At SoSensational Towers, we’ve been discussing the perfect work dress for a mature woman over 50.
Interestingly, our younger staff members – all female – want almost the same from a work dress as Cyndy and Jan.
So here’s a list of the attributes for the perfect work dress that we all agreed on:
- Sleeves: We all like sleeves in a work dress.
- Or, if the dress doesn’t have sleeves, it should either sit comfortably under a jacket or a cardi or should be able to accommodate a shirt or jumper, such as a Pini Dress. We have written about the Pini Dress in a blog about some of A/W16’s er, dafter trends – though we did say that a Pini Dress could work for the office for a 50-plus woman, provided it was long enough and, we should add now, not too reminiscent of a school gym-slip…
- If the dress doesn’t have sleeves and needs to stay under a jacket all day, it can’t be too bulky.
- Colour is important. Black obviously features high on the list of desirable colours for a work dress, but other dark neutrals such as chocolate, charcoal and navy were also popular, as are the season’s fashion colours –burgundy and paprika. Generally dark colours were seen as vital for a work dress, especially if your commute to work involves public transport.
- Fabric – our informal poll at the SoSensational offices drew a request for washable fabric where possible.
- Checks, plaids, stripes and even prints were requested provided the print looked appropriate for office wear.
- Dresses to go from desk to dinner were also on the list, so they’re definitely on our Top 12.
- We all love this shapely, short-sleeved sheath dress from Hugo Boss. Available in navy or black, it has a narrow belt to emphasise your waistline. Just add a flat or low-heeled court to wow your colleagues with your elegance and efficiency.
- This, 60s-inspired dress from M&S is just perfect for the office. We love its big pockets and the fact that it’s available in two perfectly on-trend colours: burgundy and paprika as well as black. To add to the 60s vibe, you could rock this frock with a pair of high boots, possibly in suede, or a low-heel court shoe. You could also transform it for off-duty wear by winding a long, skinny scarf round your neck.
- This double silk georgette knee-length dress from Joseph, is a bit pricier at £395, but with it you get the definitive desk-to-dinner dress, and a dress you could wear to attend a glam party as well as the office. For the office, wear that tie-neck loosely looped, plus opaques and flat shoes or boots, then for going out tie it in a pussy-bow and add heels and maybe a crystal-embellished clutch. Emphasise those beautiful wide sleeves with a some oversized cocktail rings and draw attention to the bow neckline and shoulder detail with knock-out statement earrings.
- We love a frock that does great things for a body, but in a cleverly subtle way; this chain detail dress in a gorgeous garnet hue from Reiss does just that. It’s a beauty for business with black opaques and flat shoes or ankle boots and a black tote. Then swap for heels and a little cross-body bag (perhaps in a paint-box bright shade) plus statement necklace or earrings and you have yourself a sassy going-out dress!
- This Phase Eight tunic dress in a low-key black-and-green stripe is a clever and versatile work choice. For us over 50 women, pair it with leggings or jeggings plus ankle boots both for work and weekends. Then take it up a notch for off-duty wear with a pretty scarf or necklace, and some bracelets to highlight those gorgeous (and oh-so-flattering) bracelet-length sleeves.
- We love the swingy skirt, the very nice and long, swingy skirt, on the Hattie dress from Boden. If you prefer to cover your arms, this flatteringly cut sleeveless dress – available in navy or black – can be paired with a jacket or a cardi, perhaps in a contrasting bright or a print to avoid the issue of precisely matching navy or black. Then pair with ribbed tights and flats for the working week and mid-heel courts or high-heel boots, plus statement jewellery for weekends. And don’t forget, because it’s from Boden, it’s available up to size 22 and in regular and long lengths.
- The Tasha dress from Hobbs has been crafted in luxurious navy-blue wool spun at one of the UK’s last woollen mills. It has a striking windowpane check in red, a key colour for the new season. The A-line silhouette, curved waist seam and darted bodice make this dress supremely flattering to the figure. Its scooped neckline means you could put a crisp shirt or a fine-knit roll-neck jumper under it, instead of a jacket or cardi over the top.
- Hush was a new brand for us, and new to John Lewis but as soon as we saw it, we fell for its clever concept – stylish pieces that can be worn in lots of different ways. The Silvie dress from Hush in perfectly on-trend burgundy/maroon/beetroot is a perfect example. Lovely soft fabric, great cut, long sleeves and nice and long… Pair it with a leather belt, dark tights and flats for work, then rock it for weekends with, er, leather belt, dark tights and flats. Or maybe boots with a heel, and some jewellery and a scarf!
- We love this colour-block shift from Dorothy Perkins, with its pop of cobalt and flash of white. Pair with ballerina flats for the office and add high courts for going out. For work, cover up with a jacket or cardi in black, or one that maybe picks up on the blue. This is another good desk-to-dinner dress only requiring a small bag; dressier pumps and some jewels!
- This black, block-colour dress from The Collection at Debenhams has all the attributes we want in a work dress for A/W: simple, elegant,with sleeves and versatile. And that little flash of red provides a welcome pop of colour. Style with flat boots (knee-high or ankle boots) plus black opaques for work, and wear it for weekends the same way, maybe with a long scarf. Then, for going out just add some bold jewellery and, naturally, a smaller bag…
- We know you working ladies will really love this high-neck Reena Tunic dress from Monsoon with its stylish half-length sleeves. Designed with flattering contouring seams, with an easy, comfortable fit, it’s finished with front pockets. Style it with loafers, black sneakers or low-heel courts to make it perfect for the office.
- And now for something a little bit different! We like a jumpsuit for the office and this one in pinstripe with long sleeves from Jaeger could never be mistaken for a party jumpsuit. Tailored from ultra-soft virgin wool with just the right amount of stretch, it features a tie belt for definition at the waist. We think it looks especially cool with sneakers but could be paired with loafers or flat ankle boots for a stunning business vibe..
Do you have any more attributes you look for in your workwear dresses? We’d love to add to the list!
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