As the days get longer and the skies get sunnier, it’s time to think about a fresh, updated look for spring. Get ready to put away those winter woolen layers and start considering what lightweight fabrics, colors and accessories to add to your work wardrobe to infuse it with renewed energy and add a little spring to your step.
Having been in the fashion industry for years, I know that every designer, retailer, and fashion magazine has their own unique take on what constitutes spring must-haves. But I’ve also noticed that most of these trends or collections tend to focus on weekend wear or casual wear for warm-weather vacationers. While I love seeing all fashion trends emerge, as a professional image consultant I have to say that not all of these popular trends will be appropriate for everyone, and many are not relevant to the workplace wardrobe needs of professional women.
So in this article I’ve honed in on the trends and reinterpreted several of them that can add a bit of sparkle and flair to your everyday 9 to 5 professional or business casual wardrobe.
colorful spring tones
All of my major professional clients know that dark neutrals are the true power colors. But come spring with its warmer temperatures, you may need to lighten your neutrals to get more versatility out of your wardrobe while retaining an empowered professional presence. This season the new neutral colors are Navy, Grey, Pewter, Olive, Tan, Black and White. Invest in a few basic wardrobe pieces, such as a suit, a pair of dress pants or a skirt, to gain valuable versatility and a longer life from your clothing investments. You can also always add a brighter fashion color of the season like turquoise, blue, tomato red, coral, tangerine, lemon yellow, fresh green or purple. Use these brighter shades to add a touch of style to your powerful neutrals by incorporating them into a silk blouse, dress shoe, bag or scarf. Your sense of style will convey to others that you know the trendy colors of the season and at the same time distinguish yourself with a uniquely refined and attractive look.
your printed style
I love prints because they can add a bit of magic to a solid suit or skirt, and this spring you’ll see lots of romantic, abstract, tropical, safari and tribal floral prints. But remember that in the workplace printouts should be smaller so they don’t distract from your professional image. For example, you never want to wear a large print dress to a speech, where the focus will be on your wardrobe instead of you. While it’s great to add a few prints to your ensemble, be sure to shop for smaller prints and add them in small doses across garments like tops, scarves, bags, or shoes.
New accessories for the new decade
jeweler’s – Big and bold jewelry fashion statements, with necklaces, earrings and bracelets that tend to be chunkier and a little shiny, will continue to be in style this spring. These are great must-have pieces when you want to create dramatic interest for your social wardrobe. But when dressing for the work environment, you need to tone it down a bit. Instead of using five to ten strands of large pearls, for example, look for a necklace of two strands of smaller pearls. If you’re wearing a dress to work, perhaps a statement earring will suffice, or you can add a beautifully elegant bracelet. I also often see women at networking events with a beautiful ruffled or embellished neckline that they have managed to ruin by needlessly adding a necklace. You don’t always need a necklace. You can let the details of a gorgeous neckline take center stage while wearing another, less obscure piece of jewelry like an earring or a set of dainty bracelets.
Bags and Totes – The bags are smaller this season and are carried with a touch of fresh color. Popular styles are soft, slouchy shoulder bags and satchel and hobo styles in barely-there buttery-smooth leathers in neutral or “nude” colors. You will also see handbags or totes with touches of color such as blues, yellows, pinks, and floral or animal prints. A large tote bag is a must for all professionals and is a wonderfully stylish way to carry work essentials.
Shoes – Every working woman should consider buying the exciting new nude shoe. Beige nude pumps, platform shoes, wedges and flats look perfectly modern and sensationally edgy. Those women of color with richer, darker complexions should look for shoes in warmer tones that match their legs, such as various luscious shades of brown, black, or coffee. The key here, regardless of your particular skin tone, is to find a shade that minimizes the contrast between the color of the shoe and the natural color of your legs.
Because? Because then when you put the shoe on it has the magical visual impact of elongating the look of the leg. Wearing skin-tone shoes, in other words, is an easy technique to instantly give your legs that desirable long, lean, long-legged appearance. Combine the nude shoe with the navy blue for an elegant and sophisticated style.
Another big find this season is the return of mid-heels from 1 to 3 inches. The low heel is more comfortable to wear when you need to be on your feet all day, and these heels exude a subtle sexiness that’s understated enough to fabulously complement your professional look.
Five must-have spring fashion essentials for the refined professional
1) A modern dress – As spring approaches, it’s all about dressing styles that are belted at the waist or draped in a soft, flowing silhouette. Nothing is more on-trend this season than the classic shirtdress, which is tailored enough for work but still exudes a bold attitude. For those dressier occasions, select a soft, flowy dress with a bit of ruching around the middle of the silhouette, which is a great way to camouflage those tummy issues we want to disguise. However, don’t forget that your work dress style should still be structured or fitted. I love softer romantic florals and styles with big ruffles, but I suggest that instead of wearing them to work, you save them for a time when you need to arrive in style to a social event.
2) The Updated Basic White Shirt – The white blouse or shirt is always a great way to add a lighter, fresher look when the mercury is rising. But this season isn’t about wearing the men’s shirt, so look for structured tailoring with some distinctly modern details like ruffles, shirring, or tucking across the body of the shirt. You’ll also find great details on the ¾-inch sleeves, like cuffs or little ruffles, that will highlight your lower arms in style.
3) romantic flowers – If you work in a less conservative environment where business casual reigns supreme, feel free to add a touch of flair with a floral skirt or blouse. Pair the pencil-style floral or soft flowy with a tucked-in blouse or cropped jacket to liven up your look. Ruffled or soft flowy tops and woven tops will also be everywhere this season, for dressy or casual wear alike. If you are a senior leader within your organization and this style works for you, my suggestion is to wear smaller ruffles on a beautiful blouse, or smaller floral prints on a large scarf. Wearing business clothes that are too romantic can inadvertently send the wrong message that women are weak, and I want you to arrive at your corner office stylish but with grace and power.
4) America feels sad – Blue is America’s favorite color, and this year the color blue is bigger than it has been in years. Choose darker shades of blue like navy blue to convey professionalism, confidence, and dependability. Purchase a navy blue suit or add a medium blue shoe, bag or necklace to your ensemble. If you have blue eyes, choose a blue silk blouse or a small necklace of stones in the same shade of blue as your eyes and they will look bigger and brighter. Be careful when choosing your shades of blue so that you look your best. If you have a cool skin tone, for example, go for deeper, richer shades of navy blue or cobalt. If you have a warmer complexion, on the other hand, shop for lighter, brighter shades like teal or turquoise.
5) Pencil Notes Regarding Pencil Skirts – Modern pencil styles are available in stores now in some cool modern prints and fun colors. Updated with a new color or pattern, the traditional pencil skirt gives your tailored look a bit of modern-classic flair. But be careful how different prints on skirts can change or overemphasize your figure shape. If you tend to be wider in the hip area, skip this trend or keep it simple by wearing skirts in a soft dark neutral like black, navy or brown, and reserve your fun prints for the upper half of your body. . However, if you have narrow, narrow hips, you can have fun by adding a small print or a lighter solid color to your pencil skirt and you’ll be deliciously on-trend for the upcoming season.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest career trends report and are ready to shop and explore to find some new pieces to add to your wardrobe. It’s all about versatility this year, so before you head out to add a few items, first review your existing spring wardrobe and look for colors and prints that maximize their use and utility. You definitely have to discover a trend that speaks to your authentic style and personality. Then you can use it in strategic doses around the office to project an innovative sense of edgy fashion and polished professionalism.