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The 9-to-5 Dress

At a certain stage of your career, you don’t need bold colors or eye-catching frills to draw attention to yourself at work. What you want is a simple 9-to-5 dress that’s elegant and understated. The following dresses fit that bill perfectly. Chic and contemporary, they’re also very sober — designed to make people notice you, not your clothes — and that restraint conveys confidence. VICTORIA BECKHAM: The slenderizing shape, below-the-knee cut and elbow-length sleeves of this gray wool felt dress make it especially attractive for women over 45. And the front slit (less provocative than one in the back) enables you to walk comfortably. ZARA: Another gray wool dress with a below-the-knee length, this one is sleeveless, which means you need arms like Michelle Obama’s to pull it off. For most of us, the long-sleeved Studio Mermaid Dress is a safer choice. Feel free to push those sleeves up a bit, for a more relaxed look. BODEN: If you prefer a skirt that’s above the knee, check out the machine-washable Libby, which has three-quarter-length sleeves and comes in several colors. Its jersey fabric makes it the most comfortable dress here. But whatever your preference, move quickly: Holiday sales are on and this is your last chance to shop for the current season. — Lola Ehrlich and John Birmingham

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