• By: OLM Staff

How to Revitalize Your Work Wardrobe

Walking through downtown Ottawa, you will likely see a sea of blue and black and grey suits, comfortable footwear and conservative briefcases – a standard business uniform and a safe bet in the traditional office environment. Sadly, it was not the men that were just described. It is the working women who are downplaying their femininity in favor of serious suits that safely adhere to loosely-defined dress codes.

Men have established a widely-accepted uniform of neutral suits, black belts and leather loafers, and women are following suit, literally. With more women scooping up coveted positions in businesses, why does the masculine silhouette still dominate women’s work wear? It’s time to step away from the pant-suit and into fresh pieces that emphasize and celebrate femininity. Here, OLM shows you how to incorporate runway looks into your work wardrobe for a fresh take on the office uniform.

Leather Separates

Leather continues its run as a viable warm-weather option, with the daring fabric being showcased on softer silhouettes, like this knee-length skirt from Celine. Gone is the biker-babe feel of leathers past, and in are sleek separates in a range of colours and cuts. To ease your office into accepting the trend, try a leather skirt in a longer length – anything shorter than the knee may be too risqué for the workplace. Pair yours with a fun pair of heels and a neutral blouse for a subtle twist on a standard work look.

Wide-Leg Trousers

With skinny jeans and leggings serving as the dominant silhouette for the past few years, it is no wonder that fashion is taking a turn in the opposite direction, with designers like Elie Tahari sending wide-leg trousers down the runway. This trend is surprisingly easy to wear, and incredibly flattering on most body types. The key is proportion, and footwear. With the dramatic shape of the pants, it is best to wear heels with this look – especially if you are on the shorter side. Pair the voluminous bottoms with a fitted top to avoid losing your shape, and play with fun accessories like a skinny belt, scarf or bag in a cheery,  bright colour.

Bright Separates

It takes a leap of faith to step outside in coral-coloured pants, but bright separates can be a great way to inject excitement into your work uniform while still adhering to the office dress code. With bright colours as one of the top trends for Spring, the look can be as simple as adding a bright bag to a neutral suit, or as daring as pairing electric blue with orange. However you wear it, this trend is one of the easiest ways to make your outfit pop.

Mid-Length Skirts

Spring runways showcased mid-length skirts as the newest feminine silhouette, and the look practically screams office-appropriate. Give your trousers a rest and revitalize your wardrobe with a chic skirt that hits mid-calf (if you are tall) or at the knee (for shorter ladies). Pair the piece with feminine wedges or classic pumps and a sweet blouse for a sophisticated, lady-like look.

Printed Separates

If the most exciting piece in your closet is a pin-striped pant, consider it time to incorporate a fresh, bold print into your closet. From Prada to Proenza Schouler, everyone was sending printed pieces down the spring 2011 runways. The easiest way to wear the trend is pairing a printed piece with solids that pick up on the colours in the print. If you want to wear more than one printed piece, keep the prints in the same size, such as a small floral pattern with a delicate stripe, to keep the ensemble cool, not crazy.


As obvious as it sounds, many women seem to forget to power of the dress. Dresses are easy to wear, easy to style, and easy to adjust to any setting. Choose a classic, sleeved silhouette in a modest length for the office, or slip a belted cardigan over a strappy sundress, which can later be removed for a post-work outing. Pair longer styles with heels, and shorter hemlines (paired with tights to keep the look office-appropriate) with cute flats or sandals for a look that easily transitions from work to play.


All photos courtesy of Style.com