When it comes to dressing to impress, there’s no denying that Of Mercer founders, Dorie Smith and Emelyn Northway, know how to pull it off! Their brand features a collection of work-appropriate clothing that inspires us to bridge the gap between creative expression and professionalism. From ultra-flattering shift dresses to elegant blazers that can go from “desk to dinner” in a snap, the brand is catching the eye of working gals all over the world who are looking to up their style game at work without having to up their budgets.
Today, Dorie and Emelyn are here to share nine tried-and-true tricks for making an appropriately eye-catching statement while strutting the halls at your paying gig. Read on for their strategies, and then curate your own collection of must-haves here!
Little Black Dress
If you own one piece of workwear, it should be a classic black sheath dress. If you can’t find one that fits you perfectly off the rack, make the investment to get it tailored. It’s the essential building block of any work wardrobe. It also provides endless opportunities for layering, accessorizing and, thus, countless outfit options. And when you’re in a pinch because you haven’t done laundry, you can never go wrong with a great-fitting LBD!
If you like color, wear it! The rules of dressing for the office are changing. Even in the most formal office environments, a bold color is more than OK. In fact, it can be an asset—wearing a bold color in a sea of black suits projects confidence. Choose classic, not-too-tight silhouettes (like a hot pink pencil skirt), and pair the pop of color with neutral separates and accessories to make sure you don’t overdo it.
If you are going to a networking event, wear a dress with pockets. Pockets provide a great place to stash your business cards so you can look professional and don’t have to rummage through your purse to grab them.
The Perfect Silhouette
Always be mindful of your hemlines and necklines, and how they behave over the course of your day. When you’re shopping, do a “sit down test” to make sure you won’t suddenly show off your upper thigh when you take a seat at the conference table. Be wary of necklines that may unexpectedly open up or creep downward throughout the day. We found wrap dresses to be guilty of this, so we designed our own wrap dress specifically to wrap above the bust—no camisole necessary!
If you wear it to yoga, you shouldn’t wear it to work. We constantly hear complaints from HR teams about employees embracing the athleisure trend in the office. So, invest in a great pair of skinny-leg work pants that feel like leggings, but aren’t. Make sure they have “real-pant” features like belt loops or pockets that make it obvious you aren’t wearing your Lululemons.
Always leave a classic cardigan on the back of your desk chair for easy access during the day. Choose a neutral color that will go with anything. It’s the perfect defense against over-air-conditioned offices, and will help you seamlessly transition between seasons. It will also keep your shoulders covered for that unexpected meeting with your boss.
Dress for comfort, but not at the expense of looking sloppy. Look for fabrics that are wrinkle-free to avoid creases from sitting at a desk all day. And if your idea of comfort means a looser-fitting dress (something that never touches your body, for example), make sure you aren’t choosing something that resembles a sack. Opt for a style that has tailored detailing and a feminine drape.
Invest in pieces that can go from work to weekend. A tailored blazer looks equally chic as part of a suit for a big board meeting as it does over your favorite vintage T-shirt for Sunday brunch. When going for a more traditional look, choose one with a peaked lapel, and for a more modern look, go collarless!
Your Personal Style
No matter what your office dress code is, the most important thing is to always embrace your personal style and wear clothes that make you feel your best. When you are confident in your outfit—whether it’s a feminine evergreen dress or pair of slacks and a button-up blouse—you will exude that confidence in everything you do, including totally nailing that important client presentation.