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Spring Into Style

Need a new work wardrobe? Check out this season's must-have office attire.
March 13, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/191320

Running a business is tough. You're tired, stressed, and that pair of trousers you threw in the laundry basket yesterday is probably going back on you tomorrow. Getting stuck in a fashion slump is easy when you're busy, but let's face it--what you wear and how you present yourself can make a lasting impression on your customers and employees.

To spice up your office wardrobe, we found a team of style experts to put together an easy guide to business-friendly fashion. From casual office wear to client dinners, we've got you covered with Entrepreneur's spring fashion guide.

Men's Styles

Suits
Say goodbye to loose, baggy cuts and broad shoulders. This year's suits create a narrow silhouette that's sharp and modern-looking.

"Business looks are more fitted, but not to the point of making one feel body-conscious," says Mario Bisio, owner of luxury apparel store Mario's.

Men's Fashion - 1Jeff Horowitz, co-founder of DressMonkey, agrees. He cites the following three trends to look for this spring:

Business Looks for Important Meetings
When in doubt, a dark suit always makes a sharp, professional statement.

And while solid colors rule in the boardroom, Bisio says a faint check in the shirt or subtle stripes on suit coats are suitable light touches. He adds that this year's look for ties is a solid color or subtle print.

Men's Fashion - 3Casual Looks
Thankfully today's office attire doesn't necessarily mean a suit and tie.

Men's Fashion - 2Evening Looks for Client Dinners
Client dinners are less formal situations that allow you to be more self-expressive in your clothing choices. According to Horowitz, the predominant spring fashion trend is personalization. Young professionals, in particular, are eager to wear something that says, "I'm different."

Shoes and Accessories
Here's a little secret your female counterparts have known for years: Shoes can make or break any outfit. Invest in at least two pairs of expensive, well-made shoes--a pair that's dressy and pair that's more casual. A good pair of shoes can pull any outfit together and make you look sharp and orderly.

When it comes to choosing shoes and accessories, follow these three rules:

Hair
A good haircut is an investment in style that's worth making.

"To me, it's always interesting when I see men with the mentality that a haircut should be $15," says Julien Farel, celebrity stylist and owner of Julien Farel Salon. "You're going to spend a lot of money on your suit, a lot of money on your car or your house, and then at the same time you're going to be cheap on your hair?"

Farel believes the most important accessory a man can have is his hair.

"You're going to have it for the next 30 days. If you don't like a suit you can change it the next day and it's OK--you don't have to wear it again. For the hair, you can't. You're stuck. Truly, most of the time, you'll look like you have a $15 haircut."

To change your look, find a professional stylist who will give you a cut based on the shape of your head, neck and body. Get the most out of your money by getting a haircut that can go both ways: sleek and conservative during the day, and spiky and trendy for after work.

Women's Styles

Women's Fashion - 1

Business Looks for Important Meetings
This year femininity will rule the boardroom.

"Although a smart black pant suit will always carry confidently, modern dresses with jackets reclaim a place in the boardroom," says Mario Bisio, owner of luxury apparel store Mario's (www.marios.com). "Rounded club collars and shorter, three-quarter sleeved jackets bring a refreshing change to the menswear cuts that have predominated women's business attire."

In addition, here are two more trends to look for:

Women's Fashion - 3Casual Looks
Business casual is not the same as after-work casual. Leave the jeans at home and opt for a comfortable yet pretty dress, instead.

Thankfully, this year's dresses are flattering for just about any body shape. Look for a sleek, A-line dress or shirtdress in a solid color, or a wrap dress in a bold print. Opt for a dress with an appropriate sleeve length, depending on the season, and a fabric that isn't too clingy.

Pair bold colors such as yellow, with classic black and white.

Evening Looks for Client Dinners
"Black is your friend," says Nicole Williams, founder and editor-in-chief of WORKS, a career management brand for women. Supply your wardrobe with black staples such as pants and three-quarter length jackets and skirts, which are clean, classic and always look sophisticated.

Women's Fashion - 2"Basic black pieces can also stretch your clothing budget, because they endure through changing seasons and trends," Williams says. "When you're dressing for a full day of work and cocktails, you can use black basics to take you from day to night." She also suggests swapping your button-down shirt for something more bare and colorful, and adding a pair of earrings and strappy shoes.

Shoes and Accessories
This season's shoes come in a variety of bright colors and bold prints, allowing you to dress up your basic office pieces with a surprise splash of color. Try pairing a bold-colored pump such as red or yellow with charcoal trousers, or an animal-print ballet flat with black pants. Also look for metallics in varying shades to add a fresh new twist and compliment hard-to-match colors like navy and purple.

Women's Fashion - 4Whether you're building your wardrobe or simply looking to update your style, follow these basic commandments of style from Nicole Williams:

Hair
In the business world, hair is your most visible accessory, so it's important to get a cut that fits the image you want to portray.

"There's really no one 'hairstyle' for 2008," says Julien Farel, celebrity stylist and owner of Julien Farel Salon. "A hairstyle is about honing the best of your personality."

Here are two of Farel's favorite ways to get office-ready hair that's young, elegant and fashion-trendy:

1. For long hair: For an easy, classic look, comb a gel spray through your hair and create a very long, low part. Pull everything into a low ponytail and use a flat iron to smooth out the ends. End with a finishing spray for shine to create a very runway look.

2. For short hair: Get a signature haircut. Go for a short bob with bangs, like Katie Holmes', or a trendy bob like Victoria Beckham's. "A lot of women, even as executives, copy these haircuts because they want to still look sleek and sexy, even though they look professional."