Is your wardrobe full of formal work wear from the time when business style was far more dressier than it nowadays is? Predominant IT and start-up culture have molded the way we dress to work a lot in the recent years and suddenly a suit with a pair of heels can feel somewhat stuffy.
But throwing away fine tailoring just feels wrong, and if it still fits then perhaps you could just wear it in a less formal way.
The art of dressing down
Here comes I on Image’s style guide on how to dress things down. You can mix up the elements listed below or just pick one powerful way to express yourself through your style.
- Add a casual shoe. This is the most practical dress-down effect there ever was and hence an all-time favorite of public transport commuters around the world. Your feet will thank you for swapping your vertiginous heels to a comfy sneaker or a cool loafer. There is no longer need to keep a pair of heels in your filing cabinet which I believe they got rid of anyway during the last office remodeling round.
- Add knitwear. I am a big fan of creating contrast by using different textures and playing with proportions. Typically I would use chiffon with tweed or cashmere with leather but the logic can also be applied with tailored pieces in a mid-weight fabric by adding a chunky cable knit jumper. Understated merino wool jumpers go literally with everything and are far more low maintenance than gorgeous cashmere that I would love if I didn’t have kids. Knitwear with a pop of colour combined with tailoring looks also very contemporary and is super wearable.
- Add denim. A high-low combo is a no-brainer that does apply for evening wear too. The contrast between something dressy and cool denim remains a classic styling trick favored by the best dressed everywhere. Easy, practical and stylish way to wear your tailored separates or dresses.
- Add leather. This is just like the tip above but dressier and a more powerful statement. My favorite is to throw a biker jacket on a feminine dress.
- Add a T-shirt. T-shirts with a print or a slogan have been popular for quite some time now and they will make any tailored piece look casual and cool. Just check the appropriateness of the picture/text and that it doesn’t spell something else when worn with a jacket. A safe fail-proof alternative is a stripy or plain, yet well-cut, T-shirt.
Get more out of less
These 5 ways to dress your outfits down will help you get more out of your existing wardrobe without having to transform your style completely. They will also allow you to own less items while having more style -every single day.
Is your problem actually the other way around? Then read my blog about How to Dress Things Up
If you still feel that your formal suits and dresses no longer have a future in your style narrative then consider donating them to your local Dress for Success®, a global movement that aims to “empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life”.
In The Netherlands you can approach www.dressforsuccess.nl.
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