I’ve been meaning to do a workwear edit featuring a dress, but my usual technique of collages/paper dolls doesn’t work nearly as well with dresses. The proportions, especially when layering, can be really tricky. Unless one is opting for Put On Dress, Add Sad Cardigan (which, hey, we’ve all been there), in order to come up with layered office looks that actually work, I’ve gotta put the things on my body.
The question, however, was: with what dress?
I wanted a dress that could be worn to work on its own (this will be debatable), but could also work under a bunch of different types of layers. So big, interesting sleeves were out. I was also hoping for something fairly year-round-ish. And since this dress is already going to skew somewhat conservative (again, work) I keep hearing Linzi’s voice in my head yattering on about “appropriate” dresses that she uses for boring school functions and whatnot. So maybe a dress that is pretty or interesting enough to also be worn outside the office.
Enter, Vince’s Pleated Midi Dress (part of the NSale, no less).
I was eyeing up this dress primarily because most of my favorite pieces in this year’s NSale were all Vince. This is noteworthy because, at first glance, the Vince products in this year’s NSale seemed boring and borderline awful. It wasn’t until I put a few of them on that I realized there are some serious gems hidden amongst the sea of sad. (Someone needs to have a conversation with Vince or maybe Nordstrom about the styling). Anyway, I saw promise in the pleats because pleats almost always look better IRL. And I was interested in the styling possibilities of the drawstring waist: Cinched in? Drop waist? Hmmm.
5 Business Casual Ways to Style Vince’s Pleated Midi Dress For Fall
Turns out this dress is freaking great. Despite the conservative, office-appropriate proportions the skirt is wildly feminine and a little flirty. And the whole dress is really fun to wear. Knowing that pleats don’t photograph nearly as well, I threw together a little reel of all of these outfits, so you can see how they look IRL.
Below are six ways to layer this dress for work.
1. With A Cropped Blazer
This would be my standard office fall edit for basically any midi dress I want to turn into work clothes: tall boots, cropped blazer. Love it.
NOTE: While I originally tried on (and love) FRAME’s cropped NSale blazer, the black blazer I’m wearing here is by Free People. It’s great, and a fraction of the cost of FRAME’s.
2. With A Sweater Vest
To make work clothes more interesting this fall, I would also throw a trendy sweater vest on over a dress. And OH MY GOD my exact vest is on sale at Saks OFF!!
If bare arms are a work no-no for you, the whole thing still looks cute under that cropped blazer, too.
3. Over A Button-Up
Ok, this is exciting: Because of that cinched waist, you can un-cinch it a little and get a vibe that’s alllllmost romper-like. Or playsuit-like. It’s cool, a little edgy, and means that you can layer this dress over button-up shirts and/or turtlenecks. It all works.
4. Under A Cropped Sweater
Ok, this is less exciting — throwing sweaters over a dress isn’t exactly novel. But it’s still cozy, cute, and something I would wear the heck out of.
The key here is to look for a sweater that’s more in the cropped family. This striped one from Free People might work well, it’s more cropped than the sweaters I’m wearing.
And I appreciate that this wine color can be paired with all sorts of gorgeous fall tones, even earthy or army-ish greens:
5. Under A Sweater Dress
On the opposite end of the spectrum….go long with the sweater. Like, really long… I’m talking dress length. Here I’m wearing a short sweater dress, but you could go even longer, letting the pretty pleats peek out wherever they may.