A Professional Girl's Guide To Style

You love fashion, but you also love your job… and it's not your fault if the two don't really get along! If your office dress code is a little less than inspired, it's still possible to inject some personality into your 9-5 look without falling victim to the same pencil skirt / cardigan uniform you've come to dread. We asked the ladies behind professional women's web site (and lifesaver) The Daily Muse to shed some light on office-friendly styling tips that'll give your coworkers something to talk about around the water cooler—in a good way.
Photo: Via Zara
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Show Your Stripes—If there’s any pattern that’s both timeless and trendy, it’s stripes. Whether you opt for classic navy and white or go for bold with poppy-toned hues, this versatile print is a great way to round out your work wardrobe. Pair with a boyfriend blazer and chunky gold jewelry to go all-out nautical, or add some bright accessories to really give your stripes a timely punch. Best of all, this is one pattern will never go out of style — so if you see them hiding on the sale rack, go ahead and stock up!
Stella McCartney Striped Sweater, $555, available at Net-a-Porter.
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Wear Crayola Colors—Don’t get lost in the sea of black and grey — everyone needs a little color in their office! This season, bold jewel tones are everywhere, and they’re perfectly office-appropriate, too. A quality piece in a highly saturated primary color — think a classic leather clutch in tomato-soup red or a mustard-yellow blazer — will never go out of style. Use these standout pieces to add a pop of fun to an outfit lacking oomph, or mix and match them for a color-blocked look.
Mango Carrot-Style Trousers, $69.07, available at Mango.
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Crop it Real Good—Suit pants are not only boring, they’re usually ill-fitting and probably not the most flattering, either. Instead, incorporate some cropped pants into your rotation. We’re not talking capris — try nicely tailored trousers that hit just above the ankle. They’re flattering on many body types, and can be dressed up or down, depending on your mood or work environment. Pair them with a crisp button-up with a jeweled necklace tucked under the collar and this season’s smoking slippers for a sophisticated, polished look. Going to happy hour? Put on your favorite worn-in T-shirt and some platform booties and you’re after-hours-ready!
Zara Wide Studio Trousers, $89.90, available at Zara
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Go for the Gold—We all know accessories can transform an outfit. But when you’re running late for work and need to dash out the door, you don’t have the time to strategize about how to successfully layer your statement bangles and necklaces. The solution? Have a collection of simple gold and mixed metal jewelry (both chunky and delicate) on hand. When you’re in a rush, you can just grab a handful of metallic bracelets and necklaces — they go with everything, and they’re timeless. Trust us, you’ll find yourself reaching for that simple-but-funky chain-link gold and silver necklace season after season.
Kenneth Jay Lane Polished Lobster Claw Necklace, $220, available at Shopbop.
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Get Your Spot On—When you think neutral, you probably think black, white, gray, beige...and cheetah? That’s right, cheetah print — when done right — can work as a classic neutral. (When done wrong? It can look cheap and, dare we say it, tacky. So be careful.) Look for impeccably made pieces with classic cuts. For a simple touch, try adding a horse-hair cheetah print skinny belt to your favorite office-friendly LBD. Or, go all out with a well-cut cheetah print pencil skirt and a bright, colorful heel.
J.Crew Jules Dress, $188, available at J.Crew.