Reader Question: Can I Wear Strapless Dresses to the Office?

This week we received a timely question about dresses for the office. Katie asked the following:

“I keep seeing some really cute summer dresses but many I have come across are strapless. Can I wear these to work?”

Well Katie, our gut reaction is no you shouldn’t bear that much skin in the office. But there are ways to make some strapless dresses appropriate. First let’s take a glimpse at styles that we recommend you avoid.

Avoid strapless in the office

This long floral maxi dress, should remain at the beach. It’s fun for the weekends, but not for the office. Anything with a smocked or elasticized bodice, both in a dress or top, is not ideal for the workplace. The styling lacks the structure needed for a professional look.

To take strapless dresses to the office look for structure, fabric, and then add layers. For example this printed Sleek Strapless Dress from The Limited has a fitted bodice, is fully lined, and then accessorized with a belt.  The print is trend right in a graphic pattern. Take the look to the office with a Bow Sleeve Jacket.  You can wear the belt over or under the short sleeve blazer.

Banana Republic Linen chevron dressBanana Republic Long sleeve silk-back cardigan

Another option is Banana Republic Linen chevron dress. This style is also structured with a simple silhouette and flattering darts. We would layer a lightweight cardigan over the soft watercolor print. The Banana Republic Long sleeve silk-back cardigan is a mix of soft and shine with the cotton front and silk back. It will take you from the office to dinner in style.

Remember it’s all in the details. Finish these looks with flattering necklaces and more conservative pumps. The skirt length should also be just above the knee.  By mixing in layers, selecting structured silhouettes, and adding the right details your strapless dresses can be office appropriate.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this summer trend. If you have a question for the Workchic team, send it to

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  1. says

    I agree, many a dresses can be made office friendly by adding a cardigan/jacket, other than the maxi off course.

  2. says

    Agree with TD – no maxi, no smocking, and avoid fine gauge knits. The strapless would need to be fairly structured and fabric that is appropriately dressy to suit the environment. But mixing a jacket with the right strapless is a fun way to change it up a bit at work.

  3. says

    Hmm, not sure I agree about the no maxis. I wore a patterned maxi dress (cotton, not knit) with a belted blazer over it this past week to work (not casual, but not super strict professional environment) and it was a great look that I got lots of compliments on.

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