Dress to Impress

First the leaves changed,  then the trees were bare and now snow covers where these colorful leaves once lied. As Minnesotans, we are familiar with the change of seasons. However, we may not realize all the change this means for our professional wardrobes. As you prepare for winter, keep in mind these tips as you head into work or an interview.

1. Say No To Toes

It’s obvious to skip sandals in the winter seasons, but there’s a wider range of opportunities with high heels and flats. Closed toe shoes are preferable for colder months. However, for the workplace this should not include the popular styles of combat boots, cowboy boots or any form of sneaker. Peep-toe shoes (small opening) are also an option, but must be worn with nylons/tights. For dress pants, opt for knee highs.

2. Test Your Textures


For men, winter provides a great opportunity to play around with dress pants. Consider corduroy trousers as an alternative. Darker shades of blue, grey or green give the trousers a more formal look. For women, consider exciting a staple cardigan for a tweed blazer. Velvet pencil skirts are work appropriate and look great in many different colors.

3. Tights vs. Leggings

If you walk on a college campus, you’ll find it’s no secret leggings are being worn as pants. However, I recently heard a debate on the radio of whether tights could be worn as pants. What? Never. To clarify, leggings are black (usually) spandex pants, that fit close to the body from the waist line to the ankle. Tights, or nylons, range from patterned to translucent to opaque and cover the feet. These can be black or many different colors.

Moral of the story, leggings should be used with tops that are a few inches shorter than a dress or skirt. A shirt that goes to one’s hips or the waistband of jeans should not be paired with leggings. Tights should only be used under skirts or dresses, never as bottoms or with tunics. For the workplace, the more opaque the tint and subtle the pattern, the better. If you would wear the dress by itself in a warmer month, opt for tights. If you would be missing a good part of your outfit, lug out the leggings.

4. Avoid The Cold Shoulder shoulder

Throughout the colder seasons, it’s important to have shoulders covered. This may seem like common sense, but it gets a little fuzzy with the trends of lace, mesh and cutouts. Lace items are fantastic, but if the pattern makes the top or dress see through in the arrow red zone pictured here, skip it for the workplace. This also speaks to the cap sleeve- go for it; but realistically, you will probably end up needing a blazer or cardigan for warmth.

5. Ex the Spandex

Playing a little game of “Would I Wear This Out Partying?” while getting ready can go a long way. This seems to be a more common trend in college students, go figure. I often see peers dressing for professional settings in the same body-con skirts and dresses they wear out for a night at the bars. Why would a boss or interviewer want to see their staff in tight outfits fit for a party scene? This looks informal and out of place. When paired with hi-lo dress shirts or long cardigans, this can be less extreme. However, this walks a fine line that must be carefully executed.

These guidelines can sound restrictive or old fashioned, but don’t let wearing nylons with peep toe shoes get your style into a slump. Winter months tend to call for darker, neutral colors. So express yourself with patterned scarves or ties, statement jewelry and trendy shoes or boots. There is plenty of room to include your personal style while being work appropriate!

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