If your office wardrobe is starting to feel stale, there are some simple ways to elevate your look. For Spring 2012 we saw ladylike rose-hued suits at Givenchy and chic pantsuits in vibrant tangerine (this season’s spotlight shade) at Vivienne Tam, along with blouses in
eye-popping neon at Ruffian. “With the wave of new industries emerging, dressing for the job you want – or the one you have has never been more exciting,” says fashion designer Claudia Patel. She believes clothing should fit the way women live: with designs that are feminine, comfortable, contemporary and functional.

Patel shared her must-have picks for what to add to your office-appropriate wardrobe this year. “These items are meant to compliment your personality and confidence at work, giving you just the right amount of sass to stand out from the crowd, yet professional enough to make it known that you are here to leave a mark.”

1. Work wardrobe must-have: Statement jacket

Blazers are an office mainstay but they don’t have to be boring. Give your at-work wardrobe a boost by adding one or two jackets that can anchor an outfit and give it some edge. “A statement jacket is that perfect piece that can add some serious fun to your wardrobe,” Patel says. She shares three ways to create a unique look with a blazer that are anything but boring.

  • Dress up your everyday office attire by pairing a tuxedo jacket with a fitted top and a black pair of skinny pants.
  • Walk away from the conventional by pairing a solid coloured dress with a jacket that has a pop of colour.
  • Keep things simple but eye-catching by pairing a dark pair of skinny jeans with a statement jacket that has bold detailing.

2. Work wardrobe must-have: Shoes with attitude

One of the easiest ways to
upgrade an outfit is with accessories. Don’t let footwear be an office afterthought and opt for a pair that gets noticed. “Lead your creative team to a winning client pitch with your best shoe forward – the perfect power pump,” Patel says. She suggests opting for something with a distinguishing feature – be it a stand-out shade that is both eye-catching but sophisticated (think plum or forest green) or interesting detail (side cut out, embellishments). “To draw the right amount of attention to your shoes, make sure to think colour contrast when choosing your outfit,” she advises. “That ensures that your pumps pop as you blaze through the work day.”

Two more must-have pieces you should have in your work wardrobe on the next page…
3. Work wardrobe must-have: Bold pencil skirt

Rather than sticking with standard black or charcoal grey, Patel suggests going with a skirt that has some colour. “A pencil skirt in a great hue brings a touch of confident femininity to the workplace,” she says. Keep the rest of your outfit neutral. Pair your bolder-hued pencil skirt with a cream blouse or white shirt and black pumps or ankle boots. “Tuck in a simple conservative blouse to show off your curves elegantly, and make sure you wear heels to lengthen your legs for that perfect symmetry,” she advises.

4. Work wardrobe must-have: Structured bag

With so many options to choose from when it comes to bags it can be hard to find the
perfect at-work purse. Whatever you decide make it something structured (box handbag, satchel, doctor’s style bag) to create a polished, professional look, Patel advises. “Structured statement bags are any career girl’s trump card to the job she wants. Take a cue from celebrity entrepreneur Victoria Beckham, who never leaves home without a bag that gets noticed.”

More tips for office style success:

Patel offers her tips on what to do – and what not to do when it comes to carrying off impressive office style.

Say yes to structure: Everything right down to the bag you carry to work needs to have some type of structure to look sleek and polished. Leave your cute hobo bag for the weekends.

Experiment with colour: Black is a sleek look for the office, but also experiment with hues, which is a great way to stand out confidently from the crowd.

Don’t fear fit and flare: Do not be afraid to celebrate your femininity. Flared skirts and dresses can be worn to the office (in the appropriate length). Complemented with a fitted jacket to look polished, and you’ll have the versatility to remove it for dinner and drinks at seven.

Stay covered up: Do not use the work place to experiment with plunging neck lines. Hot pants are summers next big thing? Wear them out on with your date to impress him, not to meet with your CEO, no matter what industry you are in.

Read more:
Spring 2012 fashion trends: Unconventional high heels

Revamped ladylike stylings
Spring 2012 fashion accessories: Pop of colour