Does this look work (for work)?

In the 1988 movie Working Girl, Melanie Griffith’s character, Tess, longs to transform herself from a Staten Island secretary to a Manhattan businesswoman. Her boss, played by Sigourney Weaver, imparts this fashion wisdom: “Dress shabbily and they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, and they notice the woman.”

When you look at this FOF, do you see the clothes or the woman? Our FOF Style Gurus have strong opinions–do you agree? (Plus, this FOF happens to be a serious VIP in the working world. Can you guess who it is?)

Sherrie Mathieson: I love it. This is understated-luxe at it’s best. The palette of neutrals accentuated by warm plums and browns is exquisite. A variety of textures give excitement to this comfortable look. She is a poster child for my personal philosophy for successful style: modern classics, high quality, and dressing to emphasize your best features (notice the lovely ankles). Even her nails are perfectly groomed!

Sherrie Mathieson is a leading style expert and Random House author of Steal this Style and Forever Cool.


Susan Grant: The proportion of the pieces is perfect and so is the combination of textures. I love the dark knit top with shantung slacks. The wedge shoes are a feminine, modern touch. She is simply and elegantly accessorized with her watch and skin clutch. This look works!

Susan Grant is merchandise manager for Muse, a full-service jewelry showroom.


Lovey Dash: I like the proportions – the longer cardigan cover up with the shorter pant. The mix of colors are interesting, yet neutral, and age appropriate. Her watch, (I think it’s Hermes) and clutch look right but the shoes are killing her outfit! They are too casual and cheapen the look. I would have preferred a peep-toe kitten heel or even a nice Chanel flat.

Lovey Dash is a Beverly Hills-based stylist. She was formerly in VIP sales for Louis Vuitton on Rodeo Drive.


Susan Hersh: I love the color of her shoes and clutch, but  her cardigan is not flattering. She has it buttoned in the center but it would look better if she wore it open. It’s also pulling on her and hugging her buttocks. A more relaxed cardigan, in a heavier knit will not cling or show every ripple on her back. I’d prefer if she wore something more like this.

Susan Hersh is a Ford Model and the host and executive producer of Meet The Experts.


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55 Responses to “Does this look work (for work)?”

  1. stella111 says:

    Looks like Martha Stewart – and I’ve never been a fan of her style. I’m sure her clothes are expensive but she always looks like she dressed without looking in the mirror, and this look is no exception. I think it’s dowdy and the pants are too short. The shoes are completely wrong. I can’t at all see what your “experts” think is so great about it, other than that the colors don’t clash.

  2. kellykat says:

    looks smart & well put together. I would probably leave the cardigan unbuttoned. the outfit works well either way.

  3. sharon910 says:

    She look great and comfotable.

  4. thereislightonthehorizon says:

    I think that this woman (Dianne Sawyer?) looks absolutely put together. And who says that capris are not office apparel….it depends on the office. If you are in the board room making presentations to stockholders, probably not. But if you are in ‘your’ office then office wear is what you make it.

  5. P.D.R says:

    I’m sure this woman (who appears to be Martha Stewart) could probably care less what any of us think about how she dresses. How many of you could pass the test?

  6. cathy says:

    Love the colors, do no love the length of the pants or the sweater. I agree that the shoes look cheap.

  7. Andy says:

    I really like the look, but I think it depends on where/what your career is. I was a VP for a country club and it would have been PERFECT there! I know that I would have left the sweater open and added a high-fashion belt )

  8. Cynthia says:

    The experts are right on. The fabrics are lovely and classic and elegant. The shoes absolutely cheapen the look. And the sweater is a lovely fine-guage, but should be worn unbuttoned. She should look for the same color and fabric, but NO bottom ribbing.

  9. Louise O'Keefe says:

    I think this is Martha Stewart. This look works for her and I think she can wear what she wants. The length of the pants and the shoes would not work for my place of employment.

  10. Helen Heap says:

    I think she looks great for who she is..and I guess she is Martha Stewart!

  11. Mary says:

    Love the color pallette. Love the pants, watch, and purse.
    The sweater is not flattering bc it makes her posterior stand out too much and for me it is too long and matronly. Also the shirt…I don’t think the tie part is very attractive. The shoes are OK. Maybe flats might look good or a nice sling back short heel.

  12. Martha says:

    Wow. The first word that comes to mind is sloppy. The fabric in the cropped pants looks like beautiful shantung, but the other pieces are completely unremarkable, even if they are expensive. The sweater fits poorly. From the back, it is bound to be even more unflattering. And crops and espadrilles for the office? Really? But the sloppy look is because of the sweater more than anything.

  13. Jill says:

    I agree with Susan Hersh. All I see is the booty!

  14. debbie says:

    First thing I thought was looks like Martha Stewart. Not an office outfit at all, capri’s a no – shoes – a no, sweater isn’t flattering. All in all the outfit is a bit of a yawn.

  15. Debbie S. says:

    The only thing that I like about this outfit are the colors. The sweater is too long, the pants are too short and the shoes, in my opinion do not look good with the other pieces. I love the style and texture of the Capri’s but with a shorter jacket would definitely improve the look. I would also rather see this outfit with a mule or slides not espadrill’s

  16. Darlene says:

    The outfit is suitable; more of a casual Friday with the high-water pants. Not something I would choose for myself, but I agree the color combo is nice. I would like to see what her hairstyle looks like and what kind of earrings she is wearing. Is her purse too small that she can’t fit her cell in it?

  17. Pat K W says:

    I don’t think the wedges or crop pants are flattering on anyone, in either professional or casual settings. However, if the pants were the traditional length it would be perfectly fine in most offices. Also, agree with most that the cardigan would be best left unbuttoned.

    Not a fan, but would consider this outfit suitable for business casual days in most offices in Houston.

  18. Debbie Boltinghouse says:

    The sweater is ill fitting and is really buttoned in the wrong place. I think that blouse is really out of style. A smoother top would be more flattering. The pants look like they should go with a completely different top. The shoes are cute , but don’t look professional.

    It looks like Meg Whitman.

  19. JeanW says:

    I think that it’s an outfit that makes the corporate woman look more updated and which also says office elegant. However the pants should be ankle length. The sweater looks too old fashioned and should turn into a more updated sweater or jacket. And although the shoes are casual, they give an edge to the more traditional corporate stuffy pump.

  20. dianne conner says:

    fabulous! go, girlfriend!

  21. Sallyjoy says:

    I agree with Susan Hersh, the cardigan is too tight across her backside. The shoe depends on where she lives – NYC it’s too casual — here in San Diego it’s just right!

  22. Diane says:

    Too plain and blah…even for everyday wear. Looks dated. Appears to be Martha Stewart.

  23. Diane says:

    Too plain and blah…even for everyday wear. Looks dated!

  24. Elisebtx says:

    Cardigan and shoes make this outfit too casual, too unbusiness-like. Grooming, trousers (silk shantung too classy for just pants), watch, clutch, all well-done, Martha! But get a new jacket and some leather shoes (men don’t wear sandals to work and don’t show their toes).

  25. Silver says:

    Sorry, experts, but cropped pants should NEVER be worn in the workplace. Some places might find them acceptable, but I think most people in America would say that it is a casual silhouette that is best left for weekend brunch or a day at the beach. (Personally speaking, I HATE crop pants and do not believe they look good on any woman, no matter how nice the ankles.) In addition, the high espadrilles also communicate an informal attitude. Again, save those babies for brunch.

    As far as the cardigan is concerned, I agree with several of the comments herein that it is unattractive, but I would go one step further and say that, if you are going to wear a cardigan, it should be more structured, not less (as in the example that one of the experts linked.) Think CHANEL, not J. Crew.

    Yes, the colors are OK, but make the pants a nice tailored pair complemented by lovely leather flats with a pleasing decorative detail. Switch out the clingy cardigan for a structured sweater with either unique buttons or a zipper and flattering cowl neck that lays back like lapels when partly zipped. You could even opt for a woven Chanel-style jacket in a fun color pallette. The blouse should be sleek, in a feminine fabric. If the jacket doesn’t have a pattern, then the blouse SHOULD. To complete the look, a nice watch, a simple pair of pearl drop earrings, and a structured bag that is pretty, but big enough to carry some business (not a clutch bag, please! Save those for evening.)

    Everyone knows that if you want to be successful in the business world you must dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have. If you are Martha Stewart or have her money, you can dress any way you want and no one would dare object. I can’t believe the experts gave a “thumbs up” on this rumpled, boring outfit.

  26. Mary says:

    like the colors but not the style of the sweater, looks like it is hugging her in the rear!! the shoes should be smaller heels but I love the open toe and bow

  27. Trisha says:

    Well, I do not consider this a professional look. But, if you are the Boss lady, I suppose you can wear anything… This would be an OK look for teachers, Hollywood types, casual offices, but certainly not in the corporate world. It does not command enough respect for the wearer. Colors are OK, but those of us who wore these shoes the first time around, (70’s??) should reconsider before wearing them again.

  28. pam munro says:

    How wd you keep those pants CLEAN? – I wd prefer flats here…& I also think the clutch lks like the pile of bks I had to carry in hi school….

  29. Sally says:

    I like the outfit, but not the blouse under the sweater. Maybe if she had a sheel instead. A blouse that is not tucked in, just makes me think of grandmothers walking the mall.

  30. Claudia says:

    I like her choice of colors, but I think her pants are horrible! In my opinion, cropped pants do not look classy on a woman of 50 or older. They cut off her legs and make her look choppy, whereas a longer pant would have elongated her legs. And the high wedges with the short pants? No! They are great shoes, but would look so much classier with a longer pant.

    I agree with Susan, too, that her sweater should be unbuttoned. Overall, I do not like this look – especially for a woman of her age.

  31. Louise says:

    Before retiring, I worked for a financial services firm. Suits continue to prevail for the male executives. Females who might dress in the outfit depicted would not be viewed as “serious” or perhaps would be mistaken for an administrative employee. Although I personally like the look, it wouldn’t work at the “Big 3” firms unless they observe a casual Friday. I believe this look would be successful in a more relaxed working environment.

  32. arlene s says:

    Like the outfit from the bottom of the sweater on down. The sweater seems to kling to her hips to much. Perhaps a shorter textured jacket. Needs some color around the neck, maybe turquoise beads. Not a fan of the bland white blouse either.
    As we mature I feel a splash of color is always welcome.

  33. Barbara-b says:

    I would wear this to work…it is just perfect. I love the shoes/sweater/crop pants look. It is just casual enough to look active but the quality of the materials all shine through making it classic and classy!


  34. JAN says:


  35. Donna Perone says:

    The fabric gives this cropped pant an elegant look. Love the clutch and watch. Though the proprtions work well, this sweater is not flattering. I would suggest a swing shaped cardigan. Pumps or a shoe with a heel would look more sophisticated.

  36. Marcia says:

    I’m not 100% on this. Partly her fault, partly fashion’s. She’s wearing a cardigan because it’s all that can be found on the racks these days: You can’t fine good blazers anymore, and when you do, they are shabby “boyfriend” jackets with 3/4 roll sleeves and wrinkly linen. Horrible for business. I seriously blame the fashion suppliers for this dirth. The silk slacks are nice, but not the length. The capri look is deadly for business. The blouse is good, color is good, but open toed shoes and no hosiery another two bad hits. Wear closed pumps, use hosiery. I really don’t care to guess who the woman is, she’s not dressed appropriately for the engineering, legal, or political work world. Maybe she’s an actress or interior designer. But you can’t compete against men wearing that outfit.

  37. Ruth says:

    First of all, I’m gonna have to go with Martha Stewart.

    I love the color combination and LOVE those capris, however, I don’t feel it’s “professional.” In order to approach professional she’s DEFINITELY need to change those shoes!!!

    But if she wanted a lovely casual look then she should DUMP the dowdy top and opt for a figure flattering T.

    I guess in any event that top should GO!

  38. Arletta says:

    I like the color combination and the shoes. The crop pants and sweater just make her look too casual and a bit sloppy. Not youthful but probably comfortable.

  39. Kathy says:

    Nope – she looks like she’s going to school. Or taking the “kids” there. Not a good look for work – maybe with trousers rather than those cropped pants. Nice color scheme.

  40. Gina P says:

    I rhino I would have liked it more if the cardigan was a bit more fitted…perhaps just a bit shorter – other than that, the look doesn’t really bug me at all. She looks put together and comfortable.

  41. cyndi says:

    I agree, an elegant and classic look. It depends on the work area if apt or not, but capris are generally too casual for most offices.

  42. Faith says:

    I like it. I would wear this to work. In my case I would wear a little lower heel but each to her own, I guess.

  43. AliHayden says:

    First, I do like the mix of textures. BUT…The capri (or are the crop) pants and wedges don’t work. Nor would they be suitable in as office attire other than dress down days. The pants are a bad color with her colouring with her ankles below the hem. Just look like they’ve shrunk or she couldn’t find the right lenght pants. Personally a boot or flat sandel that climbs the leg might save the look, but, now sure.

  44. Kathy S. says:

    I agree with Susan Hersh. i really don’t like the way the cardigan is pulling across her stomach. The Eileen Fisher cardigan in the same tobacco color would be very flattering!

  45. Trudy L. says:

    I agree with Ms. Dash and Ms. Hersh. In addition, the slacks look too short and dressy for the rest of the outfit. The length of the pants are not attractive in this photo. The same slacks, but longer to touch the shoe would be more attractive. The accessories look tasteful. I think its Martha Stewart also.

  46. Carol says:

    I think this is very apporpriate attire for work. Personally I’d wear shoes that were a bit more classic or dressy. But all in all it’s a great look. A low wedge (all brown) or even leopard print or solid brown flat, might be a better option.

  47. Maribeth says:

    I agree with the most of what the experts say except Lovey Dash’s take on the shoes. Flats & kitten heels are wonderful, but unless I’m mistake this woman seems on the petite side and the height of the wedge for her looks to me to be perfect.

  48. Barbara R. says:

    The only thing that looks professional is the blouse and the colors. The sweater is not flattering. It makes her look old and does not work with the pants. I think the pants should be longer to make her look taller and slender. I think it is Martha Stewart , who is beautiful but could use a stylist/help.

  49. Christine says:

    I like the combination of colors/textures but I have reservations about the cropped pants. I think it’s too casual a look for work. I agree the cardigan should be left open.

  50. JoAnn says:

    I really like the outfit, but have to agree on the shoes — maybe a sandal with a small heel or flats would look better

  51. Sarah Baldwin says:

    I, too, like the combination of fabrics, but I agree with Susan Hersh. The first thing I noticed was the ill-fitting cardigan, which doesn’t flatter the wearer’s backside. Love the link she provided to the Eileen Fisher cardigan!

    Sarah Baldwin, Owner
    Bella Luna Toys

  52. Dallas Arts Salon says:

    I am not crazy about the blouse and sweater – too “mousey” but love everything else.

  53. Adrian says:

    I don’t think you see the woman but you do see the clothes and I can truthfully say i don’t agree with your experts. I don’t think the clothes are flattering nor are they professional. I think if she had on a suit in those neutral colors with a splash of color in the blouse, the woman not the clothes would be seen.

  54. Lisa says:

    I agree, with reservation. The subtle mix of hue and texture is just wonderful. However, if she works in a traditional company, she’s way out of step in a cropped pant and espadrilles. If it’s fashion/lifestyle, fine.

  55. Alene says:

    I agree with some of what you say. I do not like the shoes at all. Her look is very classic, and classic flats or a tiny heel would look better. I also don’t like the sweater. It doesn’t flatter her from the back at all. I always grab a look of me from the rear before I step out in the morning! You are coming and going, don’t forget!! By the way, might this be Martha Stewart? Just a guess.


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