Business Casual: Working the Silhouette of the Sweater Dress

by Rachel Yeomans | January 28th, 2010   

By Huma Rashid

As far as workplace attire, a girl could model herself off of someone far worse than Blaire Waldorf of hit television series Gossip Girl. Her looks are part New York chic and part Catholic schoolgirl, and very often work -appropriate…once they’re toned down, that is. Take this ensemble:

wwblaire Business Casual: Working the Silhouette of the Sweater Dress

What I love here is the silhouette. We’ve got this high, lacy dress in a lovely, soft oatmeal color, and we’ve got the actress’s shapely legs in a pair of black tights with heels – just a lovely, stark contrast that’s high on drama and softened by the brown capelet and bag.

I didn’t attempt to recreate this exact look, obviously, because I would never send any of my terples to work in a super short dress, looking like they charge by the hour (even though some of you probably do charge by the hour….What?! I meant that you were lawyers, slaving away for the billable hour! Jeez! Touchy today!). But I did want to recreate this great, dramatic contrast with the soft oatmeal and the black.

ww4 Business Casual: Working the Silhouette of the Sweater DressShort Sleeve Sweater Dress in Vanilla Bean Heather ………. $19.99
Suede Ankle Boot in Black ………. $24.80
Deco Tights in Black ………. $19
Metal Handle Clutch in Black ………. $30

The sweater dress is much longer than Blaire’s, thankfully, but unfortunately doesn’t have the interesting black accents. Whatever. I like this dress a ton and it fits with our budget. It is, of course, from Victoria’s Secret, which you already knew if you recognized Alessandra Ambrosia. God, I’m kinda jealous of that skinny girl – apparently, she had a baby less than a year ago. I’m sorry, but that is not natural. I mean, it’s AWESOME for her because she’s already gorgeous and looks amazing post-baby, but normal women don’t bounce back anywhere near as fast as that. Unfair! I call shenanigans!

Fortunately, this is not a fussy or complicated look; it’s very easy to pull off and the result is pretty darn stylish. The sweater dress is long enough to be appropriate for work, and the color is pretty and the knit is distinctive without being an ugly, in-your-face chunky, and it’s sure to be soft and warm because all of Victoria’s Secret’s sweater dresses are. I’ve lost count of how many I own.

I paired the dress with a pair of decorated tights. I didn’t want to go with the ones with vines or very clear seams, because that seemed too provocative for a work place. Although, now that I mention it, this is kind of hit or miss, too. Maybe your office is more traditional and conservative and you know you can only wear black tights. Maybe the tights with vines and designs are totally acceptable at your workplace; I have no way of knowing. Use your own judgment on this one, folks.

Just to be safe, I went with these thicker black ones with a very light design that doesn’t catch your eye immediately. I added a metal-handle black clutch that I think is pretty sleek, and both items come from one of my new favorite stores, Lori’s in Chicago. She always has cute stuff from her trips to Europe (shoes, handbags, tights) at pretty decent prices.

Finally, I went with a pair of suede booties from Forever21. They’re understated but stylish, and, unlike a lot of Forever21′s stuff, the design is clean and polished. I rely on Forever21 more for layering things, like tanks and camisoles, and also for cheap bags, but I’m rather pleased with these shoes.

And there we have it, a Blaire-Waldorf-inspired, office-appropriate ensemble!


@theworkwardrobe It is a great look, just make sure that the dress isn't too short for work! It could be a distraction...


@theworkwardrobe It is a great look, just make sure that the dress isn't too short for work! It could be a distraction...