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Summer style rules for work

Updated: Aug 23, 2011 02:20 PM EDT
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By Anne L. Fritz

From Bright Smile Beautiful You 

Remember when Casual Friday was the only dress-for-work challenge? Now fashion rules for the office are increasingly trickier as traditional nighttime trends like sequins, metallic and lace are moving into the day. Throw in summer's warmer weather, and figuring out what to wear from 9 to 5 is almost as hard as landing your dream job. Read on for eight summer style rules for work.

1. Look around you

Your outfit doesn't have to be a discount knockoff version of your boss's or a carbon copy of your cube-mate's. You can show off some personal style -- just make sure it's in line with your corporate culture. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. "It may be hot outside, but that does not make going skimpy to work appropriate," says Christina Joy, a New York City-based personal stylist.


2. Learn to layer


When the air conditioning is blasting, don't automatically reach for that dingy green sweater. Instead, Joy suggests a brightly colored cotton cardigan, a denim blazer or trendy military jacket. A summer scarf in cotton jersey or a silk-cashmere blend is another easy way to stay warm. Remove either to instantly take your outfit from day to night.


3. A denim do


Jeans are acceptable at many offices these days, but not every type of denim is professional. Opt for dark washes in trouser styles. Silk tunics and long, crisp shirts look fresh over skinny jeans, says Joy. Finish the look with a high-heeled shoe.


4. Say yes to shorts


Shorts are making a splash this season, and if worn correctly, they may work at the office too. Go for long lengths (mid-thigh at the minimum) and wear with demure tops. Jean cutoffs are a strict no-go.


5. Fabric finesse


When it comes to sequins, lace and sheers, things get a little tricky. If you work in a creative field like advertising, you may be able to pull out all the stops. Otherwise, look for clothing that has just a touch. Try a cardigan with sequined trim or a full skirt with a sheer overlay, for example. Or simply accessorize with the trend.


6. Shoe sense


Reserve the flip-flops for the beach. Strappy sandals and modified gladiator sandals (avoid styles that lace up higher than your ankle) are generally OK. If your office has a stated policy against open-toed shoes, opt for heels in bold hues or printed fabrics.


7. Have fun with accessories


Even in the most conservative work environments, you can flaunt your style with jewelry. Large statement necklaces and colorful cocktail rings are popular and office-appropriate. However, leave the jewelry that makes noise (including that stack of bangles) at home.


8. Afterhours


If you're on the company softball team or have an office picnic, you don't have to show up in a work-appropriate dress -- but you still need to keep it classy. That means no spandex, no torn jean shorts and no sloppy sweats. Ask yourself whether you would wear the outfit to go meet your significant other's parents for the first time. If the answer is yes, then you're probably OK.


Anne L. Fritz
is the former style director for Life & Style Weekly and has been on staff at Woman's Day and Working Mother. She has contributed to Marie Claire, Glamour and Prevention, and she is the founder of The Jet Set Girls, a website about girls' getaways.
 

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