Three ideas about how you can build a great office wardrobe: PPA — pencil skirts, personalization, and accessories.
By Tawn Chatchavalvong
“What makes it so hard to choose clothes for the office?,” I ask my girlfriends with corporate jobs. Their responses – and you have probably thought something similar – include feeling like you are being told what to wear, having to dress in a style that doesn’t feel like you, and sometimes just feeling overwhelmed by the choices.
The frustration is palpable. The fun of getting dressed up in gone.
But it doesn’t have to be. While you can argue that some people were born with a sense of style, such as Grace Kelly and Sarah Jessica Parker (or at least are blessed to have a good personal stylist like Rachel Zoe), I think that “style” in terms of office wear is more about making an effort. It means selecting and trying new pieces and looks, finding out what works for you, and being confident when you wear it!
Let me share my PPA, three ideas about how you can build a great office wardrobe: it is pencil skirts, personalization, and accessories.
In her book, “I Love Your Style,” Amanda Brooks states: “Sometimes I am tempted to get an office job as an excuse to wear a pencil skirt more often.” It is true pencil skirts do make their wearers look adorably elegant and professional. With their slim shape and high waist tightly hugging the hips, pencil skirts emphasize a woman’s hourglass shape and make the wearer feel like Victoria Beckham.
Collection after collection, designers reinterpret this classic skirt. These little design twists keep the skirt interesting and cement its place as a must-have piece in a working-woman’s wardrobe.
For example, for my TAWN C. brand, I designed a pencil skirt with rows of gold buttons, giving it a nautical touch. It looks a bit like sailor pants. Another example is a classic Dolce & Gabbana rose-print pencil skirt. What an elegant way to present a romantic floral print – perfect for the office!
Dressing for work means dressing up for your responsibilities at the company. But even wearing an uniform doesn’t have to mean losing all your character and blending in with your colleagues. Strive to find a balance between your company’s dress code and your personal style.
Do this by adding pieces that convey your tastes and interests. If you like nature, for example, mix a fun Mary Katrantzou printed silk-satin pencil skirt with a classic top, such as an elegant Michael Kors silk-georgette blouse.
You can also personalize your attire by adding a piece that has particular meaning to you – a brooch your mother gave you or a handbag you bought on your honeymoon.
Even if the meaning of these details is not immediately clear to others, your knowledge of them will build confidence and add to your sense of personal style.
The dazzling Marilyn Monroe reportedly said, “I don’t know who invented the high heel, but all men owe him a lot.” The importance of accessorizing the office wear cannot be understated. When done well, accessories can make your look more interesting and change the message and tone of an outfit.
While women know the importance of the right man (Manolo Blanik, Brian Atwood) for the right shoes, they should keep in mind that first and foremost, the accessories they wear are supposed to express who they are, not who designed them. For example, if you have a bit of a Bohemian side, you can add some Kelly Wearstler malachite earrings to your otherwise conservative office wear, and in this way make an interesting fashion statement.
Office wear is also a great chance to mix and match masculine pieces. A retro bow or a cute tie, perhaps a pocket watch or shiny dress shoes can spice up the dull uniform into a hot power dress. For example, if you are wearing a tailored blazer, you can slip a silky Jim Thompson napkin into your pocket. If you want to tone the masculine blazer down instead, add a feminine Lanvin flower pin on your lapel.
Finally, as I suggest to my girlfriends: It is the small things that make the greatest difference. One piece, one choice, one unique accessory – that’s all it takes to add a personal touch in office wear.
Where to shop
TAWN C at Central Chidlom, Ploenchit Rd., Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok
Tel: +66 80-262-5556 // www.tawn-c.com
CLUB 21, Erawan Bangkok 494 Ploenchit Rd, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok
Tel: +66 2-250-7712 // www.club21global.com