Tuesday 20th February 2018
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Taking requests: work dresses

A lot of you have questions about how to dress for the office—particularly, it seems, for creative workplaces—and I am at a bit of a disadvantage as to how to answer, as it has been such a long time since I’ve found myself in such a situation. But I do know that when I worked in an office, I found that reaching for a dress in the morning—instead of bothering with separates—simplified matters greatly.And I would totally have gone for this one, because it looks fantastically comfortable and is very chic in a slouchy way.

Polka dots are a little un-serious for a work setting, but the cut of this dress is so clean that I think it works.

Such a great floral, and I’d probably add a cotton cardigan to make it more work-appropriate.

Click through to zoom in on the print here—I think it’s really cool.

Here’s a dress that would work in even the most conservative of offices—yet it still has interesting details.

Again, I’d throw a cardigan (or, even better, a shrunken leather jacket) over this choice.

This is a really good combination of flattering and elegant.


Posted on August 16th, 2017 35 Comments

35 Responses

  1. karen says:

    I hope this does not sound like nails on a chalkboard, but can you do this post sometime with dresses that are not 500 dollars? These are all so lovely–but completely out of reach for me, as a 30something public sector employee.

    I would love to be able to look this nice and pretty at work, but I also have to pay rent and student loans and the million other costs associated with being blown out of the water economically-speaking in 2008 and yet to recover.

    Again, I certainly wish I was like your readers who are able to spend this on clothes, but I am not and while I know this blog is not about me–i am willing to bet there are others who would appreciate lower cost options too!

    • Heather says:

      I feel your (financial) pain; I’m rarely able to afford things posted here either. But I’ll also note that Kim is not a personal shopper. I tend to take her suggestions as merely that – suggestions – and then look on my own for similar options at lower price points. Reading this blog has done a lot to mix up my personal style, which was in a serious rut and needed some mixing up.

      On another note: I’ve also become a huge afficionado of dresses for work and have been getting some great ones from Boden. Their look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (very vintagey-60s mod), but if it works for you, they are well made, machine washable, and don’t wrinkle. Prices are good for the quality, especially on sale.

      • Candy says:

        I agree with both of you. Kim’s options can sometimes be pricey, but like Heather, it gives me ideas of necklines, skirt length, color, style, etc. to look for in other lower-priced versions. It’s like looking at slick home interior makeovers I can’t afford, but are still full of good ideas.
        I also agree about Boden. Some of the prints are a bit much, but others are classics, come in a range of sizes and the sale section can yield some bargain gems.

      • Linda says:

        I sympathize, as an ‘expensive’ dress to me is anything over $50! I am often a little heartbroken when I click on the links and see the price. I do sew some of my own clothes, so I try to think of them more as an inspiration as Heather mentioned. But, I’d always be up for a more affordable (to me) dress post!

      • Lee says:

        I rarely buy clothes at full price so when I really love one of Kim’s picks I’ll set up an online sale shopping alert so I get notified when the price drops. It might or might not be there in your size, but they do get more affordable when they’re 50-75% off.

      • karen says:

        I promise, I am not expecting Kim to be my personal shopper or to post only things that are applicable to me and to my life–that would be ridiculous!

        Thanks for the Boden suggestion, I will check that out.

        I also agree–this is a great blog for a starting point and inspiration, but sometimes it is just a stone cold bummer that only rarely is anything on here that would be just just just right, something I can actually afford.

    • Debra K says:

      Same here. Out of my price range, but I do appreciate getting ideas and inspiration! I can sometimes get lucky at Zara and Topshop and can only dream of those Zero+Maria Carnejo dresses…

    • Laurel says:

      You’re not alone Karen. This post happened to remind me of a dress I just ordered from H&M. Similar necklines, sleeve length etc. http://www.hm.com/us/product/76074?article=76074-A

  2. KHD says:

    Just got the first Vince dress a couple of weekends ago and LOVE it. It is hand washable and with pockets. It took me a little time to figure out the best way to tie it but once I did I loved the slouch-y chicness of it, I call it a “sexy granny dress”. It was pricey but it will last a long time if I don’t wear a hole through it first! In NYC humidity it will work well. I also got the Vince floral printed cami dress (no pockets) which is perfect for day (with Birks or sneakers) or night.

    And I agree with Heather that Kim’s posts can inspire the look even if one can’t afford the original item.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Many people, even with the means, wouldn’t spend this much on a dress but cost per wear is a consideration. As someone who balances budget with an honest effort to avoid fast, poor quality fashion, I try to buy less but better pieces. My efforts have led me to consignment shops, online resale sites and small, independent sites like the one linked below, in addition to waiting for sales/promotions. The dresses above are all lovely and serve as inspiration for an easy, put together look!

    • Eloise says:

      Thank you for that link. Some of these dresses are calling my name VERY loudly. (I’d also wear almost all of Kim’s selections today if I could afford them.)

    • Jenny says:

      Related, the posts can serve as guide to brands you might want to look for on Ebay, TheRealReal, consignment, etc. That’s the only way I can afford Zero+Maria Cornejo (and sometimes not even then). Also, as @Suzanne mentioned, these posts help me see more affordable options with new eyes. For example, I usually don’t love Eileen Fisher, but if I saw a dress of hers in one of these shapes (which is not unlikely) and it was on sale, I’d try it.

    • Comic Sansa says:

      Thanks for that link to New Classics: I didn’t know that store. I instantly saw something I liked and then realized I already own it! (Kowtow Building Block Wrap Dress. It’s excellent and I highly recommend Kowtow all around.) But the store is definitely getting bookmarked.

  4. Gilli Treiman says:

    Rebecca Taylor has a great sale with extra 30% off today. Someone buy this dress , so work appropriate!


  5. Prof says:

    There’s not too much difficulty finding beautiful clothes when price is not a factor. I would admire the skill set of anyone who can find and put together stylish outfits at a price the bottom 80% of us can afford.
    Nonetheless I look at this site as a guide for what’s not “too young” in current fashion for a 50-yr-old woman to wear.

  6. KimFrance says:

    I’m sorry so many of you were annoyed by the prices in this post. I usually strive for a mix of price points—and I will point out there was one dress from Mango included that was well-priced. But there should have been more. Will do my best to bring you a corrective post some time in the near future.

    • karen says:

      HI Kim–

      I want to be clear: not annoyed at all! I promise, my intent and words were carefully chosen to convey that it is not annoyance, not at all! Like the other comments, it is such fun to have found this corner of the internet for inspiration.

      There’s so many levels to this sort of thing (at least in my opinion) I want to have a minimal wardrobe made up of pieces that are not “fast fashion,” and I want to support designers who make beautiful things that fit women as we are, not in that aspirational if only i lost more weight sort of way– but the reality of not having the sort of reserves to do that–no matter how sensibly I live (and believe me, it is beyond sensible) can be frustrating. That frustration, isn’t directed at you–I want to make that clear!

      Thanks for the mango inclusion–it is appreciated.

    • suz says:

      Just saw this – its not you – the price thing. I realized this shopping. I thought I was over any clothing, everything left me …meh. And then realized that the only nice stuff was $$$$. It may well be impossible to find good wearable (covetable) dresses at a normal affordable price. That aren’t made of plastic

      The fashion industry hates us it seems.

      Thank you for finding these. It’s nice that they exist. Seriously.

      • Linda says:

        Also wanted to chime in that I was not annoyed either, just wistful! I appreciate your most recent post with more affordable pieces but also certainly understand having expensive taste! Your choices are great inspiration no matter what and, like Karen, I’m just excited when they are something that I could afford as well.

      • Linda says:

        Just wanted to chime in that I wasn’t annoyed either, just wistful! I’m on such a limited budget but certainly understand having expensive taste, and love seeing all sorts of brands on here that I’ve never heard of before. I do always appreciate when something I love is someone I can conceivably buy, but didn’t mean my comment as a criticism of you, more–like Karen–of the struggles of affording nice, well and ethically-made pieces.

  7. Romey says:

    I wear dresses to work as it’s easy to accessorize, I have many dresses in black and I spend my money on scarves and statement necklaces and shoes. A well cut back dress with quality materials are easy to find for a good price point, you just need to look around. I work in finance and dresses work well for me since I think wearing a suit is too boring, I do buy a ton of blazers that usually pull my dresses together for more formal meeting days!

  8. suz says:

    1. it’s nice to know someone(s) is making normal wearable non see thru dresses
    2. sad that the only normal clothes are $$$. WTH fashion?

  9. Debra says:

    How about this? How about the retailers in the more reasonably-priced range start doing some dresses like these? Seems to me that those retailers are still stuck in the fitted mini-dress stage or similar. Obviously there’s a market for grown-up dresses at a reasonable price.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      I agree, Debra! Does it really take THAT much effort to make a garment with some style vs. the same ol’ same ol’?!? (Maybe it does, Idk)

  10. Sara says:

    I hold my breath before looking at the comments whenever Kim posts something readers deem expensive. This blog doesn’t claim to be strictly budget related and I’m sure many women would consider buying these dresses, whether as a splurge treat, as a lucky sale find or just because they can afford them and don’t mind paying these prices. I’m a single mom of a certain age and am trying to figure out how to save for retirement while putting my daughters through college. I was not born wealthy, and my life and career choices have done nothing to alter that situation. But to me, the tone of some of these comments, complaining because Kim dare include $500 dresses in a post, often seems like just another form of shaming and I find it off putting.

  11. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    I think I would be happy with my wardrobe forever if all of my dresses were shaped like the one by VINCE!!! 🙂

  12. Emily M. says:

    I love this website, and I never mind when the clothes are expensive. I just bide my time and wait for something similar to come through my favorite thrift store, Philly AIDS Thrift.