Left: Pepper Tunic NZD 215 Center: Dragonfly dress NZD 210 Right: Tuck Detail Dress NZD 210
Work dresses are predominantly conservative, plain and tailored. I'd say the same for the stereotypical pantsuit or skirt suit, a common attire for most corporate workers. In the past, I rarely ventured outside of my comfort zone so it was pretty much a variety of rather uninteresting combination of similar blazers and tailored trousers worn without a hint of femininity to project a tougher image. These days, I would do things a little differently. Perhaps, I'm older and more confident in my own skin, therefore, happier to throw caution to the wind. I've learned that it IS okay to look stylish, feminine and professional.
As long as one adheres to the office guidelines - not too showy , tight or short, you can get away with more interesting cuts or prints as long as it's paired with a structured blazer or simple heels. Although I no longer work in a corporate environment, the same rules have been drummed into my psyche for so long that I still shop with them in mind.
Left: Sparrow Dress NZD 215 Center: Jackie Dress Double Crepe NZD 575 Right: Knotted Waist Dress Painterly NZD 495
I perform 3 tests when I'm in the fitting room (or at the comfort of my own home if I'd ordered online). Don't laugh. I call them the squat, arm and lean forward tests. I squat to ensure that the hems do not skyrocket up to my crotch and expose my underpants. I raise my arms to for the same reason. I also lean forward to establish that the neckline does not expose my entire upper body. I'd rather not get charged with indecent exposure.
The thing about dresses is they're so easy to put on. You don't have to worry about trying to mix and match. A great feature if you're not a morning person like moi. The downside is if they're not cut or do not drape properly, they expose every bulge and flaw. For that reason, I like my arms covered and stay away from jersey material to disguise my bulge (aka muffin top).
I'm a devotee of Karen Walker dresses. They're always original, refreshing and most importantly, flattering. I love a designer who understands that the average woman's body does not look like Gisele's. Pair the dress with a blazer for work and let it shine on its own at an after work party. I'm tempted to get all 6 dresses but may have to limit myself to 2. I've noticed that it's far cheaper to buy directly from Karen Walker and they also ship internationally.
Photo credit: Karen Walker