"It was the oldest sound in the world. Souls flying away." The Secret Life of Bees

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

business casual

First of all, if you haven't already checked out the reader submission outtake post over at Respect the Shoes, you should (here it is)! Lisa has the best ideas for reader submission outfits, and this one is hilarious!

These two outfits are "work" outfits. The top one I wore today and the bottom one is from last week. The dress code at my office is fairly strict/conservative. Depending on what I have going on during the day (meetings/clients/etc.), I may or may not be able to push the dress code limits:) The 2 days that I wore these outfits were definitely days I needed to follow the rules and be somewhat professional.

One of the biggest challenges I have with my wardrobe is feeling like everything is separated into 2 categories - one for work (like the two outfits below) and one for play. I don't really like my work clothes. They seem boring, dark, and not "me" enough. I am working on finding pieces that I like and that are "me", but that are also appropriate for my office. This has been challenging.

Please share your tips! I would love some advice on making my "work" clothes less boring and also making my closet less divided.

Top: Anthropologie Stratus Cloud top
Cardigan: J. Crew
Pants: J. Crew
Shoes: Dansko
Necklace: Forever 21

Cami: J. Crew
Cardigan: J. Crew
Skirt: J. Crew
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Indigo by Clarks Jungle Java pump

All of the J. Crew pieces in this outfit were purchased during my recent trip to the J. Crew Clearance Center!


  1. Oooh I'm probably a bad person to ask because my work is really Anthro friendly. But I'd say stick with layering and color! You can do a lot with just those two rules. I like pencil skirts in all colors and cardis in all colors. Then I mix it up with cute ruffle blouses and tees to match. Also, a huge thing is acccesories. Colorful necklaces and earrings does wonders! Hope this helps.

  2. I have no tips. No fashion tips at all. But I can relate. I'm finding that it is all in the experimentation....forcing yourself to mix and match and find ways to make things work. I think that's what the 30x30 has done for me.

    The Auspicious Life

  3. Hi Kristin, That's a tricky one for me because it depends on how *strict* they are. But I would maybe wear skinny belts with a little color like maybe J crew skinny ( Red ) belt. They also have them in a cute pink, Leopard. That would dress it up without it looking boring. Maybe find some Leopard print pumps if your wearing black. That usually is a great look with the matching belt. You second look is really good the way it is. And they don't look boring, but totally understand you wanted a bit more of a *Pop*.Right? I guess it depends on what YOU like mostly. You seem very cheery and I know having to dress a certain way that is not what you like can get annoying. Let me know what you think about my idea. Or you can also place a mini Polyvore on here and add your pieces and we can try to give you more ideas. Tara did that for her Valentines day date. I participate and it was fun. Let me know :) But you look great as always!

  4. A) I love your shoes in the second outfit.
    B) I want a J. Crew clearance center in Minnesota
    C) My work is super laid back, so tips aren't easy however I say just add more color!
    D) I completely see the difference in how you feel,its written all over your face(I happen to still like your work stuff I have to add)!
    E) A tip I have taken to heart, from Tara over at the LGBC is to pick up a pair of vibrant, red shoes, would that be work appropriate?

  5. I agree with the others that little pops of color where you can would help (especially a sneaky skinny belt!).

    I used to work in a women's suit store (yawn), so I learned about the associations of certain colors in certain jobs, etc (like red can be bad in some jobs because it is a "power color"). And for some jobs, you just have to be uber-conservative (grey, blue, black), but I would recommend a colorful necklace too, with great beads or gemstones, someting like Bones always wears. :)

  6. Hi Kristin, a red or gold skinny belt would finish off both the outfits above and give it that pop of color. Or colorful shoes. I've been inspired by Anjali's vibrant shoe collection. Or if you're bold and brave, maybe some colorful/ patterned tights. But ultimately, wear what makes your comfortable. It's hard for me to work when I'm ill at ease. oh some other ideas - tissue or silk scarfs/ a bracelet that pops. btw, i hope you received the last email i sent you, please let me know if you have :)

  7. Cindi - Thanks for the suggestions:) I could definitely use some color. I also think that making my work outfits more complex by adding layers/jewelry would be helpful. I need to not be so scared of over-doing it!

    Linda - I don't think I'm quite ready for the 30 x 30 challenge, but I can definitely see how it would force you to get creative!

    Gabby - Yes! I wanted more of a pop! I really like your idea of using a colorful skinny belt. Red would have been perfect for the top outfit:) I do have a few skinny belts, but for some reason, I never reach for them. I think it's because I feel like I am going to over do it and add too much or something. I will challenge myself to try that. I have actually never played around with polyvore, but I should. That's a great idea! Thanks for the suggestions!

    Minnesota Maven - Thanks:) The clearance center is pretty great! It definitely makes going to visit my family (all the way across the country) easier! I like the red shoes idea! I do have some nice colorful pumps, but right now I'm stuck wearing the dansko's most days because of a foot injury. This won't be the case for much longer though! The red shoes would definitely be appropriate on most days. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Terrie - Thanks for the advice! Our employee manual actually says something like "we recommend darker colors, such as black, gray, and navy". I think that is one reason I am lacking in the color department on some days. However, they are clear that "it is just a suggestion", so I have some wiggle room. I like the colorful necklace idea. Thanks!

    Lisa - Thank you! Anjali has some of the most beautiful shoes. I love her collection. Once my foot injury heals (that's why I have to wear the dansko shoes right now), I will definitely be sporting some colorful footwear!!! Unfortunately, patterned tights are not allowed at my office (crazy, right?). I could play around with more colorful ones though. Thanks so much for the suggestions! Yep,I got the email (replied earlier today)!

  8. Hey you working girl!!! Oh this is totally a tough one, but a bit of brainstorming will do! First of all I think you need to write down the rules just like the one where you responded to Terrie about the "suggestions" cause when you finally acknowledge what your boundaries you can get a better direction on where you can play.

    I do hear ya though. I work in an environment that is male driven so in order for people to take me seriously I need to dress in a way where I will be respected by my presentation. That does not mean you need to only stick to the "idea" of what work outfit is all about.

  9. Midory - That is great advice! It is hard because some days I feel like I have a lot of wiggle room, and other days I feel like I really need to follow the dress code very strictly (it all depends on what I'm doing that day/who I'm meeting with/etc.). Either way, having a clear understanding of the boundaries is key. Writing it out sounds very helpful. Thanks!