I am so not a morning person. Really, not a morning person. In fact, I am practically incoherent before 10 a.m. Now, imagine me trying to get ready for work at 6:00 a.m. It's not a pretty picture. That's why I love the idea of dresses for work. One piece, no matching required. It's instant chic for the office. That makes the morning so much more bearable.
A dress that works for work must hit the middle ground that exists somewhere between trampy and matronly. Neither extreme is desirable. The trick is to find the right balance between covered up and body conscious. Admittedly, this isn't the equation for a super conservative workplace, but it's right on point for a basic business to business casual office.
A perfect choice is this Belted Leopard Print Techno Dress from Marc Jacobs. This silk-lined rayon blend frock manages to vibe fashion-forward and fit like a dream, while remaining appropriately demure.
→ Buy the Marc Jacobs Belted Leopard Print Techno Dress, $885.00, at nordstrom.com; shipping and returns are free.
Going straight to cocktails after work? Slip into this Lela Rose Dot-Print Contour Dress in the morning and you'll be set. Pair it with neutral platform pumps and a slim blazer for day; at night ditch the blazer, trade out the platforms for metallic strappy sandals, and add some statement jewelry for effect.
→ Buy the Lela Rose Dot-Print Contour Dress, $1,195.00, at neimanmarcus.com.
Travel for work? Matte jersey is your new best friend. This all-occasion fabric packs like a dream and resists wrinkles like crazy. This Reed Krakoff Matte Jersey Dress will also save room in your suitcase by doubling as both a work dress and cocktail frock.
→ Buy the Reed Krakoff Matte Jersey Dress, $1,290.00, at nordstrom.com; shipping and returns are free.
A jersey knit in a basic shape is perfect for a more casual office environment. The Halston Heritage Draped Jersey Dress is super sleek, but still work appropriate thanks to a shape that skims rather than hugs your curves. Just remember, you may need to wear a camisole underneath to make this truly office-appropriate.
→ Buy the Halston Heritage Draped Jersey Dress, $207.00 (was $235.00), at bergdorfgoodman.com.
Looking for a dress that works for work and works within your budget? Look no further than this Jones New York Belted Cap Sleeve Dress. The shape is classic, the price is insanely affordable (for a limited time you can even get an extra 50% off the sale price), and it's available in 8 different colors. Hard to beat that.
→ Buy the Jones New York Belted Cap Sleeve Dress, $109.00 (was $149.00), at jny.com.
This post originally appeared on January 14, 2007. It has since been updated.