Archive | Business Casual RSS feed for this section

Things I’m Loving Now

11 Sep

Fall is upon us, people! Let’s get excited!  If you want to showcase your autumnal enthusiasm, might I recommend this polish?

Fall Sparkles

Fall Sparkles

This is OPI “DS Indulgence” which I randomly picked at a pedicure and fell in love with.  It has just the perfect amount of sparkle without being gloppy or over the top with glitter and is a little more orange than the photo shows.  I love it.

As Labor Day is behind us now, I decided it was time to bring out my new beauty, purchased during the most recent Kate Spade surprise sale:

Hello, my pretty.

Hello, my pretty.

I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant, and I’m trying to navigate the exact opposite seasons than I experienced during my first pregnancy.  Last time I was at my largest during the summer, so I wore a ton of skirts and dresses.  This time I needed some serious work pants, and I caught a Gap friends and family sale (that included maternity!) recently and had some success.  I picked up these and these.  I highly recommend both of these pants in terms of quality and fit, especially because they come in both ankle and long.  Last time around I made do with a pair of black full panel pants from Target, and while they did the job, the panel and the length were both too long.  Which probably  means I just needed a tailor, but I never got around to that.  Plus they attracted pet hair like whoa.  Anyway, these pants are super fantastic.

I’m also thinking I’ll have to layer to get the most out of my wardrobe this fall and winter.  Key in this endeavor is comfortable pieces in bright/interesting colors, like this top, which I just picked up on sale at Old Navy:

IMG_2130[1]

I wore this to work today with black pants and a long silver necklace and I think it worked out pretty well.  I’m also in love with this dress, which is easy to throw a cardigan over and I will probably pair with tights and boots this fall/winter if I ever find any black boots FOR THE LOVE. I have a similar one in black, also purchased at the Gap F&F sale.  They are both very “Hi! Here is my belly!” clingy, but, they are in dark colors and I’m trying to embrace the belly this time around as much as possible.  I mean, there’s really no avoiding it, right?

I know I’ve mentioned my problem with gold shoes, but I found these Born gold flats in the clearance rack at Macy’s this summer (I think I got them for 40% off of the sale price of $45) and they were the only pair and they were in my size so be quiet, I had to have them.  They are SO comfy and I will likely wear them a lot this fall.  Maybe even with conservative tunics and leggings if I am brave enough to try that at work.

IMG_2131[1]

Have you scored anything you are loving lately?

Sandal Recommendations

5 Jun

I recently made two awesome wedge sandal purchases so naturally I wanted share.

The first are these Seychelles:

 

seychelles

Gale Force

I really like these because even though they have a basic T strap shape, the verticalish line of the top straps draws the eye up and doesn’t make my legs look too stumpy, which is an effect I like to avoid.  They are also really comfy and the straps are delicate enough that they look good with more feminine skirts and dresses, which is a bonus.

I also really wanted this pair of Kork-ease, but I wasn’t ready to drop quite that much money on another pair of sandals:

kork ease

Whiskey Sponch

Look what I found at DSW (and for which I also used a $10 coupon!):

FS sandal

Franco Sarto Farley Wedge

The DSW site doesn’t have it in the beige color I bought anymore, and when I bought mine in store the clerk told me these shoes were crazy popular in all colors.  I have worn them through one work day so far and I can report they are very comfortable.  The leather is really soft, too.

Have you made any great sandal purchases so far this summer?

 

 

Disguising Casual Dresses as Office Wear

24 May

When I chose 31 items to wear during May for Mission: Put Together, I picked a handful of dresses, including 3 sleeveless, jersey dresses. By themselves, they are more suitable for a backyard barbecue than sitting in an office, but I’ve managed to make them work at work. Granted, a couple of caveats are in my favor:

  1. My office is incredibly casual. “Business casual” is a stretch for most people, and my outfits probably wouldn’t fly at a typical pharmaceutical company.
  2. I almost always wear closed-toed shoes at work. It’s not a rule, but I feel more professional in them.

Here are 3 ways I disguised my casual dresses for the office:

Sun dresses at the office

Layer
I layered a chambray shirt from Old Navy under this striped dress from Forever 21. This dress has some structure from the box pleats at the waist, but it reads pretty junior on its own. Add ruffle flats from Target and a statement necklace from Charming Charlie, and I think it looks like a modern Girl Friday, even though I’m almost sure that term is offensive now. I’ve also done this layering trick with my black v-neck dress from the middle picture.

Belt
This is my favorite jersey dress from Target (I can’t find the one I have, but it’s kiiind of like this one, without the tie; it’s a basic v-neck, faux wrap-style dress with an elastic waist), and I love wearing it to work because it’s so comfortable. To add some structure and cinch in the waist, especially with this loosey-goosey jersey cardigan from J. Crew Factory, I added a skinny patent leather belt (J. Crew). I couldn’t resist wearing my purple Target flats, but I don’t think it’s too matchy because the shades of the cardigan and shoes are different. This is the same trick I used when I was traveling for work last year.

Jacket
This striped, strappy dress comes off very young (it’s legitimately from the juniors section) and is not appropriate for work alone, so I added a navy cotton jacket from Gap and kept it buttoned all day. The jacket is casual — unlined, eyelet trim, 3/4-sleeve — but it gives the idea of a businesswear silhouette effectively. I paired those pieces with mustard flats (Target)  and a flower brooch (LOFT) keep the outfit light and feminine.

Ideas for wearing button-down shirts

16 May

I’ve been participating in RA’s Mission: Put Together (M:PT) and last week I asked everyone in the pool what else I could do with button-down shirts. I almost always wear them unbuttoned with a neutral tank top underneath, but that gets pretty boring. I’ve been trying some new things through the M:PT challenge, including being brave enough to wear it completely buttoned. It sounds like it shouldn’t take bravery to do that, but I’ve always been just a little too busty to fit the proportions of button-down shirts and no one likes to see gapping!

Day 6

This top is cut pretty well for me, though, and I was pleased with how it worked! Can you believe this is the first time I’ve ever worn it buttoned?

I also tried it over a definitely not neutral top another day:

Day 13

What do you think? Do you have any other ideas for ways I can wear it? (Thanks to RA for the suggestion of rolling the sleeves!)

Get These Pants

27 Mar

I work very close to the 16th Street Mall in Denver, which is a very touristy area with restaurants and shops.  It happens that there is a Loft two blocks from my office so I frequently pop in to check for any steals.  Last week I found a pair of my favorite cut black trouser pants in my size on a sale rack.  The price had been taken off the tag, so they were likely returned, but they looked fine, so I asked how much they were.  They were. . .$4.88.  That is a good deal in my book!  There was also a table nearby of straight legged pants in black and cute colors for $40ish so as I had extra time I tried a black pair on.  YOU NEED THESE PANTS:

IMG_0872[1]I realize you can tell nothing from this picture, but I tried.  They are so comfortable, and just the perfect cut, especially for spring/summer.  I probably could have sized down on mine, but I get a little nervous about tight-in-the-tushy pants for work.  They have a side-zipper which I love for a smooth line.  It appears they have them in other fits as well, if the Marisa is not your thing.  They were seen in Glamour apparently, so, there you go – if you don’t believe me, Glamour never lies.

Lightening Up Your Tops for Spring

7 Feb

Just the other day, @TwoAdults over on Twitter linked to an adorable, fresh tee on the J Crew Factory website.  Not only is it a great piece to pick up as a basic, but the addition of the ruffle makes for a detail that brightens your wardrobe just a little for Spring.

Image

Since I’m constantly trying to update my style (a difficult task when you work in an really casual environment where anything goes), I headed to my favorite shopping sites to find some more items with fun details to update my basic looks:

Some people say mean things about peplum.  While I understand the concern, I also think it’s a bit misplaced.  Like a lot of trends, peplum works best in certain fabrics and certain lengths (for example, I need a wide piece of fabric below the waist seam.  Anything less than about four inches is a RUFFLE. NOT PEPLUM.)

Nordstrom is carrying this soft version in a stripe by Splendid, one of my very favorite brands due to the AWESOME fabric and great drape.  It’s a bit on the spendy side, but the quality is SO good that I’d consider it a sensible splurge.

Image

I actually just bought this peplum top (it says Sweater on the site, and while it’s sweater fabric it’s also thin and not overly warm) from LOFT and I want to wear it every day.  I bought two colors because I couldn’t get enough AND it’s only $29.50 on the site right now.  (Or hold out, I got mine a bit cheaper due to a 50% Off sale!)

Image

Several years ago I bought a great black cotton crochet top that I wore constantly.  I LOVED that top, but somewhere between now and then I lost it.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t just GIVE it away and it’s unlikely that I left it behind on a trip, yet I continue to mourn its loss.  So every spring I look for a similar style and although this one is white and polyester (and, well, ALSO technically peplum), it’s a strong contender.

Image

For something a little more meeting-with-the-boss, I thought I’d look for some easy all-over prints to layer with a blazer or cardigan.  There are lots of floral options out there right now, but I’m digging this graphic print because of the slim silhouette, strong color and elbow length sleeves.

Image

As expected, Anthropologie came up with a LONG list of great tops for sale.  But the one I want to buy first is this Basketwrap Top- its faux wrap front would be super flattering (without an accidental boob reveal) and it’s both easy to dress up with black pants and easy to dress down with a pair of white shorts and sandals.

Image

And one last thing: for everyone not in warm states, stalk these items for great sales in 4-6 weeks.  You’ll have a new wardrobe for spring/summer by the time it rolls around in your neck of the woods!

My Favorite Christmas Present and the Emerald Sweater

8 Jan

I don’t like to wear a lot of jewelry and I am not the kind of person who likes to change my jewelry everyday to match what I’m wearing. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic when other people do it and I will notice and be jealous of that but I just forget. I wear the same necklace every day. Without removing it. FASHIONISTA! I do have two other necklaces that I like but I even try to wear them OVER my everyday necklace and then I realize it looks stupid so in that case, I will remove it.  Just for fun, my everyday necklace is a simple silver chain with three things: a Saint Christopher medallion, a family tree, and a *Polish Falcon.

I’m just as boring when it comes to earrings. Same pair every day. I do remove these about every other night because if I don’t it starts to feel like the teeny tiniest sharpest blades every piercing through my ear holes and I want to die. But it takes until the pain is so severe that I finally remove them.

I am going somewhere with this post, DON’T LEAVE!

Anyway, last year? I asked for a watch for Christmas. I told my husband, “I want it to look like a mans watch. I want it big.”

He thought I was crazy. I thought he was crazy when I opened it, loved it, and he told me he got it at Meijer. Do you know what Meijer is? IT’S BASICALLY A GROCERY STORE.

He hates the mall.

I get a million compliments on this watch all the time.

photo

But that was last year. This year I asked for a beautiful sterling silver beaded bracelet and look….there it is. I LOVE IT! I saw it at a kiosk in the mall. The Silver Mountain. I think that is their website, but I don’t see anything about bracelet’s. Anyway, that was my favorite Christmas gift this year.

So, the count down has begun. Fake job is almost over. Eight days to go. I’m planning on wearing my favorite office outfits for the next 8 days because I’m kooky like that.

One of my favorite sweaters this year (er, last year?) is this sweater from Loft.

photo2

I can’t find anything like it on their site, but I do know the color is emerald. This sweater has sleeves that only go to my elbows which worries me in the cold months but this sweater is so warm! I also love the way it sits on my waist, which this pic isn’t a good example, but the way it fits is not typical of a regular sweater and it makes it sort of fun! The best part was it was on clearance for 19.99. When I bought it one of the girls working there was wearing it with a black and white striped shirt under it and I thought it was perfect so that’s how I wear it. Copy cat extraordinaire! Lucky for me, I already owned a black and white striped shirt.

So in eight days it’s back to yoga pants and hoodies, I will need to learn to get really creative!

Happy New Year!

*My 4 year old doesn’t quite understand the Polish Falcon, I knew it when he asked, “Mommy, why is there a chicken around your neck?”

Black Boots – Finally! (I hope)

2 Jan

It is now January and I have been searching for the right pair of black boots since September.  Has anyone else had this problem this year?  I probably have only myself to blame, given my general aversion to obvious trends and anything blingy.  I just found most of the black boots out there were either too motorcycle-y, too riding-y, or too blingy.  I don’t mind a little metal detail usually, but I always try to get the most bang for my buck out of my purchases, so I wanted the boots to be work-appropriate as well.  YES, I AM FRUGAL AND BORING.

I am not lying when I say I have been looking EVERYWHERE.  In stores, on-line, on people in public places.  I couldn’t even find a pair of Fryes I liked.  (I KNOW.)  I actually ordered a pair of seemingly perfect Nine West boots, only to find the zipper to be too. . .prominent.  It went all the way up the back and was exposed metal.  The boots were still cute, but I couldn’t get past the thought that they were slightly over the street-walker line, and therefore not appropriate for my work place.

I love my brown boots.  LOVE them.  I have had them about three years now and I still wear them all the time in the winter and get compliments on them constantly.  They are a cognac color, have just enough heel and the perfect toe shape, and were around $100.  They are by Arturo Chiang, which is only sold a few places (Dillards, Amazon, Piperlime.)  So I checked out that brand and think I have finally found the right pair.  I ordered them this weekend (on sale for $89!), so we’ll see next week if I’m right.

Arturo Chiang "Sam"

Arturo Chiang “Sam”

What black boots have you loved this year?

 

Holiday Office Party Outfits

21 Dec

My department holiday party was on Tuesday, and since I only just started here in May, I wasn’t sure how dressy it would be. Plus, we have no dress code at the office. Seriously, some people wear jeans, sneakers, and hoodies every single day. So I asked someone on my team, and she said, “It’s a nice place we’re going to, so you know, people dress nicer than,” and she motioned to her jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan, “this.” Uh, helpful?

On the morning of the party, I noticed that people were wearing things like dress pants, heels, shiny jacquard jackets, and blazers, so I was pretty pleased with what I picked:

Department party outfit

  • Forever 21 dress: I bought this on a semi-whim last summer, by which I mean that I bored Twitter to death by agonizing over whether it was too short for a grown woman. But I’m glad I bought it because it looks way more expensive than it was and has pockets, and I think I’m managing not to look like a teeny bopper in it. I do like it with tights.
  • Black J. Crew cardigan: my sister got this for me years ago, and I still love it. I like how it’s cropped and made of a weighty material, so it can pass for a jacket. I think this is what helps this dress from being too junior.
  • Gold Anthropologie belt for a little sparkle
  • Target tights and flats: the shoes are Merona Meaghan flats from Target, and I am so sad that I can’t find them any more. I have them in black, red, and mustard, and I sort of assumed that they would always be around. RIP, perfect cheap ruffle flats.

A couple of details:

Twisted hairdo tutorial  Green ring

  • Twisted hairstyle: mine never looks exactly like this, but I learned the side-twisting technique from Kayley. After I twist the sides, I pull all of my hair back into a ponytail and pin it into a bun.
  • Green cocktail ring from LOFT: funny story about this ring — I couldn’t find it when I was getting ready that morning, but I had a vague memory of wearing it to work, taking it off to wash my hands, and never putting it on again. So, knowing me, it must be in the pocket of another piece of clothing. I went to my closet and dug in the pockets of the pieces I would normally wear with this ring, and huzzah! I found it in the pocket of a navy shirt dress! Winner!

Anyway! This outfit made me happy. I felt festive but not blatantly HOLIDAY, and I had a really fun time with my team.

On another note, my company-wide party was last Friday, and it was Ugly Sweater-themed. Does anyone else have a problem with these? They are kind of festive and funny, but I don’t want to buy clothes I know to be ugly. Blech. As luck would have it, my husband’s sister’s husband’s mom is a kindergarten teacher, and she wears junk like this unapologetically. Fortunately for me, she doesn’t mind that people borrow from her for this exact purpose. Here’s what I wore last week:

Ugly Sweater party outfit

  • Sweater: The scene is of Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, and the toys are all 3D appliques. It even came with its own lace collar!
  • Target jersey dress
  • Evergreen Forever 21 leggings
  • Enzo Angiolini boots

I wasn’t sure if people were going to participate, so I brought my ugly sweater in a bag and belted a striped cardigan over my dress to start. But then I saw that the senior management team was wearing head-to-toe costumes (Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, Santa Claus, etc.), and I decided to go with it.

I’m getting even more mileage out of this sweater than I expected because my husband are going to a birthday party for a guy who loves everything “tacky Christmas.” I bought him one of those awful cards that sings and lights up, and I’m going to wear basically this same outfit just for him. It’s the Christmas spirit, right? Yeah, let’s go with that.

Black Friday Awesomeness at Banana Republic Outlet

7 Dec

We spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family every year, and on Black Friday, the women go shopping. Even though we never went at midnight or even the crack of dawn, we used to be a lot more hardcore about it. During the drive to the mall, we’d strategize about where to park, which route to take, meeting points if we got separated, and what kind of items everyone was looking for. Once at the mall, we would all bob and weave to optimize coverage. If I knew that a cousin was looking for a striped sweater, I grabbed anything that she might like or fit, and we would converge at the fitting rooms. We split up and combined orders to get the best bang out of our coupons, and after a few hours, we felt very accomplished, indeed.

In the past few years, though, the intensity has gone down, and a few of us just wander around for a while before going out for lunch. Maybe we buy things, maybe not. We don’t fight crowds any more, though. The checkout line at Old Navy was so bad this year that when my sister-in-law said, “Does anybody really want anything here?”, we just shook our heads and left. Ah, we can’t hack it any more.

Nonetheless, I managed to find some great deals at the Banana Republic outlet.

Banana Republic outlet sweater, Shade tee underneath, Target skinny jeans, Enzo Angiolini (via Piperlime) boots

Banana Republic outlet sweater, Shade tee underneath, Target skinny jeans, Enzo Angiolini (via Piperlime) boots

My SIL and I both got these sweater-sweatshirt-y thingies, and I love mine. It’s nice enough to pass as a put-together sweater, but it feels like a beloved hoodie. I love the shawl collar, the big buttons at the neckline, and the pockets. I probably should have gotten mine in a different color because I have a lot of teal already, but whatever, teal speaks to me. Best of all, it was marked down to $15 (originally $50)!

Gap outlet sweater, Anthropologie skirt, Banana Republic outlet belt, J. Crew necklace, Forever 21 leggings, Enzo Angiolini boots (via Piperlime)

Gap outlet sweater, Anthropologie skirt, Banana Republic outlet belt, J. Crew amber necklace, Forever 21 gray leggings, Enzo Angiolini (via Piperlime) boots

For a while now, when I’ve needed a chunky belt, I’ve been borrowing my husband’s brown belt and looping it all around to get rid of the extra length as necessary. I just couldn’t find a thick-ish, plain brown belt that I liked and wasn’t over $30. Sorry, but no, I am not paying that much for a belt. And then finally, it occurred to me that I should just look for, duh, a men’s belt. At the outlet, I spied a rack of men’s belts in the clearance section on a day when all clearance items had an additional 40% off. Yes! So I scored this brown belt for a whopping $6 (originally $30).

Banana Republic outlet dress, LOFT cardigan, Anthro belt, Target gray tights, Naturalizer boots

Banana Republic outlet dress, LOFT cardigan, Anthropologie belt, Target gray tights, Naturalizer boots

I’ve been looking for a green dress for maybe 5 years because green is my favorite color, and it seems wrong that I don’t have a go-to dress in it. But nothing has really come up as The One, so the search has been on the back burner. But on Black Friday, in the clearance section, I found a green, sleeveless dress in a stretchy polyester knit, and it was my size. My hypothetical ideal green dress wasn’t so slinky, but then I tried this one on, and, wow. I could imagine wearing it with heels and sparkly jewelry at a wedding, with flat metallic sandals and big earrings for a summer date, with flats and a cardigan at the office, and even pumps and a blazer at work event. The cowl neck wasn’t so cowl-y that I couldn’t layer over it and create a fake green skirt. It came with a belt of the same material, but I could imagine pairing different belts with it instead. And the dress was so green! There was no way I was leaving without it. That’s when I examined the price tag. Originally $70, the dress had been marked down to $23, but with the extra 40% off, it was … FOURTEEN DOLLARS. Woo!