Overdoing it is the biggest mistake people make with winter work attire, said Rachael Hammarback owner of R.H. Standard in Grand Forks.
While the temperatures may be below freezing, that doesnt mean bulky layers, sweatshirts and winter coats are acceptable in the workplace, Hammarback said. Regardless of the weather, employers expect their workers to arrive looking professional and pulled together.
Hammarback said with business jackets, scarves, tights and booties, women can create a work-appropriate look that will keep them warm through cold winter days at the office.
For a typical day at work, Hammarback suggested a weighty legging or a long-sleeve dress with a jacket.
She styled her sister-in-law, Jodi Green, in a black legging and a gray blazer. She finished the look with a brown boot and a warm olive green scarf.
Green, who is a first-grade teacher at Century Elementary School in Grand Forks, said she typically wears dress slacks and sweaters to work, but leggings would be a nice change.
Hammarback noted that not all leggings are appropriate for the workplace. She said thick structured leggings like the ones from BCBG work because they are weighty.
It has a zipper and a button. It absolutely alleviates (any worries), she said, adding that its important that a legging still holds one together like a typical pant. Inexpensive cotton and elastic leggings are OK for lounging at home, but theyre not appropriate for the workplace, Hammarback said.
People mistake leggings and tights sometimes, she said. Tights are not pants.
When Hammarback asked Green whether shed be able to wear these leggings in the classroom, Green said, Absolutely, yes.
But leggings arent for everyone.
For her friend, Amy Enget, who prefers dresses to pants, Hammarback chose a striped long-sleeve dress by BCBG. Pairing the dress with a denim jacket and knee-high boots, she created a winter-appropriate everyday look for the office. For extra warmth, Hammarback said a navy blue opaque tight would be really cute with this. Or, a high smart-wool sock would, as well.
As an executive at Midcontinent Communications, Enget said the look would be perfect for a commercial shoot with clients.
If I have a commercial shoot, I need to be in something a little bit more casual, so Im able to assist, she said. I dress for my day, and I dress based on the people that I see.
Step up the style
Whether its for a meeting with clients, a visit from the CEO or a year-end presentation, there are days when one needs to step it up a bit in the style department. For these special work occasions, Hammarback suggested a more high-profile look.
She styled Enget in a blue paneled dress and a black blazer. She finished the look with a statement necklace, a patterned tight and a black bootie.
Shes doing a bootie with a heel, but you could do the same outfit with a boot or a wedge, Hammarback said. The heel height is to your discretion.
She said Enget is comfortable walking around in a heel, so thats typically what she chooses. On the other hand, a lower heel or flats are generally more appealing to Green, who spends most of the day on her feet.
Hammarback said the look would be perfect for a day of client meetings or parent-teacher conferences for Green.
Its a little more high-profile, she said. Because the dress, the textures, the color its like an updated power suit, if you will.
Another high-profile option is weighty leggings paired with a structured jacket.
Hammarback styled Greens leggings with a bold winter-white jacket. She finished the look with a low bootie.
This is lovely, she said. This to me is how you make a legging look sophisticated. She would probably wear this for conferences or a school board meeting.
Again, Hammarback stressed that one has to be careful when styling leggings for the workplace. She said the same leggings wouldnt be appropriate without the jacket because the overall look would be too skin tight.
When it comes to accessories, Hammarback said most dont change with the weather. A weighty statement necklace works well throughout the year.
Heavy pieces of necklace and collars are very in right now, she said.
Like jewelry, scarves are also trendy year-round. But the weight and fabric of scarves does change with the seasons. For winter, Hammarback suggested a cashmere, wool or pashmina scarf that will add extra warmth and texture.
Other accessories such as tights and boots are obviously specific to the colder months. Hammarback said a black or gray tight with some kind of pattern is great for the office.
And Im not talking about nylons. Lets get way out of the 80s, she said. No one wants to wear nylons.
As far as shoes, Hammarback said boots and booties are a great finish to work attire.
Im a sucker for a bootie, right now, especially with leggings, she said.
Riding boots, a heeled boot or flats work in the winter as well.
Hammarback said be smart and practical with your accessories and jackets. If ones meeting is down the street, its OK to arrive bundled up in a winter coat, hat and mittens, she said.
Hammarback said it all comes down to practicality and ones personal style.
Wear what youre comfortable with, Hammarback said. But dont overdo it.