How To Make Your Workwear More Feminine

Traditional workwear tends to be very masculine. Think stiff collared shirts, boxy suits, and heavy briefcases. If you work in an office, you may feel like you have to choose between being professional and being stylish, but balancing the two is definitely possible.

By Hana Tilksew3 min read

As Blair Waldorf once said, fashion “shows the world who we are and who we’d like to be.” For those of us who take our personal style very seriously, it’s second nature to express ourselves through our clothes on the weekend or off the clock, but the workday can make that more difficult. After all, how can you stay true to your own sense of whimsy while also coming off as a serious professional? The answer chiefly depends on the setting of your workplace, whether it’s casual, conventional, or creative.

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In a Casual Workplace

If you work in a very laid-back setting without much of an enforced dress code, it can be easy to slip into apathy toward your wardrobe. After all, if everyone else is coming to the office in their old T-shirts and jeans, why shouldn’t you? But at Evie, we believe in the philosophy that when you look good, you feel good. Taking the effort to dress yourself with purpose every morning can shift your entire mood and positively impact your productivity. What’s five extra minutes putting an outfit together when those five minutes can completely transform the rest of your day?

That being said, you don’t want to go too far and be extremely overdressed. Instead, you want to wear the same sort of everyday basics that everyone else does, but with an elevated twist. Slightly tweaking the silhouette of a casual staple, or looking for it in a higher quality fabric, can completely transform its effect on the eye. The outfits below, posted by influencer Thérèse Hellstrom (@tesshell) and model Kelsey Merritt (@kelseymerritt), follow the same formula as a T-shirt with pants. However, little tweaks make the looks come across as slightly more presentable and stylish: the feminine shape of the tops, the sophisticated flare of the jeans, and the tasteful touches of jewelry.

You can create a similarly casual and feminine look by pairing these Free People jeans with this Lucky Brand top or this button-up blouse. You’ll be both comfortable enough to feel relaxed and stylish enough to feel confident.

If you work from home and would prefer to wear something more breathable than jeans, then a simple, non-constricting dress will be your best friend. This Quince midi dress and this Vineyard Vines tie-front dress are cute enough that you’ll feel polished, but laid-back enough that you won’t feel like you’re wearing a costume in your own house. If you’re more of a loungewear kind of girl, you’ll love this two-piece set from Amazon.

In a Conventional Workplace

If your job takes place in a business formal environment that expects you to be simultaneously serious and presentable, you probably can’t get away with bright colors or loud prints. Though it can be tricky to channel your femininity within these restrictions, it’s not impossible.

An Instagram reel posted by style influencer Georgia Phasey (@georgiaphasey) brims with spring inspo for neutral, inconspicuous outfits that still have a touch of feminine charm.

To pull off a similarly preppy yet sophisticated look, invest in a wardrobe of reliable basics you can rotate together, like these J. Crew trousers and this Hawes & Curtis elbow-length shirt. You can build on these basic silhouettes by adding layers that emphasize the feminine form, like this belted Michael Kors coat or this By Design wrap cardigan.

Belted silhouettes are great for emphasizing an hourglass figure if you have one, but if you want to create one, peplum tops are a worthwhile investment. The peplum top may get a lot of flak these days for how overdone it’s been in the last decade, but the peplum options of today aren’t nearly as dramatic as they were in the early-to-mid 2010s. This Karen Millen top and this Banana Republic tank create the illusion of curves without being too in-your-face for the workplace.

In a Creative Workplace

If you work in a creative industry that gives you more room to play with fashion while on the clock, lucky you! But even if you might have more sartorial freedom than someone working at, say, a law firm, that doesn’t mean you should throw all professionalism to the wind. The line between fun workwear and party attire can be dangerously thin if you don’t exercise caution, and no one wants to look like they just left the club while at the office.

So, how can you look youthfully chic and seriously professional at the same time? While adding playful touches to your work attire, try to incorporate at least one element of traditional business wear, whether it’s through silhouette, color, or some other element. That way, instead of dressing for one extreme, you’ll strike a delicate balance.

The look below, posted by influencer Kit Keenan (@kitkeenan), is playful in terms of color and texture but subdued in terms of silhouette. It’s interesting and expressive, but not so wildly out there that your boss would have trouble taking you seriously.

The look below, posted by fashion editor Lilah Ramzi (@lilahramzi), is bold in shape and pattern but neutral in color. The black and white palette is essential to making this outfit work-appropriate – can you imagine if you tried to pull off this silhouette in a screaming bright orange? It’d look fun in a photoshoot, but would definitely be way too much for the workplace.

For simultaneously fun and professional pieces, look for something like this tweed Endless Rose dress. For cute, high-quality basics to pair with your statement pieces, look for something like this 95% cotton tee by Cuts Clothing or these versatile WHBM flare jeans that are available in both regular and curvy fit. 

Closing Thoughts

Though what you’ll wear may not be your first concern when starting a job, that doesn’t mean it’s totally irrelevant. The effect that our attire can have on our mood and productivity makes purposeful workplace dressing worth it for your mental health just as much as for your outward appearance. In a world that often equates chasing big dreams with denouncing femininity, donning your womanhood proudly in the workplace can be a subtle act of rebellion. If there’s one thing that the likes of Blair Waldorf and Elle Woods have taught our generation, it’s that you can conquer the world and look great while doing it.

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