Professional businesswomen aspiring to step up their images and make their personal brands shine under the leadership spotlight need to understand which fashion trends are appropriate for the business environment – and how to incorporate them into ensembles that convey professional expertise. Do that and your image will help you become a recognized celebrity within your particular profession or industry.
I never advise my top-level clients to invest in fads for their working wardrobes, but instead I recommend classic-modern styles that are simultaneously contemporary and timeless. But as a senior level retail executive and your professional image and brand strategist, I’ve done all the research for you! Using my latest trend report you can easily navigate your way through the department store to select your fall wardrobe while saving both time and money. I’ll show you how to invest in what works for your personal brand to keep you looking unique, innovative, and contemporary. This season is all about timeless pieces, structured sophisticated silhouettes, and exquisite fabrics and shape accessories that give your nine-to-five look a memorable signature that spells success and charisma.
I reveal a dozen top new trends that communicate professionalism for every woman leader and high achiever. No matter what type of work environment you find yourself in – from formal to business casual or even ultra casual – you can capture the essence of these trends and incorporate that style into your business wardrobe to look outstanding as you enhance your personal brand and professional reputation.
Fashion Trends to Celebrate Your Personal Brand
It’s important to realize that a contemporary wardrobe is like a uniform or an actor’s costume. What you wear and how you wear it is definitely an extension of your professional brand and every day your wardrobe broadcasts messages to others over the business airwaves. Your clothes speak to your level of inner confidence, express your unique style, and symbolize your expertise and character. One of the most common complaints I hear from clients before they work with me is that they look like everyone else in the same suit or cookie cutter outfit. But I know that they simply lack the knowledge of how to leverage fashion trends – not fads – to make them unique and memorable so they will stand out from competitors in a dynamic and positive way. Your head to toe look tells the story of your brand through a visual narrative. So it’s important that the story you are telling is one that others will read as an engaging and convincing “Celebrity with Credibility” news flash.
Fall into Neutral Colors with Grey and Camel
This season no professional can go wrong wearing shades of rich heather grey or camel in their business suits, jackets, skirts, pants, dress coats, and accessories. Look to incorporate these two tones with a suede pump, a quilted Chanel bag, or in monochromatic tones to communicate you’re a classic-elegant woman. I love the streamlined silhouette look that is accomplished by dressing in monochromatic tones of either grey or camel from head to toe. Wear the same basic tones in a wool coat, sweater, trousers, belt, and shoes or boots for those business casual days. But be sure to add some rich texture to this look – otherwise it can appear boring. A suede belt or shoes would easily do the trick. You can also look to mix and match these two tones of camel and grey together. With a charcoal grey suit, for instance, opt for a camel and grey print silk blouse that adds some feminine interest to your power suit.
Who Wears the Pants Now?
This season, it’s all about the pant suit and you will see many styles resembling the menswear silhouettes from yesteryear. But it takes a real lady to enhance the look with a few strategically powerful feminine details. Do that and you will dramatically modernize your look from head to head – and you’ll be ready to compete successfully while going toe-to-toe with male counterparts in any business setting. A great feminine blouse or shoes is one simple but effective way to add ladylike style and grace to the design profile of the traditional men’s uniform – the power suit.
The Statement Jacket – Your Quintessential Go-To Item
Every professional woman knows that when she wants to gracefully glide up the corporate ladder or attract more elite clientele, a few statement jackets will empower her work wardrobe. This season the statement jacket is about sophisticated, structured silhouettes made out of exquisite fabrics with a hint of texture like brocade, tweed, boiled wool, tropical wool, or cotton. Anchor your wardrobe with modern styles like collarless, asymmetrical zip, peplum, 2-button, ruffle trim, or shawl collar styles. Every woman leader needs to exude trustworthiness, strength, and confidence – and statement jackets that you can coordinate with various professional skirts and pants to multiply your ensemble possibilities are the answer this fall.
Beautiful Feminine Details
You will see beautifully refined dressy blouses and shirts in fabrics like crepe, satin, sateen, silk georgette, metallic, and silk charmeuse this fall. So you can have the best of both worlds by powerfully showing your softer side. The fashion focus is on showing off the fine details of this season’s blouses, high up on the neckline. Those include professional wear styles that have, for instance, a draped cowl neckline, a subtle neck chain detail, ruffles on collars and down through the torso, pin tucking details, small neck ties, and pleated round necklines.
The “It Dress” Refined for Fall
One great advantage that women leaders have that our male colleagues don’t is the flexibility to wear easy options like a great dress. This season the “It dress” styles are sheath dresses with either a split neck or a knot tie at the shoulder; dresses with any type of neckline details; solid dark neutral knit dresses; wrap style jersey knit dresses in an array of colorful prints; trench shirt dresses; Pointe knits with princess seams; belted sheath dresses, or simple styles with peplum details. All of the modern styles will be ladylike and nipped in at the waist, giving just the hint of a waistline. Shop for luxurious fabrics and unexpected prints – because when you only wear one item it needs to combine fine quality, texture, and detail to make it a stand-alone look you can wear to work.
The New Trousers
Pants this season will be sleek, long, and lean – with a menswear-inspired look in straight or pencil leg styles. That kind of design lets everything else on your upper torso do the talking and instantly helps to balance out your proportions. Once again you can’t go wrong with colors like camel or grey to round out your wardrobe. There isn’t a woman’s body type on this earth that doesn’t look fabulous in straight cut pants! I always advise my clients that if they ever find a pair of pants that fits their body type they should purchase them in numerous neutral colors to easily look polished in every business casual environment. With the new menswear styles be sure to wear a high heel because that will contribute a more feminine feel to those otherwise rather masculine fabrics and cuts.
Fuller Skirt Silhouettes
Look for skirts this season in luxurious fabrics and modern silhouettes. It’s the return of old world glamour – similar to the secretary styles you see on the hit TV show Mad Men. Those fuller skirts from the 1950s are new again. The pencil skirt has an updated style too, and the flared hemline will make every leg shapelier and add some sway to your walk. Now I call that making a silently classy but memorable entrance!
Wrap Yourself in Sophistication
Give a warm welcome to the new statement outerwear. Coats for fall come in animal prints, brocade designs, suede, faux fur, and classic wool styles. The silhouettes will be stronger, with bolder shoulders and slimmer silhouettes to give you a refined sense of sophistication and elegance. If you work in a more business casual environment, you may want to try out one of the new cape coats that offer stylish fluidity when you wear them with a great straight cut trouser pant. It’s the counterpoint to a streamlined silhouette, so remember that you need to wear that wide cape over a slimmer lower torso in order to keep your proportions balanced.
Animal Feline Style
Animal prints have become a classic print, and they are one way to jazz up your classic wardrobe items. Add a touch of an animal print in a handbag, shoe, silk blouse, scarf, or trench coat. These can be small statement pieces that add some interest but you will want to keep these to a minimum. Otherwise you can call too much attention to yourself with a clothing statement that has so much of the animal element in it that it becomes a little difficult to tame.
This year the handbag is back. It has a more structured look with architectural details and silhouettes and there is a perfect style for every lady. The bags of the season are: the drawstring bag – which is a throwback to the 1970s that resembles the long-handled bucket bag; the clutch style with sharp edges – to take you from day to night without missing a beat; and the smartly structured handbag – like, for example, the classic square bag with a large signature clasp (worn with a strap over the shoulder messenger style). That was a favorite of Jackie Onassis. In tote bags you’ll see an array of multi-handled carry-alls in alluring snakeskin. They come in tones that range from tomato red to warm cognac. Or you can opt for the color of the season by purchasing a grey suede tote bag that keeps you looking professional and also does double duty as the ideal travel bag.
Don’t Just Talk the Talk but Walk the Walk Walk the classic route that speaks volumes about your style by wearing the new pointy-toe heels or bold and colorful peep-toe pumps. Then downshift into my favorite – the kitten heel. This fall shoes will be in colorful tones, and that offers you a great way to quickly add a pop of color to your basic suit. If you are wearing a pantsuit and work in a more casual environment, then consider a suede shoe bootie to add some heel height, texture, and interest to your long, lean look. This season it will be a breeze to add variety to all your casual looks with the wide selection of boot styles that are coming to stores for fall.
One of the wisest investments this season is pearls – either layered or worn alone. You’ll continue to see statement necklaces in multiple strands this season but be cautious. You don’t want your necklace to upstage your presence, so try to keep it simple and elegant. A textured cuff is also a great way to add some jewelry and intrigue to your solid work dress.
Follow these trend tips and fall fashion guidelines and you can save time and money shopping this season while also adding some noticeable innovation and unique style to your core wardrobe. Knowing what to buy – and how to incorporate it into your overall image and branding strategy – is not just fun but it can also pay huge dividends on your clothing investment, both personally and professionally. You’ll feel better, look wonderful, and will always stand out above your peers and competitors in a way that invites greater success