In the year of Gorpcore, Scandinavian Minimalism, and an unexpected resurgence of ‘that stuff they wore in Clueless’, it can be easy to lose sight of the basic fashion foibles that plague our everyday lives.
It can be tricky for the office-bound woman, corporate employee, dress-code abider, or mom with PTA meetings on her slate to stay chic in every setting without downtime to build and execute an evening outfit.
Check out our guide on how to make an outfit go from desk to dinner while keeping it fresh and appropriate in almost any setting (excluding high-altitude hikes, deep-sea fishing, and the Oscars).
Step One: Choose your base.
Picture the classic Little Black Dress in your head. You know—crew neck, maybe even boat neck if you’re feeling fun. Sleeveless. Hits just above the knees and is well fitted. This is the LBD that was pioneered by Coco Chanel nearly a century ago as something versatile, timeless, and affordable.
The winning concept of the LBD can become a Little Dress of Any Color (or material). Don’t be afraid to embrace vivid hues and fun embellishments. This will ensure that you’ve chosen a piece with enough flair to it that you’ll be happy when you’re wearing it to drinks and dinner after a long day at the office.
Step Two: Choose your armor.
Workplace armor comes with variety: suit jackets, blazers, cropped jackets, boho cardigans. This—along with the key accessories we’ll detail below—will be doing the heavy lifting for your daytime look. At work, embrace the armor. At night, stow it somewhere safe and show your shoulders.
But what piece to pick? The trusted blazer has been a staple for decades in every iteration.
However, 2018 has updated the blazer in a spectacular way, which may seem like an odd thing to say about a staple that never really left. As the women’s power suit is making a sudden resurgence in the workplace, blazers have morphed from utilitarian items back into statement pieces, albeit with (thankfully) a little less padding than before.
Step Three: Top your gams.
What to wear on your feet, the real MVPs of a long day? Put down those stilettos. They look great, but in order to make this method work and really not have to stop at home or bring a duffel bag to the office, you have to choose the shoes that are twelve-hour-comfy and clubworthy at the same time. Booties, boots, heeled sandals, and are all excellent choices, provided that you select a modern variation with elegance.
Despite some limitations on the more ankle-breaking styles, you have a lot of flexibility with choosing a shoe, which means a lot more room to commit a fashion-faux pas that will leave you wishing for a different getup.
When you’re putting an outfit together, check on a few things: Do your shoes look good with the blazer-and-dress combo? Do they work when you shed that blazer for your evening look? Are they working with your day and night accessories?
We’ll get to those accessories in a minute, but first, a few options that can work in numerous settings:
Step Four: Finishing touch.
Adding a little pop and polish with well-chosen accessories is the only change your outfit requires to take it to evening perfection. In the day, a simple watch or necklace works well for understated accessorizing. For night looks, take advantage of the vintage-ish earring revival, and go truly bold with a glamorous and gloriously funky statement piece.
You’ve got your base, blazer, booties, and earrings. Now that you’re the epitome of modern style and classic elegance (and have rendered yourself blister-proof with positive shoe choices), put on some tights and grab a red lipstick. Apply at 5:01pm...and have a wonderful night!
- Choose a dress with a classic silhouette and an area of interest, such as a pop of color or a fun material.
- Pair with this year’s take on the blazer. Don’t be afraid to embrace quirky cuts and unusual patterns.
- Invest in some shoes that are both comfortable and drinks-worthy like strappy clogs or booties.
- When work ends and the evening begins, swap out your watch for statement earrings.