Back with another edition of Suit Your Style, let’s chat today about jersey wrap dresses at the office. Uber comfortable and relatively cool in summer heat, a jersey dress becomes very tempting to throw on for the office. Proceed with caution. Jersey dresses can be quite casual. Sometimes they may be a bit risque as a result of the cut of the dress or just the inherently light and clingy fabric.
My navy and green wrap dress is light, comfortable, and affordable (thank you Target). But on it’s own, I felt a little too exposed for the office. Here are my additions to make it work for work.
The Camisole: A camisole can be one’s best friend! The v-neck cut of this dress reveals too much upstairs business for the office. Although it may appear acceptable when standing perfectly still in front of the mirror while getting dressed in the morning, consider moving around, bending over, walking down a hallway, and most importantly, sitting at a conference table and leaning forward to talk to your tall boss sitting across the table. Better yet, stand behind a colleague and help them with something on their computer while they sit in their chair. I anticipate less will be left to the imagination than one might hope. (Trust me, I’ve been there. Please learn from my mistakes!)
I have a collection of camisoles in just about every color that I can throw on under a dress or tank, a sheer blouse, or any other item that could use just the tiniest bit of assistance to stay classy. I buy them from Target, on clearance at Old Navy, The Limited, or myriad other stores. They do not have to be expensive as the tailored fit or quality (or lack there of) often gets covered by your main pieces. Investing just a few dollars in a few neutral colored camisoles (nude, black, white, gray, what have you) will expand and step up your wardrobe exponentially.
As a matter of personal preference, I hated the built-in support that many camisoles included. Not only did they limit changes in size (weight gain or loss, pregnancy, etc…), often times the support acted like a push-up bra, and I certainly don’t need any “manufactured cleavage” (or any cleavage, for that matter) at work. I cut out the built-in support (cutting right up against the seam to prevent any odd lines or layers underneath the camisole) and helped make so many of my camisoles much more versatile.
The Belt: Although the dress provides a sufficiently tailored fit to be worn without a belt, I decided to add the belt to provide an extra layer of depth to the outfit. You can see above that it takes a pretty casual dress up just a tiny notch to look more finished and office-appropriate.
Also, this belt fits my hips, meaning it’s traditionally too large for my waist. I have not yet invested in a leather punch tool to create my own holes, but the metal prong on this belt (that fits through the holes) bends all the way backwards. So in this case, I folded it all the way flat and laid it underneath the end of the belt that I tucked under the belt itself. That probably makes no sense, but hopefully you can see in the photo how I rigged the belt to make it work. I love getting creative to make something work for me in a way that may not be exactly how it was intended to function.
The Blazer or Cardigan: Most of my dresses and many of my tops require a blazer or cardigan for the office both to be appropriately conservative and to keep me warm. Our office dress code does not strictly prohibit sleeveless tops and dresses, but they definitely fall outside the norm. (We touched on the sleeveless top consideration in this earlier edition of Suit Your Style.) This results in a routine conundrum of deciding between the blazer or cardigan to layer over my dress or shirt. Certainly both have many advantages.
Cardigans typically are more comfortable, easier to shove in my bag and carry during my commute (if it’s too hot to wear), and more casual (which may be appropriate depending on my agenda for the day). On the contrary, blazers feel a bit more constricting to me, require a bit more transportation maintenance, and certainly look more professional and sophisticated (so some might ask on a lazy day in the office why I’m so dressed up).
I decided to wear the cardigan today for two reasons. First, I had no client meetings so I spent the majority of my day sitting at my desk pounding away in Excel and my overflowing inbox. I also felt the cardigan better suited the simple jersey dress. (Ultimately, the cardigan proves to be much easier, as I mentioned earlier, so if I’m being honest with myself, the real reason I chose the cardigan probably boils down to laziness.) I think either could work just perfectly. I suppose just the tiniest change from a navy cardigan to a navy blazer gives me two ways to wear this casual weekend dress to work. Nice!
The Slip: While I didn’t need one with this dress because the jersey fabric was thick enough to handle it’s own business, many jersey dresses leave you with underwear lines screaming to be seen. Be sure to take a quick peek at your back side before heading out the door. If any pesky underwear lines seem to be attempting to voice their own opinions, put them to rest with a simple slip under your dress and you’ll be on your way. While others can’t actually see anything, underwear lines are the worst! No one at your office wants to see them. (And if they do, that’s gross!)
So, there you have a jersey dress at work in a nutshell. What do you think? Have you made them work for work? Do you have any special tricks to share to spice up a casual dress to make it perfect for the office? Share in the comments!
Dress – Target; Cardigan – August Silk via Macy’s; Blazer – JCrew (thrifted via Savers); Camisole – Target; Belt – Thrifted via Savers; Shoes – Nine West via DSW; Necklace – vintage; Earrings – Kenneth Cole via Macy’s; Watch – Fossil; Bracelet – Chicago street vendor