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October 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Work it: Add a few key pieces to take your office style from blah to brilliant


By Kristin Kalning / Special to Sunday Market

We Seattleites love our casual office dress code almost as much as we love our coffee breaks. But has your work attire crossed the line into boring or — worse — sloppy?

You don’t need to invest in a closetful of suits to make a more professional impression. These easy tweaks will take your look to the next level.

Darken your denim

If you live in jeans, consider dark denim as an easy way to polish up your workday look. Pick a pair with minimal fading and no embellishments, advises Darcy Camden, a Seattle-based stylist and owner of Styled.Seattle.

For men, Camden recommends Banana Republic, where you can get a really good, durable pair of jeans for under $100 and they’re always “unfussy,” she says. Two to try: the Boot-Cut Indigo Jean and the Straight Fit Black-Rinse Jean (both $89.50; available in big and tall sizes), which also comes in a deep blue wash.

There is no one-size-fits-all jean for women (oh, if only!), but Camden is partial to NYDJ. “They’re pretty high-waisted, and I mean that in the best possible way,” she says. “You don’t want too-low jeans when you’re at work.” Try the Filipa Wide-Leg Trouser ($110) in the sophisticated Dark Enzyme wash, or the Janice Skinny Denim Jeggings ($104, both at Macy’s), loved for their comfort and sleek style.

Also recommended: Paige Denim jeans. “They don’t have a lot of detailing on the back pocket, and they pair really nice with other work separates,” Camden says. She says to look at the Hidden Hills Straight Leg Stretch Jeans ($169), in the almost-black Champion Wash, or the Skyline 12 Skinny Stretch Jeans ($158, both at Nordstrom), which reviewers love for their thigh-thinning properties.

Ditch the jeans  

It is possible to be comfortable at work in something other than denim — really. Bill’s Khakis Canvas Trousers ($115) can be altered in the waist and seat, and hemmed for free at Jack Jerome, U District.

Women should check out the much-loved Marisa Trouser Leg Pants ($69.50 at Loft), which have just enough stretch to be comfy, but not so much that they’re baggy by day’s end.

Add a third piece 

Ever stood in front of the mirror in your shirt and pants and felt like something was missing? The easiest way to finish a look is to add another layer or an accessory, says Camden. “A third piece makes you look like you got dressed on purpose, which is always the goal,” she says.

The third piece can be a blazer, such as the wardrobe-staple Ponte Knit Blazer ($90 at Loft). Or try a cardigan, such as the snap-front, retro Monogram Spike-Striped Cardigan ($148 at Anthropologie) or J.Crew’s Classic Merino Long Cardigan ($89.50).

It can also be a great piece of jewelry, such as Madewell’s Metal Fan Necklace (on sale for $40). Or use a scarf to add instant polish to your otherwise ho-hum outfit. Check out the Collection XIIX Lace Print Infinity Scarf ($38) and the BP Leopard Print Infinity Scarf ($18, both at Nordstrom).

Men will look sharp — but still casual — by layering the Ludlow Vest ($138 at J.Crew) over a button-down or a T-shirt.

Camden’s favorite third piece is a belt. “Pretty much everyone can benefit from having some sort of defined center or waistline,” she says. If you had to get just one, to wear over blazers, sweaters or dresses, she suggests the Lauren by Ralph Lauren Stretch Belt ($38 at Nordstrom).

Inject a little color 

Yes, we Seattleites like our neutrals. But adding a pop of color to your ensemble will get you noticed — in a good way. Try Miz Mooz’s Jolyn flats ($90 at, which have a classy pointed toe and hidden wedge, and come in yellow or green. Or go with Gap’s Eversoft Cardigan ($40), which comes in happy hues such as Lava Orange and Purple Paradise.

Menswear in Seattle typically ranges from black to gray (and sometimes navy), so switch it up with the casual Gap Modern Oxford ($50), which comes in colors such as pine and lavender.


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