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The new 3 rules of office dressing for women

12 Oct 2019

Country Road | Linen Pocket Blazer and Tailored Wide Leg Pant


Over the next few years, it’s projected that female employment in Australia will outpace that of their male counterparts1, while a flurry of entrepreneurial spirit has seen more than a third of women now at the helm of their own business2. Gone are the days of working nine-to-five in a strictly corporate, hot desking, open-office environment. Companies like WeWork are revolutionising the traditional office space. And with it, the modern office dress code. 


Today, the changing nature of work favours a business-casual approach over the more formal, resulting in greater wardrobe freedom. What used to be a restrictive women’s work wear formula of shirts and skirts has diversified dramatically. “Typically, women look for a ‘uniform’ when it comes to work,” says one of Sydney’s top stylists, Carol Sae-Yang. With has over 20 years of fashion experience Carol can attest that “the modern workplace has evolved, and as a result, the definition of corporate style.”


Today, injecting personality into your office attire is easier than ever. However, there’s a fine line between style freedom and maintaining a high level of professionalism: you want to be noticed for all the right reasons in the workplace.


These are the new rules of women’s corporate work wear:


#1 Suits are not expected

Suits for women will always be an office wear classic, but they’re not what they used to be. It’s no longer about fitting in: it's about taking risks and feeling confident. In same-hue pairings a matching blazer and trousers strikes a perfect balance, while cropped-pant suits nail the business-casual brief: with their relaxed fit, they’re both approachable and professional. For a modern take on a sharp suit look to the inclusion of a belted suit jacket. “Move away from traditional suiting fabric to keep it contemporary,” advises Carol. “Trade in the typical women’s business suit for organic linen, velvet, or even a metallic silk jacket. Above all, whatever you decide on, always ensure the style and proportion suits your body shape.”


#2 Black isn’t always best

Don’t get lost in an office full of black. Instead of dark staples, embrace fresh neutral tones such as beige or olive green. They’re equally as smart, yet beautifully unexpected. Worn head-to-toe, monotone makes a striking statement.


Colour is also a powerful asset in your wardrobe – it has the ability to boost your mood and confidence. Thirty-five-year-old Sydney journalist and presenter, Antoinette Lattouf, uses colour to inject personality into her work wardrobe. “You can be unique, a little colourful, yet still embody intelligence and authority,” she says. In addition to wearing shades that make you feel confident, you can strategically use colour to influence people’s perception of you. Wear a high-contrast combination of light and dark pieces when you want to emanate authority; or soften your style palette with low-contrast hues to appear more approachable to fellow team members. If colour is a scarce commodity in your office, simply pick one statement piece and build your outfit around it.


#3 Make your style work for you 

It’s not just the rules that have changed, our lifestyles have, too. Our clothing needs to be intelligently curated to meet the demands of our daily schedules – which often includes transitioning from school drop-offs to the office, then on to after-dark drinks. “The modern woman’s lifestyle is intertwined with work, so her clothes need to move her seamlessly from one environment to another,” explains Carol. Versatile pieces, such as blazers, can sharpen a summer dress in an instant and can be mixed and matched with both work and weekend pieces. Wardrobe heroes like these give you flexibility to transform your outfit at a moment’s notice. 


Carefully selected additions can open up a whole new set of outfit options. Discover how to make your office attire work harder for you today. Book a personal Style Session at QVB with one of Sydney’s leading stylists, Carol Sae-Yang at