Lace can be a tricky subject. While I know it helps women to feel feminine, it can also send an impression of sexuality, which is not appropriate in the workplace. It may also signal that you are overdressed for the occasion. So, can you wear lace in the workplace?

I believe you can if you take care to follow a few simple rules:

  1. Lace camisoles are great for the office when they are used with blouses that show a bit too much cleavage. Remember that the camisole is supposed to cover the cleavage entirely. If the lace pattern is too large the cleavage may show through, thereby negating the purpose of the camisole.
  2. The item of clothing should be in a timeless style: pencil skirt or sheath dress. Avoid full skirt styles as they usually look too “little girly” when done in lace.
  3. Lace needs to be “anchored” down. This could mean that you wear a lace skirt with a solid blouse; lace sheath dress with a blazer or a cardigan; lace shell with a conservative suit; a strong necklace piece.
  4. Lace always needs to be worn with some sort of under piece. That undergarment should be:
    1. Securely attached to the main article of clothing so that the lace does not move separately than the under piece.
    2. Completely fill in behind the lace area. Avoid any “skin showing through” as this takes the lace to a sheer level, again leaning toward a sexy rather than successful look. An exception to this is the arm fabric which can remain lacy.
    3. The lace and the under piece should be the same color. This causes the effect to be more of a texture rather than giving the illusion of wearing a sheer material.

This Muse Crochet Neck Lace Overlay Dress (top right) is a good example of a work-appropriate lace dress. The bodice of the dress is completely lined but the sleeves are open lace, which causes the dress to feel more summery. In contrast, this Aidan Mattox Lace Sheath Dress with its white background and black lace is too over the top for a work environment.

This Burberry London Lace Pencil Skirt (middle) is a good example of a professional way to wear lace. I can easily picture this with a simple navy blazer to add a more conservative twist to the mix.

Here is a challenge . . . is this T Tahari ‘Paula’ skirt and exception to Rule 4 above? Actually this skirt is considered eyelet. What’s the difference? Well, lace is generally considered to be constructed with a more delicate fabric. So, I think this skirt is appropriate for the office. It still has a classic shape and should drape nicely over anyone with a bit of extra weight on their hips!

This Type Z Kristah Belted Lace Skirt is thrown in here for a bit of shock value. This skirt screams something, but nothing about that scream is professional!

What are your thoughts on wearing lace in the workplace?