How to Incorporate Ethnic Prints into a Conservative Office Wardrobe?

May 14, 2024

When it comes to establishing your personal style at the workplace, there are certain unwritten rules that you often need to abide by. Dressing conservatively does not mean that you must stick to a muted color palette or wear the same old business suit. Let's infuse some creativity into our office wardrobe with ethnic prints, while still maintaining the professional aesthetic. This article aims to guide you in incorporating ethnic prints into your office attire without crossing the boundaries of business casual style.

Break Away from Monotones with Ethnic Shirts

In the realm of business casual, shirts act as the backbone of any outfit. A well-tailored shirt in solid colors is a classic choice, but it might also become repetitive after a while. That's where the ethnic prints come in.

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You don't need to entirely replace your shirt collection with ethnic versions. Start by introducing subtle prints into your wardrobe. Go for a shirt that has a small ethnic print on its cuffs or collar. Pair it with your regular black or grey pants and you have an outfit that's business on the top, party on the sides.

On days when you feel a little more adventurous, go for a shirt in a full ethnic print. Keep the color scheme on the darker side, like navy, black, or earth-tones, to maintain the conservative aura. Balance the busy print by pairing it with a solid color skirt or pants.

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Experiment with Formal Dresses

Dresses are versatile and easy to wear, which makes them a staple in women's business casual clothing. The right dress can make you look both elegant and professional.

Swap your plain black dress for a version with an understated ethnic print. An ethnic print dress can be a tasteful and exciting upgrade to your usual formal wear. Opt for dresses in darker hues with smaller prints so they don't overpower your look.

A wrap dress in a subtle, sophisticated ethnic print can be chic and comfortable. You can also try a shirt dress in a muted ethnic print for a crisp, office-ready look.

Accessorize with Style

Accessories are a perfect way to incorporate ethnic prints into your office attire without making drastic changes. They allow you to play around with different styles while keeping your primary outfit business-appropriate.

Consider a tie in a soft ethnic print to add a pop of color and personality to your suit. Scarves in ethnic prints can also offer a trendy twist to your formal clothing. A silk scarf with a stunning ethnic pattern can add elegance to your look.

Handbags are another way to subtly introduce ethnic prints. A structured leather bag in an ethnic print can add a little edge to your conservative office outfit.

Add Interest with Ethnic Print Shoes

Shoes might be the last thing on your mind when you think of ethnic prints, but they can make a statement. A pair of heels or flats in an ethnic print can become the focal point of your outfit.

A monochrome outfit with a pair of ethnic print shoes can be very striking. If you're wearing a printed dress or shirt, opt for shoes in a print that matches a color from your outfit to create a cohesive look.

Remember, the key to rocking ethnic print shoes is subtlety. Keep the rest of your outfit neutral so your shoes can take center stage.

The Bold Step: Ethnic Print Suits

If you're comfortable with your style and ready to make a bold statement, an ethnic print suit might be your next step. It's important to remember though, this is not a look for everyone. It requires confidence and a certain level of fashion savviness.

Choose a suit with a smaller, more subtle print to ensure it's not overly loud or distracting. Balance out the boldness of the suit by pairing it with a solid color shirt. Black is always a good choice as it allows the print of the suit to shine without clashing.

While a full-on ethnic print suit might be too much for some, you don't have to completely abandon the idea. You can opt for a blazer or pants in an ethnic print, and pair it with a solid color counterpart to still incorporate the trend into your wardrobe.

Incorporating ethnic prints into your conservative office wardrobe can be a fun way to express your personal style while still adhering to the dress code. It's all about finding the right balance between your personality and professionalism. Remember, fashion is about experimenting and stepping out of your comfort zone. So go ahead and infuse some ethnic flavor into your office attire!

Spice Up Your Outfit with Ethnic Print Ties and Scarves

One of the simplest and most effective ways to incorporate ethnic prints into a conservative business professional wardrobe is through the use of ties and scarves. Ties and scarves act as statement pieces in an otherwise traditional outfit, allowing you to express your personal style without breaking the dress code.

A tie in a subtle ethnic print can add an element of intrigue and personality to your standard button shirt and suit combination. Opt for ties in darker shades with smaller patterns to ensure a professional look. Remember, as an image consultant would advise, the tie should complement, not overpower, the rest of your outfit.

Scarves, on the other hand, can be a great addition to a woman's business casual dress or blouse. A silk scarf with a stunning ethnic pattern can add a touch of elegance to your professional attire. The key here is to choose scarves in colors that blend well with your outfit. This way, the scarf adds a dash of ethnic flavor without being too distracting.

In the colder months, a woolen scarf with an ethnic print can add a layer of warmth and style to your outfit. Match it with a thumb dress in a solid color and closed toe leather shoes for a chic yet professional look.

Make a Statement with Ethnic Print Handbags and Shoes

Accessories such as handbags and shoes are another excellent way to incorporate ethnic prints into your conservative office wardrobe. Being less prominent, these items allow you to play around with bolder prints without violating any dress codes.

A structured leather bag in a vibrant ethnic pattern can add a touch of bohemian style to your office attire. Despite being an accessory, a tastefully chosen ethnic print bag can act as the centerpiece of your outfit. Choose a bag that contrasts well with your outfit but also ties in with your overall color palette.

Shoes with ethnic prints can also make a stylish statement. Pair an ethnic print flat or heel with a monochrome outfit for a look that stands out. When choosing ethnic print shoes, remember to keep the rest of your outfit in solid colors. This way, your shoes become the focal point, adding a stylish twist to your professional business outfit.


Breaking away from the typical business casual fashion doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your personal style. With the right balance and careful selection, ethnic prints can indeed find their way into your conservative office wardrobe. Be it through subtly printed shirts, tastefully patterned ties and scarves, or statement accessories like handbags and shoes, there are numerous ways to add a dash of ethnicity to your professional attire.

Remember, the key is to keep the rest of your outfit fairly muted, allowing the ethnic print to take center stage. Whether you're going for a smart casual look or a black tie event, ethnic prints can add an element of excitement and uniqueness to your outfit. So, don't shy away from experimenting. As the boho chic trend gains momentum, it's time to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the vibrant world of ethnic prints. After all, fashion is all about expressing yourself and having fun with it. All rights reserved to your personal style!