well put together look.

Color. No matter how progressive your work place is, a light pink business dress doesn’t project much power. It has something to do with the colors and our perception or the meaning we apply to it. Primary colors project confidence and look sharp on anyone, so stick to them when choosing a business dress. Patterns should be used in moderation. While they definitely add a sense of individuality, remember that they might distract your opponent in a business meeting.

Fabric. I think fabric is the most crucial part of the proper business dress. It has to have a certain thickness to it to avoid few potential problems, such as sheerness, showing undergarments or simply your body imperfections. Thick fabric also doesn’t wrinkle easily, and there is nothing that ruins the professional image more than wrinkled clothes. So even if you have been sitting at that boardroom for 5 hours, a thick fabric won’t catch the wrinkles.

Calvin Klein Dress, Cap Sleeve Belted Metallic Shirtdress Sheath

(Above: Here’s one great example of a perfect business dress — Calvin Klein Dress, Cap Sleeve Belted Metallic Shirtdress Sheath, available at Macy’s for $83 (was $128).)

Texture. Besides being thick and properly fitted, I find the texture of the dress being very important to project quality and sophistication. Is there a shine to it? Or perhaps it’s made of a soft wool blend? Perhaps there is a subtle pattern which is part of the fabric itself? The material is sometimes all it takes to make a dress stand out.

Underlining. All of the fit and fabric issues could be solved in most cases with the proper underlining. It also prevents the dress from stretching too much, and keeps it in the original shape. I find it disappointing when a nice dress isn’t lined properly. It seems some designers and especially budget retailers tend to skip that step these days, so watch out not only for the outside, but for the inside of the dress.

Coverage. Needless to say a business dress has to cover much more than an evening dress. Depending on the industry, you can show off legs or bare arms. My personal favorite is just above the knee length and cap sleeve. I find it most flattering and providing just the right coverage.

Details. While there are plenty of options for the basic business dresses, I find every dress needs to have something special about it in order to showcase your individuality and style. Whether it’s draping, pockets or other embellishment – look for sophisticated details in every piece.

What are your rules when it comes to business dresses and which one is your favorite?

(L-4)

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Comments

  1. Corporate Tool :

    I agree with all of the above (I’m wearing a navy sheath myself today), but I’d add another point to fit: length. Dresses, even more than skirts, ride up when you sit down/move/walk. Check the dress from all angles, including seated, to make sure it fits appropriately.

  2. SF Bay Associate :

    I love business dresses, but am not very skilled at finding them. Please tell us more about the “quite a few” business dresses you’ve collected over the years! What brands are your go-to?

    • I’ve found great business dresses at J. Crew and Nordstrom – my current favorite is a Suzy Chin for Maggie faux wrap dress. Super stylish, very flattering, comfortable(!), and very polished-looking. I also love DVF wrap dresses, which depending on the style and pattern, can be the perfect work dress.

      • The wrap dress is my go-to. I wear wrap dresses more than anything else because you can wear them with boots in the winter and sandals in the summer, and you can layer them over a tank and if you just toss leggings or capris and sandals in your bag, you can change for yoga or any other casual outing in a flash (and in a parking lot). And for mommys: unlike many business dresses – sheaths etc. – you can breastfeed easily in a wrap dress and few items go from pre-pregnancy through pregnancy, post-pregnancy and beyond as well as a wrap dress.

        I like my DVFs and recently found a new favorite from Boden. My favorite of all time is actually from Kenneth Cole REACTION because its washable and seemingly indestructible. I think I’ve worn it at least twice a month since I got it in 2007. I’ve heard good things about the Banana Republic wrap dresses, but I don’t have one. I think the key is thicker fabric.

        And for what it’s worth – every single one of mine is patterned. I think patterns are forgiving.

      • I am so jealous of those of you who can wear wrap dresses to work. I feel that wrap dresses are WAY too va-va-VOOM on my figure. I’m small (5’4″, 120) but feel that wrap dresses might be the sexiest thing I can put on…emphasizing your waist/hip ratio, etc., and thus, are not appropriate for the office.

        Am I doing something wrong?

        • Similar body composition, and I’m with you. I’d love to wear dresses for business, but feel that I look too much like I want the wrong kind of attention when I put them on, especially if they’re wrap or faux wrap. Hence date/going out/weekend only.

        • I agree with you! I have never felt “professional” in a wrap dress, much to my own chagrin. I think this type of dress looks great on other women, but it has never given me that confident, professional feeling. The one wrap dress that I own is more for after-work-hours events and it has a collar (it’s essentially a shirt dress that is also a wrap dress). I love dresses with collars and feel much more “pulled together” and less slinky/sexy in them.

        • Wrap dresses are supposed to emphasize your waist/hip ratio, more or less, so no, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just that in some offices, it’s perfectly ok to wear a somewhat form-fitting dress, and in other offices it’s probably not.

          Also, if you wear a wrap dress a little differently – with layers underneath, or on top, or with leggings, or choose one in a thicker fabric with a higher neck and looser sleeves – it may downplay the sexy factor.

        • In addition to your office environment, it’s probably also your (enviable!) body type. I imagine that the same wrap dress could look super va va voomy on scarlett johannsen but look perfectly appropriate on (a pre-pregnant) natalie Portman. As someone with a booty, I feel the same way about pencil skirts- love them on some people, but on me they just aren’t really work appropriate!

      • S in Chicago :

        The Suzi Chin one is my absolute favorite dress. I have it in navy and a magenta color (don’t remember the name). I go to a lot of conferences, and it’s perfect for dinners when you don’t want to wear a suit but aren’t sure how “evening” to dress. Very easy to dress up or down. It’s also great to stuff in carry-on luggage (super light and no wrinkling!) so you know that you’ll have something that will look professional on hand if they lose your suitcase.

    • Calvin Klein at Nordstrom. Just got an asymmetrical neckline dress there (very small sleeves so I usually wear a cardi or a blazer) but I get ridiculous compliments on it and it follows a lot of the above rules.

    • Ann Taylor makes a very good sheath dress – simple boat neck or scoop neck – in solid colors. If you’re lucky, you can scoop one up while it’s on sale. Just be sure you look at the fabric content.

    • My most recent find (and I’m now a fan): Elie Tahari.

    • Classiques Entier (Nordstrom), fwiw I’m a bit on the curvier side. Usually can find good sales in Nordstrom or on the Rack website.

    • In terms of reliable brands, for me it’s JCrew and Brooks Brothers. Currently wearing BB (“seersucker wool” dress on sale online right now. I can’t say enough good things about it and it looks 1000% better and more interesting in person).
      Sometimes I have had luck with Elie Tahari work (suiting) dress (the higher end line). Nordstrom has quite a few every year “made especially for” them, and I have found a couple at Nordstrom Rack, marked down to around $120.

    • I’ve always hankered for Rachel Roy’s work dresses, but they’re a bit out of my price range:

      http://www1.bloomingdales.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=556276&CategoryID=20312

    • I am wearing one today that is Adrianna Pappell from the Rack. Most of my favorite sheaths are Calvin Klein from Macys or Marshalls.

  3. Gyno Recs Appreciated :

    Any recs (or anti-recs) for a basic gyno in NYC? I am issue- and fetus-free, and not planning to get pregnant anytime soon. I just need to find a new gyno for my annual checkup since my current one is moving away.

    • Downtown Women OB-Gyn. (Google it.) I love them.

    • Innovative Healthcare Physicians in downtown NY, Dr. Wirth is awesome if you don’t mind having a male gynecologist. Plus they have (or did have – I moved out of state) great evening and weekend hours.

    • Sally Bowles :

      Valerie Lyon. I’ve sent loads of people to her, and they all love her as much as I do. She’s more of a GP, but does the gyno check-up stuff. Very patient, listens, and doesn’t make you feel rushed.

      Valerie Lyon, MD
      59 East 54th Street
      2nd Floor
      New York, NY 10022
      (212) 750-8330

      • Gyno Recs Appreciated :

        Thanks for the suggestions, all. For Fraulein Sally Bowles, could I go to Dr. Lyon as both my internist/GP and gyno? That would be very efficient….

        • Sally Bowles :

          Yes, definitely. One-stop shopping. I’ve been to more than my fair share of Manhattan doctors over the years, and I can’t recommend her highly enough.

      • I like Michelle Li on E 51st (all the way east). Similar deal – she’s a family doctor and also does my annual “women’s exam” and prescribes my birth control.

  4. What about dresses for larger busted women? Ladies, any suggestions? (And by larger busted I mean F/G/H)

    • Corporate Tool :

      I am an F, and Boden has been kind to my bust, J. Crew is sometimes, but not always, and Brooks Brothers, with a bit of tailoring is usually good as well.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m FF (hence the anon) and I love the dresses at http://www.carissarose.com I have all of their dresses – only 3 – and recently reviewed this one http://bit.ly/kVuCBy I just wish they would hurry up and make more! Great concept, fit & style, just not enough merchandise selection.

    • FFcup-anon :

      I’m FF (hence the anon) and I love the dresses at http://www.carissarose.com I have all of their dresses – only 3 – and recently reviewed this one http://bit.ly/kVuCBy I just wish they would hurry up and make more! Great concept, fit & style, just not enough merchandise selection.

    • Former 3L :

      J. Crew, occasionally; Banana Republic, more frequently (but only their fall stuff. Their spring stuff never works. So weird). Also, things made out of ponte knit or horrible stretchy all manmade fibers (usually in some kind of semi-slinky but still matte jersey) that would make Michael Pollan and Alice Waters cry–they tend to look good because they have enough stretch to let stuff fit, but are thick enough that you can’t really see it stretching, if you know what I mean.

    • I’m H – I like Tahari ASL and Ann Taylor the best. J Crew, Banana, and anything from Target are a completely lost cause.

    • As a former H (mastectomy this summer) I had good luck with Talbots.

  5. Sorry for the early threadjack.

    I am a recent law grad, awaiting Bar results. Yesterday I met with an alum of my dual-degree program who I worked with briefly during one of my summers who had started his own law practice. The guy had worked for a small firm for about a year and a half, and then worked for the consulting where we met for a month, and then started working on his own. This guy was loving life! He does mostly bankruptcy and small divorces and he stays pretty busy. He offered to let me shadow him and some of the attorneys he knows around to learn the ropes, and he was really trying to sell me on the going solo route. He loves because you get to make your own schedule, you do the kind of work you want to do, and you get to be your own boss (and he says that most of the work is really not that hard).

    I talked to my hubby last night and he thinks this is a great idea. My husband has a good job and we are paying all our bills on his salary, so we are fine right now as finances go. The only thing really standing between us and starting a family is me getting a job. So I’m thinking…take a few weeks/months to learn the ropes, start doing a little work for myself, maybe meet some attorneys in the process, I either get a job out of it or I start my own little practice. Sounds a lot better than doc review and mass mailing resumes!

    Does anyone have any experience with this route? This was not something that was even on my radar screen as a possibility until yesterday…

    Thanks!

    • I know nothing about this route, so I’m interested to read responses. Awesome that you have someone so willing to mentor you, though. I imagine many people wanting to go solo would kill for such an experience.

    • Anon in ATX :

      I followed this route more out of necessity than anything else. I was licensed in 2009 & could not find a job in a city with a smaller legal job market than other bigger cities in my state. My husband got a job offer there & it was our goal to move to this city so we took it & his salary was sufficient to sustain us @ least on a temp. basis.

      So basically I did this & it is a great way to decide whether this is something you can do or not. I figured out pretty early on that I did not want to practice on my own – I was doing criminal defense & the pay was not sufficient for the stress & anxiety my work was causing, although things like setting your own schedule was one of the best parts about it.

      So, long story short, the work definately sustained me & I felt like I was contributing while I continued looking & finally found a “real” job

      So I say go for it – you will learn quickly whether it is for you or not – if so – awesome & good for you; if not, you can continue doing it while still looking for another job

      good luck to you!

    • Are you an entrepreneur? You either are, or you aren’t. I know I am not, so I would never go solo. But here are some things to think about, which are not necessarily pros or cons, just considerations:

      – how will you get business? How will you market yourself? There is a lot of competition for work and it could take you years to get to be well-known. This may sound crass, but as a sole practitioner, you only get to eat what you kill. You might have to take low-income referrals from your law society for a while, just to get work, any work.
      – what are you willing and not willing to do in terms of practice area? How picky do you want to be?
      – is this guy willing to act as your mentor for the long term, or will he see you as a threat once you set up shop?
      – you will have overhead, even if you work out of a home office. You will need a business license, a computer and filing system, a photocopier, secure e-mail, access to resource texts, etc. You will also need to pay someone to do your bookkeeping. How will you fund this? Are you willing to go into debt for this, since you may not make a profit for at least a year?
      – you will need a network of people who can help you with areas of the law in which you don’t have experience. How will you build this network?

      Kudos to you if you decide to do this – I know it is not for me and frankly, I don’t have the guts. But think about all this tough stuff ahead of time!

    • I’m not saying don’t do it, but I am going to say that success is VERY personality-dependant, and I don’t think that it is right for my personality.

      My background was that I did very well in Law School and even landed a clerkship, but just couldn’t find a job afterwards. So, I won’t lie, there was a pretty big frustration/bitterness factor going in. Anyway, I didn’t work solo; I worked as an indep. contractor with a fellow who is solo (his personality sounds very similar to the guy you describe). Basically, we worked together on some things, I took some cases independently that he didn’t want, and I also sought out my own work taking appointments and helping out another solo who needed some research and writing done.

      On the whole, it just wasn’t enough work. I’ll add here that, while I’m pretty good at managing my time, I’m better when I have some sort of external pressure, like a list of things that need to be done today, so it was hard for me to work smartly with the little work that I had. I also hated the unpredictable (and often non-existent) money, and I hated trying to convince people that I would be able to help them when I wasn’t sure myself. I’m not a great procedure person (as in civil procedure), and really struggled with what to do when, and there wasn’t usually anyone to ask, which, again, was frustrating. Also, I just couldn’t bring in anywhere near the business needed to keep myself busy, and hated forcing myself to “network” when I’d rather just stay home.

      It was nice to set my own hours, as my husband works an unpredictable schedule, but it wasn’t helpful to my productivity.

      Anyway, again, a lot of people love it, and you may be in a better position if your husband is making enough that money’s not an issue (mine was making enough to get by, but not enough to make me feel OK). I would recommend checking out SoloSez through the ABA (google it), it’s a great resource/email listserve for solos and small firm attorneys (but a huge time suck!) Good luck to you!

      • Oh, I should add that, given my options at the time, I’m not sorry that I did it, even though there were a lot of tears. There simply were not any other options in my area. When I realized that it wasn’t working, I started looking again, and there still weren’t any options locally, and we wound up moving to a nearby town. Which I’m still kind of sad about, but I guess it was necessary. So one might interprete that to mean, weigh your own options, and try it out if you don’t have any good ones, but consider your personality and likes/dislikes when deciding whether or not you think it will work.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      A good guy friend of mine did it in the greater DC/Virginia area. He is basically doing small criminal law – DUI, domestics, etc. He loves it. It is not for me, however.

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        I should add, but neither is doc review. I moved to a smaller firm where I have a lot of independence but also people to fall back on when I need help.

  6. This is a great post. I wholeheartedly agree, esp. re: fabric, and it’s great to hear all these points so clearly articulated — it really helps me makes sense of why some dresses end up working for me and others just end up sitting in my closet, rarely seeing the fluorescent lights of my office (I’m looking at you, pattern jersey dresses).

  7. I have just started wearing business dresses regularly to the office. I love them! My go-to is the J. Crew origami sheath. Most Anthropologie sheaths have appropriate lengths, thicker fabric, and a touch of something “exciting”, be it a muted pattern or fun zipper.

    • I love Jcrew’s sheath dresses, but I find them to be about 1-2inches too short, and sadly the tall size just looks silly on me!
      I scour the local discount chains (loehmans, TJ Maxx, etc.) for Calvin Klein’s business dresses, they tend to fit perfectly and run around $60-$80 or so tops.

  8. Anonymous :

    I live in business dresses — they’re my favorite things to put on in the morning! I visit TJ Maxx and Nordstrom rack a lot to find them — I’ve had great luck with Tahiri, Calvin Klein, and Jones New York.

  9. Anon in ATX :

    I have a dress almost identical to the CK one pictured above & I have only worn it once b/c as soon as I sat down, the flaps flew open up to where the last button is! It was awkward as I tried to stay under a desk at all times that day…so has anyone else experienced this? any way to fix it? I love this dress but I feel like I cannot wear it appropriately!

    • Can you do a DIY and sew a snap to the bottom of the dress? Or a snap halfway between the bottom of the dress the last button, if the bottom is fairly straight/pencil-ish? I am assuming that the front is acting similar to a back slit, which allows a bit of a “give.”

    • I had a similar problem with a shirt, and had my tailor add a placket in matching fabric. They did a great job (even added some small snaps to keep it in place), and the shirt is completely wearable now. I’m even considering doing it with a shirt dress that I recently purchased that gaps between my legs (sooooo awkward).

      And for the emergency “just got to work and realized this is a problem” – I used binder clips inside the dress to pinch together the two sides until I could get home.

    • I think I have the exact same Calvin Klein dress as you are describing! I had to stay shoved under my desk all day. I bought it a year ago and wore it just once. I would love to figure out what to do with it.

  10. anon the 25th :

    I agree with the guidelines, but find the choice of the Calvin Klein dress rather puzzling. A metallic fabric is seldom appropriate in business during the day. Polyester also can look cheap. This dress has visible wrinkles.

    A word on the use of the term “underlining”: In sewing, an underlining is a fabric that is sewn to the “fashion fabric” (the shell fabric) at the beginning of the construction process and the two layers thereafter are treated as one. The underlining is usually added to provide opacity or to give body to the main fabric. Most RTW is not underlined, because the underlining fabric is basted by hand so as not to disturb the main fabric too much or shrink it.

    Good RTW is lined, that is, there is a separate, often free-hanging lining that’s similar in shape to that of the garment shell usually made of a slippery fabric such as Bemberg Ambience or China Silk, although cotton is sometimes used. In addition to preserving modesty, it makes it easier to put on and take off the garment and it protects it. It moves with the garment, unlike a slip that you may have to keep checking.

    That’s why I go nuts every time I see a $1,000 dress here that is unlined.

    I’m sure I sound like a fabric snob but I assure you I’m not. If synthetics looked as good and performed as well as natural fibers I would have nothing against them. The reason that fine tailoring only uses wool is because wool can be molded with steam and synthetics can’t.

    • Regarding the metallic fabric on the Calvin Klein dress, you are absolutely right on this point. I tried on that dress and it fit great, but when I got home and walked around in it, it was just too shiny for my office. The metallic is not subtle.

    • What do you recommend for those of us who are allergic to wool (even lined, or my neck breaks out if a wool collar touches it)? I think wool is so beautiful, but I’ve tried everythign to wear it but can’t!

    • anon the 25th :

      Unfortunately, that’s what I figured. I like the color. It would be very nice in silk, but it would have to be a multi-ply fabric, which few of us could afford.

    • I think the metallic color is a know-your-office thing. I personally would feel like the Tin Man in that dress, but there are several women in my office who would look wonderful and could carry it off just fine at work.

      Thanks for the explanation on lining – the author isn’t a native English speaker, and I think she probably meant lining, not underlining. I actually prefer unlined dresses with a slip. I find that inevitably the lining, which is attached to the dress or skirt, gets twisted and either rips away from the garment or causes the garment to pull or twist strangely. Since a slip isn’t attached, if it twists it doesn’t bother the garment.

  11. Great post! I will keep this in mind while I’m searching out the perfect work dress.

  12. This post just convinced me to take back a dress I have been heming and hawing about. I recently purchased a sophisticated off-white sheath dress which, at just $30, I thought was a steal…but now I realize, no matter how much I love how it looks, I will never actually wear it because it has no lining! I tried to convince myself I’d wear it with a slip and that would fix everything, but who am I kidding? A light colored dress made of thin material should be lined, period.

  13. Diana Barry :

    I have several dresses from J crew (taken down in the hem), BR (tall size), and Boden (ditto). Next year I will look at Theory dresses at the outlet.

    I had a great Ann Taylor stretch sheath dress (black) that I wore for EVERYTHING – all my OCI interviews (w/ matching jacket), many of my callback interviews, etc. It was great bc you could make it look different wearing a scarf or different necklaces, etc., and could take off your jacket for the offeree dinner or summer associate event. I loved that dress! Sadly, it shrank UP through dry cleaning over the years, and I had to get rid of it. Lasted me almost 10 years!

  14. Dresses are so easy! Just throw one on, accessorize and you’re out the door. Only problem is that you can’t really wear the same dress more than 2 (maybe 3 if it’s versatile) times a month. I’ve had great luck on Bluefly.com finding work-appropriate dresses. Banana Republic is my go-to place if I’m looking for instant gratification. (btw, I’m in my mid-40s and think that Bluefly and BR have something for everyone!)

    • anon the 25th :

      I wear the same dress more than a couple of times a month. But so many of my dresses are boring navy or black sheath dresses that they all look the same anyway.

  15. styling advice please :

    I bought this at the Nord Anniversary sale. (I swear, it looks better than the photo – that blonde model doesn’t do it justice). styling suggestions? white button down beneath? black tights / boots?

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/elie-tahari-exclusive-for-nordstrom-estelle-dress/3181325?origin=keywordsearch&resultback=349

    or tahari estelle dress …

    • OOOOhhhhh, this is my kinda question. Button downs, absolutely, not only in white. Navy, purple/plum/aubergine, maroon, black, emerald, etc, in a different variety of fabrics – straight-up stiff-fabric button front shirts, or loose blousey button front shirts, which I really like with structured sheath dresses. Even sateen/shiny fabrics. I would stay away from primary colors underneath this dress because then it would look too uniform-y, but in the summer, I’d reach for lighter color shirts (bc air conditioning can be so unforgiving). And don’t forget about patterned shirts/blouses!

      Also, brown. This dress would look amazing with chocolate-colored shirt, sheer brown tights and brown or black suede or leather boots. Man, I’m falling in love with this dress, nice pick!

      • styling advice please :

        thank you Ru! so helpful! add me to your list of style admirers :)

        i am terrible at creative color combinations and need hand-holding at every step of the way, so .. my followup question is, if i wear a navy buttondown beneath, what color tights and shoes? brown? or black?

        • Thanks =).

          It depends on the navy itself and your mood. If the navy has more blue than black in it, brown or black would work. Some say if the navy can be confused with black, then don’t wear black with it because it looks like you got dressed in the dark but I think that wouldn’t apply in this case, since the dress is breaking up blue and black mishmash. So freedom to do as you will, even if you decide to go “crazy” and wear maroon tights with brown or black shoes.

      • Little Lurker :

        everybody loves you, Ru! ;)

        I find it interesting that you’d wear a button-down — I’d be worried about the button placket showing.

        OP, I’d stick to a few colors: chocolate shirt, navy/yellow tights, brown shoes. Or navy top, navy tights, brown/yellow shoes. accessories to match if needed. clearly I like themes.

        I’d totally buy this dress and wear ludicrously bright colors (non-profit!) if it cost $150 less.

        • True, the button placket can be tough but if the fabric of the dress is thick enough and/or the dress isn’t skin tight, then it’s not an issue.

          You’re reminding me that I need to own yellow shoes.

    • White would look like a school uniform. Because the dress is so neutral, I’d wear brighter and more saturated colors underneath to give it some pop.

      • I think you could still go for a white button-down but avoid the uniform look by adding a fun belt and/or colorful accessories. Turquoise would be pretty with this color and a white button-down.

    • Styling Advice Please :

      thanks all!

  16. I am seriously obsessed with the dress she is wearing in the photo, I have been looking for something like this since my last job. I personally like the DKNY you suggested also, at Bloomingdale’s they have a nice wool mini-houndstooth version that is great for cities with cooler seasons.

  17. Great post for those of us who feel comfortable wearing dresses at work. Happily, I almost exclusively wear dresses these days and have retired most of my big law-era suits. Michael Kors makes some great dresses and the MICHAEL Michael Kors line is great quality at an incredible price – I have several of these dress and they cost under $200. DVF does a nice variety of colorful dresses as does Valentino RED though I find both lines run small in terms of sizing. Neiman Marcus has a great selection of both designers plus Rebecca Taylor (so pretty, so feminine) and Theory. A newer designer that I really like is Bradley Scott (www.bradleyscott.com) who was just picked up by Lord & Taylor. For anyone in the DC area, Saks Jandel in Chevy Chase has a wonderful selection of dresses in the $375 – $875 range and very good, personalized service.

  18. I love dresses, too but find it so hard to find small size dresses, or when i do, have to shell out more than I would like to for them (thinking Theory mostly). I do not mean petite sizes (most are for people who are a bit shorter than I am). I am a regular 5’5″ but rather slim (103 lbs and flat chest). Any idea which moderately-priced brand line I should try?

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