I usually find issue with office attire advice from fashion magazines and websites. While the editors have the best intentions, they are so far removed from traditional office environments they can’t truly understand the needs and dress codes of their readers. What works at Hearst Media rarely will work at the corporation in town or the insurance company in the city. Yesterday, Refinery 29 had an article on how to wear sequins to work; I push the sartorial envelope at work on a regular basis and my company has a pretty relaxed dress code yet I wouldn’t dare wear most of their suggestions.
There’s no need to silence your personal style in the office, but you need to remember that you have a job to benefit a company. When you are on the clock, your job is to make your company better and to represent the company in the best manner possible. If you work in a creative field you can likely get away with sequined leggings or a sparkly shift, but for the rest of us it’s rarely appropriate because it’s drawing attention to you the individual, instead of your work and your business.
Yes, I have worn sequins to work in the past, be it a sequined tank or sequined pencil skirt. I am not saying it cannot be done, but the important thing to remember when wearing sequins to work is that you are not there to advertise your fashion sense, but your quality of work. To show respect for your company, it makes sense to tone down your personal style so the business can take the spotlight. While I am offering a few suggestions for daytime office sequins, do check your dress code, consider your peers and even consult HR before bedazzling your next work ensemble.
A sequined tank or shell is the easiest way to incorporate a bit of bling into your work ensemble. However, it’s important to consider color, level of shine, and percentage of sparkle in the outfit. On the left, the gold sequined stripes of the tank take the place of jewelry for an otherwise standard work ensemble. A cardigan with the same color as the base of the tank neutralizes the sequins, a traditional tweed trouser makes it clear you are dressed for work and not play. To the right, I made a more fashion-forward ensemble with slim pants, stiletto heels, and a peplum jacket. This would make a good Day to Play ensemble as you can tuck in the sequined tee and just have a bit peeking out of the jacket for some shine, and then take off the jacket and untuck the tee for a chic Happy Hour ensemble. The point is that the majority of the ensemble and the silhouettes are work-friendly, and the sequins are just an accent.
Sequin sweaters and cardigans seem to be for sale at every mass retailer, but they don’t always look appropriate in a corporate setting. If you counteract the sparkle and shine with traditional work fabrics like wool and tweed it makes it more office-friendly. The outfit on the left uses a sweater that Refinery 29 featured in their piece. Worn as-is with slim trousers would be adorable for a party or Happy Hour, but would be too relaxed and trendy for the office. A crisp white shirt under the sweater tones down the shine, cropped tweed trousers gives the ensemble a collegiate look. Leopard flats keep the ensemble fun and on-trend while not going overboard. The outfit on the right provides an example on how to wear sequin cardigans. Give the look a bit of a retro vibe, stick to darker colors to tone down the sequins, and have the rest of the look conservative with a knee-length skirt and opaque tights. This could also be done with wider-leg trousers.
Sequins on the bottom are a far more difficult style to achieve in the office. When I wore a sequined skirt to work, it had matte sequins, a heavyweight bouclé fabric, and a very traditional silhouette. To wear a sequined skirt to work, it can’t be super shiny, tight, short, or have a front slit. The skirt should be cut to be appropriate in a different fabric, and not be a walking disco ball. On the left, the pewter skirt is a straight and not fitted cut that comes to the knees. The daring skirt is balanced by a conservative black turtleneck sweater and opaque tights. However, the addition of platform booties shows that the sequined skirt is purposeful and not leftover from last night’s party ensemble. The outfit on the right shows how color can make all the difference. If this ensemble was in red or pink it would be completely inappropriate; in classic navy with sophisticated office silhouettes, this ensemble could work for a more fashion-forward firm.
Of course, every office and every woman’s personal style is different. While one woman may look as though she’s heading to Studio 54 in a sequined sweater, another may look downright dowdy in the same garment. When it comes to trendy fabrics and silhouettes, the best thing is to trust your gut. If you think it’s too crazy for your office it likely is.