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Q. My office wardrobe feels so stale and uninspired lately. Now that summer is here, I feel like I should be wearing something more exciting - but I can’t really break dress code either. Are there any styles or pieces you can suggest that will shake things up without going overboard?

A. Corporate attire doesn’t always inspire a great deal of excitement, but with a few small tweaks here and there you can really change things up just enough to make your summer 9-to-5 more stylish. The key is to achieve a balance that addresses the sweltering temps outside and your no doubt brisk, air-conditioned office. Don’t shy away from bright colors that add a little pop to your practical neutrals, and embrace the simplicity of lightweight fabrics that keep you comfy all day long. Here are a few pieces that will seamlessly integrate into your work wardrobe.

summer-office-1.jpgBoss Black Ipepla Blouse, $185
DKNY Jacket - $109.50
Vince Camuto Floral Blouse, $99

summer-office-2.jpgWhite House Black Market Perfect Pencil Skirt, $78
Eliza J Colorblock Shift Dress, $70.80
Ann Taylor Carnegie Cropped Pants
, $68

Q. I’m going to a wedding on June 15 at a country B&B in Vermont. It’s a very intimate - only 30 guests - outdoor ceremony with a dinner afterward but no real “reception” or dancing. The bride said “there is no dress code” when I asked. What on earth do I wear? The B&B is kind of upscale/expensive, but she kept stressing the wedding was low key. Also, I’m bringing my 6 month old son, so I don’t want to wear anything too expensive or fine materials that would get ruined. Thank you!!

A. For a low-key summer wedding with no dress code, it’s time to bring out your prettiest little summer dress. Since it’s not black tie, or even cocktail attire, you can wear anything from a short flirty dress to a long summery maxi. Take advantage of the country outdoor/indoor setting and look for bright colors and pretty prints. A strappy sandal or wedge completes the look. Here are four dresses to inspire you.

laid-back-wedding-180.jpg

Q. I’ve recently lost a lot of weight and don’t feel like I know appropriate dress lengths anymore. What is acceptable to wear to work? Is a couple of inches above the knee ok? Could you show me where a skirt/dress should hit with a picture?

skirt-length-180.jpg

A. Congrats on your weight loss and your newfound confidence! The basic rule for dress and skirt length for the office is to keep your hem at or just above the knee — about 2 inches above the knee at the shortest length. Of course, all office dress codes are different; a conservative office might require skirts to be knee length or longer, while a casual or creative office might permit skirts that are shorter than a couple inches above the knee. If you’re unsure of what is permitted at work, take a look at some of your superiors to see what skirt lengths they tend to wear.

Below are 5 skirts of different lengths, starting on the left from below the knee and gradually moving upward to several inches above the knee (mid-thigh) at the right. Consider this a sliding scale from conservative to casual/creative offices. If your office falls somewhere in the middle (as most do), then your safest skirt length is 2 inches above the knee or longer.

If your office does allow shorter skirts, you should still always strive to look professional. Be sure to do a test before leaving your house where you sit and bend over to ensure that your skirt doesn’t ride up too high. Also, you should balance a shorter length skirt with conservative shoes and top at the office. A tank top, miniskirt and strappy heels is never ok, even in the most casual office.

Q. I love that shorts are longer this season, but I always feel so frumpy in Bermuda shorts. Can you help me find a flattering pair?

bermudas-180-s2013.jpg

A. Bermuda shorts were a hit on the Spring runways and a nice alternative to the short shorts we’ve been seeing for many seasons now. Depending on the style of shorts you choose as well as what you pair with them, they can be dressed up for work and evening, or dressed down for weekends. Here are a few tips for finding your most flattering pair (and avoiding the frump):

  • Choose a slim-cut pair for the most flattering silhouette.
  • Petite women want to look for a pair that hits a couple of inches above the knee, while women with longer legs can wear shorts that hit at or over the knee. (Tip: You can cuff your shorts to get them to your ideal length — or bring them to a tailor for a more finished look.)
  • Wear shorts with heels or wedges to lengthen and visually slim your legs. Flats work too, but tend to make legs look shorter

Here are some looks for inspiration:.

Q. I recently picked up some striped tees (the open V-neck from Anthropologie in orange and yellow) and the Dotted tee in navy from JCrew. They are just casual tees, but I would like to wear some type of necklace with them. I’m stumped as to what works with these (if anything). Can you give me some suggestions?

A. I love the idea of dressing up a basic t-shirt (printed or plain) with a statement necklace — the epitome of laid-back chic that’s perfect for summer. Look for bold bright candy colored necklaces and chunky chains to make a statement, or go for something more delicate for a subtle look; the possibilities are truly endless. Here are some options for every budget and style.

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