We have all seen some of the crazy “out there” statement sleeves that have been filling the racks of department stores for a while now, but did you ever stop and think about if and how you could incorporate this style into your work wear? Maybe not…but you should! You’re probably thinking, “this woman doesn’t know how conservative my profession is, I can’t possibly pull this off!”
Photography by: Angelita Esparar
Remember, I am a lawyer and it doesn’t get much more conservative than the courtroom! So, I understand the dilemma. I want to talk about the “what, when, and why” of incorporating this sassy style into your work wardrobe.
What Style of Statement Sleeve is Office Chic?
I am wearing a ruffled flounce bell sleeve dress that I purchased from Stein Mart. You can get the exact blue dress here and it is currently on sale for $24! Wow, and I thought I got a good deal when I found it marked down from $118 to $49! This sleeve style may not be appropriate or functional for your work wear wardrobe. It is a little more “sassy” and fun than most of the pieces I have linked throughout this post. I wanted to show off a fun sleeve that really made a statement in photos! I would never wear something like this to court, but I spend many days in a small office and if I styled this with a closed toe heel and conservative jewelry, it would be appropriate for my workplace. Shop the other details of my look and the same dress in pink below!
When I was doing research for this post, I learned there are approximately 20 different types of sleeve styles out there! The style of statement sleeve that may be appropriate for your office will depend on your career and whether the dress code is business casual or business professional.
The cut out sleeve (picture cute little bows or ties down the arm with exposed skin) is NOT acceptable for the workplace, but a basic ruffle or bell sleeve would style well with a pair of work pants. The pleated sleeve is also an understated way to dress up a blouse. The Loft has a beautiful mustard colored top with a pleated sleeve that I styled with a pair of tie front pants, seen in this post.
Some other statement sleeves that can be worn in the workplace are:
Statement sleeves that are too much for the office:
- Tulle or see through sleeve
- Cold shoulder sleeve
- Cut-out sleeve
- Anything “over the top” and distracting
When is a Statement Sleeve ok in the Workplace?
Do you work with the public? Do you attend client meetings, board meetings or frequent a courtroom? Do you only interact with co-workers during the day? You should keep in mind what you will be doing and what type of office setting you will be in on any particular day, when making the decision on whether to wear a statement sleeve.
If you need to attend a meeting that requires you wear a suit or blazer, the statement sleeve dress or top is probably not a good choice! The sleeves won’t fit in your jacket! Also, even if you don’t have to wear a jacket, it is a good idea to think about what you are doing that day. You don’t want your wardrobe to be a distraction, but rather a compliment to your professional appearance and performance on the job. You wouldn’t want to be giving a boardroom presentation and take away from what you are trying to convey because everyone can’t stop staring at your annoyingly flowing sleeves. But, if you have an office day where you are only interacting with co-workers, then dressing up your routine work wear with the right statement sleeve would be a nice change and you will standout in a positive way.
I have linked a collection of tops with statement sleeves below that I think are office appropriate. They are affordable too – all under $30!
Why Should You Incorporate the Statement Sleeve into your Work Wardrobe?
Because sometimes workwear can be a little boring! I could easily wear a pair of straight-leg work pants, a shell, and cardigan most days and be “work appropriate.” But, just like dieting and eating the same foods everyday, that would get a little boring! I feel best when I have taken an otherwise “boring” or conservative look and added something just a bit different to stand out. We often do this by accessorizing with great jewelry, shoes or bags…but what if you begin to think about the statement sleeve as a way to “accessorize” your look?
I have linked dress options below that feature various statement sleeves. As long as you keep in mind what is best for your work environment and stay understated with any of these looks, you really can’t go wrong! I love the bell sleeve check dress from Nordstrom Rack…and it is under $50! Most of these choices would work for me on a non-court day. At 5’9″, I always have to keep the length in mind, so don’t forget to keep your hemlines appropriate too!
What About a Statement Sleeve Suit?
If you’re shopping suits to wear only for interviews, then keep it conservative. But, for those that wear suits on a regular basis, what are your thoughts on incorporating a statement sleeve? I think the same rules apply: know your environment/audience and keep it understated. You are probably thinking an “understated statement sleeve” sounds like an oxymoron, right? Lol Just remember the saying, “a little bit goes a long way” and you’ll be ok!
I love all of the suit options I linked below and in the Florida summer they would be a great break from a traditional long sleeve, wool suit jacket. Again, not for every meeting or court appearance, but I can certainly see myself wearing them on the right day and feeling confident about my choice.
I hope this post sparks a conversation in the comment section below. I know the statement sleeve won’t work for everyone and it definitely won’t be appropriate for every office setting, but I think if done right, it can be a fun way to accessorize your work wardrobe on SOME days. Let me know what you think and if you love a particular brand or retailer who does this look right for the workplace!
BE your BEST – Jenny