Beyond Black and White: Adding Color to Your Office Dress

Sometimes business attire can make you feel like a cast member of The Addams Family. Here's how to add some color to your office dress.

There’s a little sinking feeling that I get in the pit of my stomach every time I trudge into the Work Wear section of my favorite store. All the pre-Spring hues that light up the racks at the shop’s entrance give way to a year-round Addams Family motif. The color palette that uninspired souls don at the office every day: black and grey. And then, of course, there’s the one ubiquitous wardrobe piece that every businesswoman has in the back (or, tragically, the front) of her closet – the black A-Line dress. It was likely one of the first pieces she purchased to wear to a new job, but as time goes by, this entry level outfit choice does not reflect a confident, independent thinker. If a last-resort, black A-Line is closer to the front of your closet than you’d like to admit, reinvent yourself with some of these fresh spins!

Embrace colors

This season, stop being a proponent of the idea that professionalism and uniformity are one in the same. An infusion of color takes the A-Line’s classic shape and adds a dash of personality without straying so far from the status quo that the wearer looks as if they don’t have a grasp of what constitutes professional attire. Select colours that compliment your daily staples which are likely to be a more generic color (for good reason) like your jacket or shoes. Take cues from nature if you’re not sure what colors to go with. With that in mind, in Springtime florals and greens are a safe starting point.


Vince Camuto Crepe A-Line Dress (Regular & Petite), $148

Structure: Spice Up the A-Line’s Silhouette


What makes the A-Line dress a common go-to is the complimentary shape. Characterized by the A it creates from the fitted waist that gives way to a flared skirt, this classic women’s cut was canonized by Dior in the ‘50s. It fits a majority of body types effortlessly, making it an ideal no-fuss choice – perhaps the only one you’ll have the luxury of making during a busy workday. To bring the A-Line into 2016, play with the shape of the top half of your outfit as well. Incorporate a structured top for example, in the likeness of a classic button-down work shirt. If you can find an A-Line dress with a little more going on up top than just a capped sleeve and a boat-neck, you’ll have a piece that’s more memorable, while still being just as easy to throw on and go as its lackluster, plain-Jane counterpart.

Cynthia Steffe ‘Maya’ Tie Waist Fit & Flare Shirtdress (Nordstrom Exclusive), $178

It’s all in the Details


So you have the bold color and personalized silhouette of your A-Line outfit under wraps, but you still feel like you’re a bit too safe. The business-minded will have no trouble with the antidote to this problem. Seek garments with nuanced details. Those little hacks, those tiny facets, those subtle qualities that make one thing not like the other. That je ne sais quois that separates you from the rest. Use the same part of your brain that you would for a marketing pitch and approach your options while shopping with a mind to make a statement that shows who you are versus everyone else. Maybe it’s an A-Line dress with gentle pleats that add a subtle femininity to your ensemble, or a luxury fabric like quality silk that perfectly fits your idea of well-dressed. Use tiny details and accessories to complete the trifecta of things to consider when shopping for A-Lines this season.

Adrianna Papell Pleated A-Line Dress (Regular & Petite), $160

Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a fashion and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. She has worked as Associate Publisher of Private Islands magazine and Lifestyle Editor of Style Empire, and has contributed to NOW Magazine.