I have not worked much in my life (and by work I mean in a cubicle at an office). And all the places I worked did not have a strict dress code. Therefore I would always be casual. However, that did not stop me from thinking about clothing items I would love to have when I start working. I can say that I know a thing or two about a professional attire (but I am no expert) and here are the things I think my friend would need:
- Tailored jacket
A nice and well cut jacket will always be in style no matter what. It is a great way to look professional without going the suit route. Moreover, a good jacket goes well with every other clothing item. The extra plus is that it can be dressed down on weekends with jeans. Next has a great selection but a bit pricey. Try the ones at Nissen.co.jp or Forever 21. Or if you want to save, reuse your jacket from your suit (if it still fits)
Forever21 Jacket for 2200Y
- Nice pair of slacks
Cargo pants and jeans are fun but they are not for work. And I despise shorts for the office. Find yourself a nice pair of slacks that flatter your figure. Classical looks are always trendy. And If you absolutely want to wear denim for work, go for the dark wash instead (no acid wash please). I always go to Zara to find myself a nice pair of slacks. You cannot go wrong with their designs.
I do not wear many short skirts but I think that an A line skirt or a pencil skirt can be very practical and stylish. Think about your proportions for the length of the skirt but also about the work dress code. I think that the 7 inches mini skirt that "Amanda" used to wear on Melrose place is a definitive no -no!
This one is on sale at Zara Motomachi for 990Y (I want it soooo but does it fit my casual life?)
No maxi dresses ever. Go for either dresses that come to the knee or the ankles, some that are structured like the Jumper or a sheath dress, or for the flowy type a la DVF.
Jumper dress at nissen.co.jp for 5990Y
H&M dress for 1490Y
Two toned dress from nissen.co.jp for 1990Y
- Shirts or blouses
Button down shirts are a staples for work but I think that blouses can also be a fun alternative, particularly colorful ones or the ones with nice prints.
H&M blouse for 2990Y
H&M blouse for 1190Y
Ladies forget that they can still look professional wearing cardigans over dresses and blouses. It is more comfortable than wearing jackets. Personally I am into wild prints when it comes to cardigans but I do appreciate the one toned.
Love this combination seen on Baila magazine
A pump with a heel is a must. It makes you look professional. Avoid wearing sandals. Peep toes are also great. I prefer kitten heels when it comes to the office. I could never understand why would anyone like to parade at work with 6 inches heels. If the heeled shoes are too much for you, there is a wide selection of flats shoes that are cute yet sophisticated enough for the office.
Kitten heels available at Abc Mart Motomachi for 2990Y
This season's biggest trend: heeled loafers at Esperanza for 6990Y (but you can find cheaper at Vivre Yokohama for 2000Y)
Every girl needs a statement bag. And every professional women needs a good bag that would reflect her personality but also keep all the things she may need for work. I would definitely go for black for this, but a pop of color is always fun. Just do not grab a sequined clutch for work.
Some ladies in Japan always go for designer's bag when it comes to work. I saw many Marc Jacobs, Coach, Prada and even Hermes tote. However, you can get a bag anywhere for a good quality for way less. Shimamura has a great selection from 2000Y and up. And if really you want that designer thing, check "recycling shops" (thrift shops), you can always find that jewel you covet for a very reasonable price.
I hope this was helpful to my friend but also to all other ladies who are stuck with the suit option for work.