I’m lucky enough to work in an office where I can wear maxi dresses on more casual days. It’s generally a relaxed business casual environment, with employees adjusting their dressy/casual levels depending on their external meeting schedules (so one person might be suited up while another is donning khaki capris). Do you have any suggestions for styling a maxi dress (my summertime staple!) to be appropriate and chic for the office? Mine all have wide enough straps to be work appropriate, but they seem *too* casual without a layering piece. I’ve tried to pair them with jackets and cardigans, but for whatever reason, I can’t get the proportions to line up just right. Is there a particular style/shape/length of topper that you’d recommend? Thanks!
Hmmmn. I’m still pretty anti-maxi dresses for the office, but I’m going to take Reader P at her word that, for her office, they’re totally appropriate — and this also may be a useful question for people going in to the office on a weekend and unexpectedly getting pulled into a meeting, or so forth, so let’s discuss. (Pictured: French Connection Brushstroke Print Jersey Maxi Dress, available at Nordstrom for $94, was $158.)
- Wear a normal bra, and keep it covered. If you need a strapless bra or a special racer back bra, put the dress down — you shouldn’t have to wear special bras for office attire. As Reader P mentioned, make sure your maxi dress has wide enough straps to cover your bra. Be wary of a very low neckline, or of a maxi dress with skin-baring cutouts.
- Keep your shoes professional. This can be the hardest thing — I think strappy flats look good with a maxi dress, but that’s me. Just because your dress covers your shoes doesn’t mean you can get away with flip flops or wedge sandals.
- Cover your arms and shoulders with a fitted shape. I tend to like wearing shrugs with maxi dresses on the weekend, but that can also look casual. For the office I would try it with a shrunken blazer or perhaps a fitted blouse. You want to add structure to the looseness on the bottom.
- Dress it up with accessories. A skinny patent belt, a delicate necklace, or a high quality statement necklace — all of these things can go a long way.
- Keep your hair neat and tidy, such as in an office updo.
Readers, what do you think — assuming a maxi dress is appropriate to wear to your office, how would you style it for work? Can a maxi dress make a good business casual look?
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