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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New York Fashion Week: BCBG Max Azria Fall 2010

When we first saw the photos from the 2010 Fall collection for the BCBG Max Azria, Jennifer and I both blurted -Where is the color?  But then we quickly realized that the pieces in the collection were very versatile and could easily transition from season to season.  It was all about draping, colorblocking and layering.  It was very realistic and recession friendly given the state of our economy.

Here are some of the looks we were coveting from the collection. All images are courtesy of


 Is it separates or a dress? We love how this outfit keeps you guessing.  We also love how these pieces mix and match.  We would probably suggest black opaque tights rather than white.


We love this casual look with asymmetrical layers and black trousers.


 We love how the layers in the outfits above can easily be translated to a dress, skirt, and even denim! 

You don’t have to wait until Fall to find office friendly looks from BCBG Max Azria.  We found some great options for Spring right here on!

BCBG Max Azria - Long Sleeved Matte Jersey Print Dress (Poppy) - ApparelBCBG Max Azria - Kimono Sleeve Woodblock Print Dress (Bright Celedon) - ApparelBCBG Max Azria - Printed Gathered Front Dress (Blue Jade Multi) - Apparel
BCBG Max Azria - Silk Top w/ Bandage Bottom (Persian Blue) - ApparelBCBG Max Azria - Morrisa (Vapor/Tan) - FootwearBCBG Max Azria - Imin (Black/Vapor) - Footwear
BCBG Max Azria - Eriana (Red Patent) - FootwearBCBG Max Azria - Raisa (Bleach) - FootwearBCBG Max Azria - Dida (Anthrocite Penta) - Footwear

Stay tuned to see how we translate the Fall 2010 runway trends to office friendly looks!

Putting your Basics Together

Over the last couple of months we have talked about updating your basics and building a solid foundation for your work wardrobe. With the holidays upon us, we are going to give you a break for a couple of weeks. First, we want to look back at the five key pieces we have updated and put together a few more chic outfits with fun accessories.

LBD too Red
LBD too Red by Workchic featuring Banana Republic

We showed you the black wrap dress and rounded toe pumps previously. Add some color with a Second Base demi-cami in a vibrant scarlet that’s carried into the earrings. The crystal rings in this bracelet from Heart’s Desire will pull any color in the rainbow. Let it play red today and look brand new tomorrow against something blue. Together these pieces will update your classic LBD and make it seasonally fresh.

Basics Combine
Basics Combine by Workchic featuring Banana Republic

Our second look contains a blouse, skirt, cardigan, and ballet flats we’ve shown you before. But did you ever think about putting them together? Don’t worry, we did it for you. Then warmed it up with a colorful scarf from Silk Road Spirit. Together or separate these pieces are classically feminine and chic.

Did you miss any of the fun. You can go back and check out our post on Cardigans, Skirts, Black Shoes, White Blouses, or Classic LBD’s at any time. After the holidays we will return with tailored blazers, black trousers, and more key items to round out your perfect, professional wardrobe. 

We use Polyvore to help us organize these looks to share with you. You can check out more of our Polyvore outfits and start creating some of your own by visiting today!

Introducing Second Base Demi-Camis

We were very excited to learn about this collection of Demi-Camis.They are perfect for layering under a low cut blouse or sweater. Now you can find them on!

These were designed to help keep you covered up and looking professional and come in many colors. Wear them over your bra and under any tops that are more revealing then is appropriate for the office.  

Sarah demi-cami Meredith demi-cami Brittany demi-cami

To learn more about these demi-camis, we spoke to Jennie Horn the creator of Second Base. She shared with us what inspired her creation and some chic styling tips.

1) What inspired you to create Second Base Camis?
The idea hit me when working as an interior decorator in Chicago. I wanted to look professional, but still wear the latest dresses. Kimono and v-neck empire dresses were everywhere, and I had no choice but to wear a cami under everything. I was frustrated that the ones I wore always rolled up, or just added bulk and bunching to my waistline.

Second Base Dami Cami

2) How do you wear them?
I usually wear them under dresses, but sometimes if I have a low cut shirt and don’t want a long cami peeking out the bottom, my demi-camis are perfect. Right now I’m being careful about spending, so for me it’s a great way to add a punch of color to a dress I may be tired of, and make it seem brand new. Scarlet is really hot right now, and violet is also a great choice to update dresses you already have.

Sarah demi-cami

3) That’s a great tip, share a few more of your favorite items to wear them under?
Sometimes I find that a strappy dress can use a little help from the Meredith style, which has wide straps to cover your bra. Some of us must always wear a bra (which I hope we’re all doing at work), and a skinny strap won’t cut it. Best of all, it lets you re-purpose a flirty nighttime piece and wear it during the day. It’s all about making your existing wardrobe more versatile.

Sarah demi-cami

4) We’ve all had a shirt we thought was work appropriate, but at some point through the day we look down and realize we are exposing more then we intended. Do you have any tricks to spot the less obvious offenders?
That’s so funny you mention it, because I was JUST saying that to someone about the wrap dress. You put it on, and it’s in the right spot, but throughout the day it “settles.” Next thing you know, your bra is showing where you thought you were covered. With Second Base, you will still look fantastic in your wrap dress, and avoid the wardrobe malfunction!

Sarah demi-cami

We consider these a basic, and you should too. Shop for your favorite styling to compliment the items in your wardrobe. Remember to keep an eye out for those styles that settle throughout the day, and wear a demi-cami to prevent any inappropriate skin in the office. Remove extra bulk from your Workchic style and pick up a Second Base Demi-Cami today!

Layer on a Cardigan

This time of year we need all the layering pieces we can get and cardigans are no exception. They are a key work wardrobe basic that can be worn with just about anything. We even keep one at the office so that we can still look Workchic when we are chilly. Unfortunately the one we keep on our chair does not usually hold up as long. Before we go any further, take a look at yours and make sure it’s still in professional shape! Now you can also inventory your closet when you get home. We recommend seeing what color cardigans you have and how they mix and match into your wardrobe. Then fill in the blanks.  We found some styles to help you get started.

On a budget- We shopped Charlotte Russe, Embroidered Cardigan for $24.99, and Old Navy, Satin-Trim Cardigans – Goodnight Nora for $29.50 available in regular, petite, and tall sizes. We also found Women’s Plus: Women’s Plus Scoop-Neck Cardigans – Black Jack for $32.50.

Embroidered Cardigan Women: Women's Satin-Trim Cardigans - Goodnight Nora  Women's Plus: Women's Plus Scoop-Neck Cardigans - Black Jack

For classics to last you years- We shopped Banana Republic and found Women: Italian merino cardigan – Autumn burgundyfor $69.50, available in regular, tall, petite sizes, and many colors. From Dillards Lauren by Ralph Lauren Supima Cardigan for $99.50.  Then we went to CJBanks and selected a Plus Size Cable Cardiganicon for $39.50.

Women: Italian merino cardigan - Autumn burgundy iconicon iconicon

Cashmere Blends- We searched and found Marc by Marc Jacobs Tabitha Cashmere Cardigan and Rag & Bone Honeycomb Cardigan also 100% Cashmere.  From the Lane Bryant Icon Collection, cashmere cardiganicon with subtle metallic highlights.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Tabitha Cashmere Cardigan Rag & Bone Honeycomb Cardigan iconicon

Now that you’re ready to buy a new cardigan, or two, we want to make sure you know how to wear them. We created three outfits on Polyvore to show you how.  Learn to layer with business casual style and Shop and Save today!

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View 'Updated Basics' on Polyvore