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How to Get the Most Out of Your Summer Work Dresses

By Bridgetteraes @BridgetteRaes
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I love a dress in the summer.  They’re easy, colorful, comfortable and cool.  They’re also perfect for work.  Zip them up and you’re done.  In today’s wear-to-work series, I am going to show you how to get the most out of your summer work dresses.

While it would be nice to have an endless closet of dresses for the office, few have an unlimited budget for such an extravagance.  And, really, who wants that?  Most woman want to be able to do more with less.  There are a few key things to keep in mind in order to create versatility with your dresses.  Here are my tips.

#1- Keep it simple

The first, slightly obvious, tip is to keep it simple.  Avoid really tricky necklines, fussy sleeves or a lot of details on the bodies of the dresses.  These types of dresses are totally fine to have, but have a few that are a bit cleaner in appearance so you can do more with them.  You’ll see why in the outfits below.

#2- Load up on accessories

Remember the rule, spend 25% of your wardrobe budget on accessories.  To get the most out of your basic dresses, multiple accessory options are crucial.  You don’t need a lot to do a lot, accessories are season-less, and you can wear accessories multiple times a week.

#3- Look for prints with multiple colors or in shades that are easy to add accents

Solids are undoubtedly the most versatile summer work dresses, however, this does not mean that you can do a variety of things with printed dresses.  There are a few things to keep in mind that will help.

  • First, look for prints that have a variety of colors.  The more colors you can pull out of one print to use as accent colors through your accessories, the more options you will get from one dress.
  • The alternative is to look for a print that you can treat as a solid.  For example, a black and white polka dot dress can be treated like a solid black dress and accessorized with a variety of colors, a green print dress can be popped with just about any accent color (which you will see below), and tonal prints (shades of one color in one dress) can be treated like a solid.

#4- Try to make at least three different looks using one dress

My last tip is to take one dress and style it a few different ways, a minimum of three is a great start.  Instead of wearing one dress just one way, seeing your dress as a base for a variety of accessories will get you more with less.

How to get the most out of your summer work dresses

Here are three dresses and a few accessories.  With just these pieces, I am going to create nine different outfits.

summer work dresses
Outfit #1

What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Look 1

In this first outfit I am using a super versatile dress from Reiss.  What looks like a skirt and top is actually a dress.  There are a few benefits to a dress like this.  First, no tucking the top into the skirt (halleluiah) and, second, it is a perfect base on which to create anything you want.  Seriously, go nuts.  On it’s own the dress is rather boring and it is likely you will get tired of it in no time if you don’t do something interesting with it.

In the outfits above I give you three options.  First, the outfit is styled with a yellow Zara blazer, nude Cole Haan pumps, a soft blue handbag and navy earrings.  In the next outfit, for a softer look, I added a tan linen cardigan from J. Crew, the same shoes and earrings as in the first look and a long gold necklace from Stella & Dot.  The outfit is popped with a purple handbag.  Lastly, for a more conservative outfit, I added a navy and ivory Boden blazer, navy Geox pumps, a tan handbag by Lauren Ralph Lauren and green stud earrings for a small splash of conservative workplace color.  Three completely different looks using one dress.

Outfit #2

What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Look 2

Here is a versatile red dress from Modcloth.  Sleeves can be so hard to come by so I was happy to feature this piece.  Using some pieces I used before I styled the first look using the same Zara handbag and J. Crew cardigan, only this time added a pair of Boden sandals in cognac, and bib necklace from Stella & Dot.   Next, in the second look, I added a turquoise belt, the same tan handbag as in the first group of looks, the nude pumps again and the same long gold necklace.  Lastly, in the third outfit, the same navy and cream Boden blazer is used, along with the navy Geox pumps, navy stud earrings, tan handbag and, for a finish a gold and navy bracelet.

Outfit #3

What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Look 3

The third dress is a printed dress because I wanted to show that prints can be just as versatile as a solid dress.  Using this green printed dress from Boden, I am using it tonally as a green solid.  Because green is such a versatile color, there are so many colors that work with it.  In the first look, I styled the outfit with the navy Geox pumps, green stud earrings and, for a splash of color, the purple handbag.  In the next look, I added the yellow Zara blazer again, the soft blue handbag, the nude pumps, turquoise belt and the Stella & Dot bib necklace.  Lastly, adding tones of brown, I added the same linen cardigan from J. Crew, the tan sandals, long necklace, navy earrings and tan handbag.

Still shopping for summer work dresses?

Here are some to check out.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Summer Work Dresses
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