Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dress for success and comfort at work

(ARA) - Wondering what to wear at the office as the temperature climbs this summer? Fashion experts at The Art Institutes have some words to live by when dressing for success at your workplace.

"There are many ways to incorporate summer's hottest trends into your office wardrobe without compromising your professional credibility," says Marlise Vance, senior instructor in Fashion Merchandising at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati. "Using color, accessories and patterns can bring a summer feel to your work ensembles, even if the pieces themselves are traditional office conservative. A bright tank or cami under a jacket, a colorful patterned skirt or fashion-forward shoes can make a big impact."

"Black is never out of style," says Stephanie Taylor, academic director of Fashion Marketing and Management at The Art Institute of Charlotte. "A great idea is to pair a black suit with fresh colors such as lime green, hot pink or yellow."

Some of the hottest trends this summer include a more do-it-yourself kind of attitude. "The big trend this summer is that there is no big trend. Instead of going out and buying a trendy new outfit, recycle and reuse the clothes you do have," says Taylor.

As part of this do-it-yourself kind of season, however, there are essentials every woman may want to purchase when dressing for the office.

"Accessories are an essential part of the dress code, and summer can be a good time to try a new scarf or bracelet," says Thomas Liddy, apparel design instructor at The Art Institute of Portland.

Cardigans are another great buy.

"Women want to invest in a great cardigan this summer," says Mike Watson, Fashion Marketing and Management instructor at The Art Institute of Charlotte. "A cardigan is great because you can wear it over a sleeveless shirt or dress, and then take it off when you leave work."

He adds, "If I had to tell women to buy one thing for the summer, I would tell them to buy a white skirt or pants."

"Think about your overall look throughout the day," says Patricia Crockett, Apparel Design instructor at The Art Institute of Portland. "If you choose to wear a lower-cut top or camisole underneath your blazer, ask yourself if you'll really wear the blazer or sweater all day. If the answer is no, choose another top that will complement your outfit and look work-appropriate on its own."

What's underneath your outfit also is crucial to your being dressed for success.

"Appropriate undergarments are essential," says Julie Hengle, academic director for the Fashion Merchandising and Interior Design programs at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati. "There is nothing less professional than an unsuitable foundation piece."

Common sense goes a long way, she elaborates. "Though it should go without saying, it bears repeating and reemphasizing: There should never be an occasion in the workplace when your co-workers can discern anything about your underwear. If you want to be taken seriously and judged for your work, not your wardrobe, then make good choices in proper undergarments."

"What you wear to the office in the summer should always be one step removed from what you wear to an after-work event such as a date or cocktail party," says Vance. "That means there should be something you either add, such as trendy accessories like jewelry or shoes, or something you can remove, like a jacket or sweater."

Along with the essential "Dos" come absolute "Don'ts." According to the fashion experts at The Art Institutes, one should follow these rules in the office, no matter how high the temperature climbs outside:

* No tube tops or halter tops.

* No flip-flops or gladiator sandals.

* Never go braless and be careful not to show too much cleavage.

* No minis: Skirts should fall at or below the knee.

* Don't go sleeveless -- cover bare arms with that cardigan.

* If you wear open toe-shoes, make sure you have a pedicure.

* And, men: Never go sockless.

"Make sure skirts are office-appropriate, which includes length," says Crockett. "Because women bare their legs in summer, skirts should be closer to the knee. In winter, skirts can be shorter because women wear dark hosiery underneath."

For men, there also are appropriate ways to transition to warm weather summer attire.

"Men obviously have fewer options than women when it comes to changing their wardrobe for summer time." Watson says. "But what they can do is change from dark, heavy clothes to light clothes. For more fashion-forward companies it is perfectly acceptable to wear short-sleeved European dress shirts to work."

Liddy adds, "If your office culture allows jeans, pair them with a lightweight blazer. Ties can also be worn more loosely to achieve a great summer look."

No matter what, both men and women should "resist the urge to dress down for summer," says Liddy. "Save the strappy sandals for evening and the sports sandals for the weekend."

To learn more about The Art Institutes system of schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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