Perhaps nowhere in your sartorial day-to-day life is inspiration needed more than the workplace. Even the most fashion-savvy girl falls prey to the 9-to-5 doldrums — you know, the grey, white, and black rut. The shift dress groove and the navy blue suit trough can seriously dampen your day. Putting on the same old, same old, and heading off to the same office can become monotonous, no matter how much you love your work.
But what is a girl to do about it? A brand new work wardrobe every season is just for the Wall Street working-girl-about-town, right? Turns out you don't have to head into Club Monaco and slap your credit card down on the counter every time the weather turns, there are chic ways to add trends to what you already own. The result: a breath of fresh air and inspiration to your routine, and a new lease on your daily jaunts between cubicles.
Before you bury yourself in every current fashion magazine (or website) in the name of spring trend research, we're going to make it easy for you and share some office “Yays” and “Nays” for Spring 2012.
YES to Polka Dots
From ADAM to the always feminine Luca Luca (shown), polka dots were strutting down the runway on everything from diaphanous maxi dresses to jewel-toned wrap tops. Don't hesitate to work in a polka dot accent into your wardrobe, even if it's just an inexpensive chiffon scarf you bought at a weekend flea market. Stick with white or cream dots and a solid dark background to keep it office-ready. Outrageous polka prints can undermine your “I mean business” edge.
YES to Drop Waist Dresses
The silhouette of the roaring twenties is back in a very literal way, at least on the catwalk. The drop-waist (that is the waistline being at your hips instead of your natural waist), easy breezy look dominated in some of the most exclusive spring collections such as Giambattista Valli, Gucci, and Chloe (shown). This is a way to play with proportion, and show a bit of leg at the office that will not compromise your femininity or your fashion sense. Try feminine fabrics with plenty of movement. If you can only buy one new dress this season for work, the drop waist is a solid contender.
YES to Bold Prints
There was a time when women stood out at the office by trying to look like their male cohorts (think of major shoulder pads in the 80s), but we've come to a place that allows us to stand out in our own way, by showing off what makes us different. Stand out in a sea of solid blacks and greys by wearing a top or bottom with a bold print. We're not talking a delicate, ditsy flower pattern. We mean flowers in full bloom, birds sailing on fabric, and geometric shapes. One of these pieces will suffice as a wardrobe mix-up, which is why it's a perfect way to do Spring 2012 without breaking the bank. Need inspiration? Look at the collections of Jason Wu, J.Crew (shown), and Prabal Gurung. Stick to one strong piece paired with your demure, solid, separates.
YES to Pastel and Metallic Accessories
Remember that plain white button-up in your closet and the boxy shift dress you wear when you don't want to think too hard? It's time to use a few current trends to punch both of them up. The colors du jour for spring accessories come in a variety of delicious sorbet shades. Lanvin, Chloe, Louis Vuitton (shown), and Jil Sander all showed bags and shoes in soft pink, mustard yellow, cream, and mint green. Wear these soft colors on a few pieces of costume jewelry like a cocktail ring or a stack of bangles and pair it with your solid white top. Metallics are still making headway, too. Chunky heels, open and pointed toes are the shoe shapes of the minute. Buy a pair of metallic heels to pair with your shift and you've got statement-making style.
NO to Sporty
There's a fine line between fashion risk and fashion victim. Don't fall prey to the lure of a look just because it's new and a designer chose to feature it in their spring show. There are definitely some outfits best left to the runway. For example, the sporty chic vibe that's been seen on the girls strutting for Isabel Marant (shown) and Lacoste. This is weekend gear, if anything, the subtle stripes and piping are a bit too casual for average office attire requirements.
NO to Skin
Altuzarra, Carven, and Alexander Wang (shown) are hot labels for PYTs to pour over, but the bare midriff and cut-out looks they've created are a no-no for your office. Keep your tummy covered and show off your ab workouts after work hours.
NO to White on White
Doo Ri and Yigal Azrouel (shown) have all-white dresses that call to mind a pristine lifestyle with a modern edge. Beware, white-on-white is hard to pull off in any scenario. Thought it's pure, it begs to be worn in warm weather and some of this year's coolest labels have made it a thing, avoid pure white at work. White can be a recipe for a mishap you have to live with for eight hours, such as an early morning coffee spill.