We may dream about strolling along the beach as the weather warms up, but when we open the door to our offices, reality kicks in as we take off our jackets and get to work. Dressing for success in the workplace is indeed a fashion fact of life for many of us. But a new season brings a fresh perspective. Ditch the heavy coats and bring on spring!
Check out these new spring and summer trends to brighten up your work wardrobe:
—The white dress and pantsuit. Talk about a refreshing change. You don't have to wait until Memorial Day to step out in white. This spring and summer, dressing in head-to-toe white is one of the fastest ways to update professional dressing. The belted shirtdress is a workday favorite. The little black dress becomes the little white dress!
—The colored jacket. If you only feel like you're really put together at the office when you wear a jacket, then this spring, you're in luck. A new jacket, especially in a pastel shade, can give everything you wear, including sleeveless dresses, instant panache. Add monochromatic separates that blend with the color of your jacket, and you've got a whole new attitude.
—The colored cardigan. Another way to top it off for warmer months. A little more casual than the jacket, these cardigans can soften skirts and pants. Use color to change it up. Pair with white for a summery vibe. Pastels may be the newest way to do color, but black and white sweater sets can give you more classic options, too.
—The full skirt. There's a new proportion to spring and summer when it comes to skirts. Longer, mid-calf length skirts are turning up in fuller silhouettes. Pleated, flared skirts in soft fabrics detailed with unusual hemlines will give your old jackets and cardigans new life.
—The bootcut jeans. Leggings and skinny jeans may be appropriate in casual workplaces, but tailored jeans worn with jackets and heels are now accepted in some more traditional offices. Dark denim washes are best ... distressed looks are best saved for weekends off. Jean jackets layered over printed skirts and dresses may also be a fresh look for very casual offices.
—The floor-grazing trousers. A trendy way to wear the pants this spring. These longer trousers can be tricky, however. If you like the look, wear heels and a more streamlined jacket or top. Just make sure you're not sweeping the office floor when you wear these. Tailored culottes may be a better option.
—The new blouse. It can be a funky sheer top layered over a camisole or a more sophisticated silk tunic worn with a statement belt or a crisp oxford button-front tucked under a fitted jacket. There are plenty of ways to top off more-conservative separates this spring and summer. Take your cues from your co-workers. But beware the crop top that bares any skin ... a definite no-no in most workplaces.
—The spring coat. With still a few chilly days to go, the lighter weight spring coat can be a necessary part of a work wardrobe. The trench coat is a classic, but the three-quarter coat worn over sleeveless sheaths and shifts can be another alternative cover-up.
—Statement accessories. The best way to add some personal flair to your work wardrobe is to add bold accessories: interesting necklaces, rings and bracelets. Mixed metallics are huge. Choose colorful handbags and shoes with architecturally inspired heels and see what kind of reviews you get at the office.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.