How does your sense of style shine through when your job requires a buttoned-up dress code? Marissa works in politics and communications, a field that requires an ultra-professional appearance (and long hours).
Here, she shares her tips for creating a streamlined, elegant wardrobe—whether you’re presenting to the board or holding Warrior pose.
What’s your daytime work style?
In one word: dresses. Dresses are simple, sleek, and classic. You can dress them up or down depending on your jewelry and accessories (at work, I usually go for pearls). Often all it takes is a blazer and tights to transition them for fall and winter. Dresses are also a great investment—you don’t have to worry about finding a matching top or pants.
How do you take your look from office to evening?
It’s all about the shoes and bold lipstick. I swear by Nine West wedges and heeled, knee-high black boots in winter. As for lipstick, I go between a bright red shade and NARS Super Orgasm gloss, which is a glittery paler pink.
What’s your weekend style?
If I’m not in a dress, I’m probably in gym clothes—Lululemon’s Wunder Under crops are my favorite pants for yoga. I often start my weekend mornings with a workout, and I carry a few staples so I can run errands afterwards: a clean, sporty top; a cute headband (especially Sweaty Band); and Clean & Clear’s blue oil-blotting sheets.
What’s your best piece of personal style advice?
When I started my career after college, I was given the classic bit of wisdom, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Especially because I’ve been told I look young for my age, I've taken that advice to heart. Tahari’s ASL skirt suits are a must-have for big meetings.
See our stylist's picks on the next page.
“Dress for the job you want” is advice that we’ve all heard but it also happens to be great advice! They are words to live by for Marissa, who manages to look chic while adhering to Washington’s polished professional dress code. We show you how to get her look.
1.The Sheath Dress
If you have a conservative job, the sheath dress is a perfect building block for a versatile wardrobe. (As Marissa points out, there’s nothing easier than just throwing on a dress!)
Tahiri by ASL Dress, $89.99, available at macys.com.
2.The Midi Dress
Just because your work style is more buttoned up than not doesn’t mean that you can’t do trends. The midi length dress has been all over runways and it’s a great way to try something new without taking things over the top. If you’re very petite, be mindful of your dress length; if that extra fabric overwhelms your figure, you may want to have your tailor take up the hem a bit.
Zara Wool Dress, $179.00, available at zara.com.
It’s not a sexy subject, but sometimes looking great in a dress has everything to do with what’s going on underneath it. Spanx are your friend. They smooth out any lumps or bumps so that the line of the dress falls exactly as it is intended. There are many styles of shapewear and the style that works for you may depend on exactly what you are wearing. As a starting point, we really like styles that have a high waist and a mid-thigh slimmer.
Spanx High-waist Mid-Thigh Slimmer, $66.00, available at macys.com.
Blazers and jackets are really a no brainer for any work wardrobe. Not only do they keep you warm when there’s a nip in the air but they also help you switch up your looks. While a classic fitted blazer is always a good idea, don’t be afraid to try a looser, slightly boxy jacket like this one. The key is to keep the lines clean. And pay attention to quality tailoring.
Topshop Premium Crepe Bomber Jacket, $80.00, available at topshop.com.
5.The Skirt Suit
Skirt suits are the way to go for Marissa whenever she has a big meeting. Here we give you a couple of options, a more traditional look and then one with a more feminine twist.
7th Ave Suiting Collection Skirt-Side Pleated, $42.95, available at newyorkandcompany.com.
Albert Nipon Tweed Long Sleeve Skirt Suit, $398.00, available at neimanmarcus.com.
Don’t forget about outerwear, especially when you are building a wardrobe around dresses and skirts! Blazers and jackets will take you into fall but by the time winter hits, you are going to need a coat. We like this one for its sharp tailoring and longer length (better to keep those legs warm).
Ralph Lauren Military Wool Blend Long Coat, $425.00, available at nordstroms.com.
There’s nothing worse than the last minute discovery that your only remaining pair of tights is snagged so make sure that you have some on backup! We think that Hue makes great tights at a reasonable price.
HUE Opaque Tights, $9.99, available at macys.com.
9.The Investment Pearls
So let us start by saying that this is not your everyday purchase. But let’s say that you just got a big promotion and you want to splurge on yourself. Or maybe you have a big birthday coming up and someone special is looking for a particularly memorable gift. Pearls are a classic for a reason so if you’re looking for a piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime, this could be it.
Tiffany’s Pearl Necklace, $975.00, available at tiffanys.com.
10.The Red Lip
Different shades are suited to different skin tones but Nars makes some of the best reds out there. We think of a red lip like a fabulous accessory because it can be just what you need to take your look from day to night. A dramatic eye can be a hassle but a red lip is quick and easy.
Nars Lipstick, $26.00, available at neimanmarcus.com.
Dawn Cassidy is a fashion writer, personal stylist, and previously author of the blog Enterloop. She currently is expanding her Personal Styling services and plays host to intimate events in the NYC market. She is a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology.