When Yellow Scene approached me about penning a piece on professional style, I had to appreciate the irony. You see, before moving to Boulder, I worked two corporate jobs in New York City (both landing on the very conservative end of the style spectrum), and I was a notorious dress code violator. From the fashion forward sandals with skirts to the nude fishnet stockings I wore under suits, I was always getting into trouble in these very staid corporate cultures. However, as a style professional, I’m able to separate my high-style preference from the need to follow protocol, while still embodying individuality.
In an attempt to provide some style guidance to the worker bees of Boulder County, let’s first admit that our professional culture is all over the map. On any given day, I’ll drive past commuters wearing everything from a suit to Crocs with socks to jean cutoffs with exposed back tattoos. With so many different industries and such a relaxed way of life, the expectations for the office are quite different than you’d find in bigger cities. Therefore, I’ve split our beehive into three separate categories.
If you work in an office where great style and creativity are rewarded, your challenge is to maintain one foot in the box with the other firmly out. To that end, the black blazer is the prime transition piece. Over a bold print dress and gold necklaces or a brooch, it adds the perfect professional polish to a super stylish outfit. Maximize your clothing carte blanche with fabulous footwear; booties are the hot item of this season and bring any outfit to the next level.
If your job requires a suit or suit separates, you have the least amount of style wiggle room; there are, however, still a few areas that are fashion flexible. Pick a blouse or buttondown that is feminine (silk), printed and colorful and pair with the classic pencil skirt in a neutral color. Pearl strands add a conservative chic feel and a pair of black booties provide a touch of edge. If the edge is too sharp, a black or nude patent leather pump or wedge is the answer. For boardrooms and client meetings, add a black blazer for insta-suit.
In a casual workplace, jeans, though often acceptable, are rarely encouraged. For this season, corduroys (in a rich fall color) are the ideal pant to dress up with a neutral silk top and black blazer. Jewelry and accessories provide the final style directive: pearls to dress up, layers of gold (both fine and costume) to dress down and black booties to emphasize the contemporary.