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Chambray 5 Ways

7 Jun

I know, I know, I said that I didn’t want a chambray shirt.

But after a while the tunic I bought just wasn’t cutting it. I relegated it to the swimsuit cover-up section of my dresser and kept half an eye out for a chambray shirt that didn’t make me feel like The Hulk.

Randomly, at Old Navy, I found a chambray shirt in my size for … $6? What! I tried it on, and it was okay. A bit boxy for my taste, but the shoulders fit, and I could roll up the sleeves comfortably. Also, um, SIX DOLLARS. So I bought it, and I’m so glad I did.

In May, I included this shirt in my 31 items to wear for the month in order to figure out how to wear it better, and it turned out to be one of my most frequently worn items with 5 occurrences. Here are all the ways I wore it:

Chambray 5 ways

  • May 6: layered under a dress
  • May 13: cuffed under a cardigan
  • May 20: untucked with a statement necklace
  • May 27: unbuttoned over a tank
  • May 30: knotted over a dress

Of these 5 outfits, 3 of them included things I’d never done before (untucked, unbuttoned, and knotted), and I ended up really liking all of them, especially the knot. I’m definitely doing that again this summer with more dresses. Also, I just noticed that, 4 out of 5 times, I wore this shirt on a Monday. Huh. Monday is chambray day, I guess?

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I got my money’s worth out of this shirt. Again, it doesn’t fit perfectly, and I could probably find a much better one if I wanted to tear my hair out searching and spend a lot of money, but I don’t want to do either of those things, and this is Good Enough. As much as I railed against the button-down, this shirt has been a great addition to my closet.

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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.

I made a new dress!

23 May

Ok, so I sort of made a new dress.

I’m doing the 31×31 challenge associated with May’s Mission: Put Together so I only have 31 items of clothing (including shoes and accessories!) to wear for the month. By last week I was getting sick of my options. One of the things I picked was a long-ish brown skirt:

Day 7

I was brainstorming ways to make it look different – tuck a shirt in? wear the skirt high so it’s shorter? – but didn’t have a lot of options with the other items in my 31×31 closet. I saw my favorite red dress hanging there, though, and had an idea:

Day 15

The brown skirt is full enough it looks fine (great, even!) with the extra fabric of the dress underneath. I love this colorblock look so much I think I prefer it to either item on it’s own!

Have you ever had a style brainstorm and came up with a non-traditional way to wear something?

Purple and Green Theme

10 May

I narrowed down my wardrobe to 31 items this month for Mission: Put Together, and I found that this exercise sort of distilled it into its essential elements. When I’m forced to limit myself, I will choose skinny jeans, cardigans, skirts/dresses, and flats. In the same way, 2 weeks into this experiment, I see that I subconsciously chose a lot of purple and green. Out of 10 outfits so far, 6 of them have included 1 or both of these colors:

Green and purple

And this doesn’t even include when I wore my colorblock skirt that has a strip of green at the hem.

Now, the green thing doesn’t surprise me, but the purple kind of does. I didn’t intend to focus on these colors when I chose my 31 items, but it happened anyway. Given such restrictive parameters, it’s interesting to see emerging themes.

What’s a theme in your wardrobe?

P.S. It’s not too late to jump in to Mission: Put Together and earn a chance to win free jeans!

Wearing What I’m NOT Wearing

26 Apr

Recently, I culled my wardrobe down to the 31 items that I’ll wear for the whole month of May for Mission: Put Together.* But guess what! It’s not May yet! So I have been trying to wear the pieces that didn’t make the cut before they are off-limits in — yikes — 4 days. Here’s what I wore this week and what I’ll miss wearing the most in May:

Sunday-Tuesday

Sunday:

  • Shade striped blazer
  • Old Navy knot scarf
  • Target cobalt captoe flats

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • LOFT Modern Skinny (Petite) purple jeans (sob) and striped tunic

Wednesday-Friday

Wednesday

  • Forever 21 dress: ah, there you are again! This is like the spring version of this dress styling, ha.
  • LOFT white cardigan: I bought this with a gift card and a 40% off coupon recently, and I love it. I wonder if I should have included it in my 31 items…

Thursday

Friday

  • LOFT green cardigan: I have SO MUCH green in my 31 items already that I thought this cardigan would be over the top. But … I will miss it!
  • LOFT paisley flats: big sigh for these.

I still have a few days left to squeeze in some other things I really like to wear but won’t be able to soon, like my red jeans, orange skirt, and a few dresses. And funny t-shirts! And my other scarves! Gah. This experiment in May should be interesting, huh?

* Want to try the 31 for 31 challenge? Enter by April 30! And if you’d rather not restrict your wardrobe, just participate in the Mission: Put Together challenges — both options earn you the chance to win free jeans!

A Week of Favorites

15 Mar

Last Wednesday, I turned 30! So I decided to wear outfits with my favorite things all week: RA's favorites

These were my favorite pieces from each outfit:

Monday:

  • White House Black Market red jeans
  • Anthropologie feather top

Tuesday:

  • Anthropologie purple skirt
  • Pink paisley scarf from my husband’s grandmother

Wednesday: birthday!

Thursday: I felt a little prairie in this, but I got 2 compliments at work, so, okay?

  • Anthropologie orange skirt
  • Old Navy chambray shirt: I said I’d never buy one, but this one was $6, and it fits, mostly. Good enough.

Friday: birthday dinner!

  • J. Crew Factory skirt: first time out, but I love it. Instant favorite!
  • ILY Couture bubble necklace

I felt so peppy and confident in these outfits, and it makes me wonder why I bother to wear anything that’s not my favorite. I feel like I should only wear my favorite things for a few months and get rid of whatever’s left, you know?

Success

20 Feb

I put together an outfit last week that reminded me of a few style lessons I’ve learned over the years, but don’t always apply. The result was cute and got an embarrassing amount of compliments. Seriously. It must have been a slow Friday because the women in my office actually were emailing about this outfit and one purposely stopped by my office to check it out.

greenoutfit

Lesson #1: Wear what you love.

Every piece in this outfit is something I wholeheartedly love and feel good in. Confidence and comfort are the best accessories.

 

Lesson #2: Mix high and low.

This little black dress was a bit pricey. I bought it a few years ago for a party, but specifically looked for something classic I could repurpose under a jacket or cardigan for work. It’s a basic black sheath dress from White House/Black Market with some seaming around the waist. I don’t remember the exact price — it was more than $100 but less than $200. But everything else in this outfit was CHEAP. The tights were $3, at most, on sale at Target. The scarf and sweater were from the Loft sale rack — I first bought the scarf as a cover up for nursing Beastie, who is now 3 — and the booties were $15.

 

Lesson #3: Play to your strengths.

Neon green is not a color for everyone and it’s not a color that’s always trendy. But it is a color that looks good on me, a fact I’ve known since I was in middle school. At 12 or 13, I had a neon green turtleneck that yielded compliments every time I wore it.

 

What style successes have you had lately?

 

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.

What I Wore

23 Oct

Monday:

Skirt: Banana Republic, thrifted

Shirt: Kohl’s

Sweater: Target (still for sale)

Boots: Not Rated

General Thoughts: I love this skirt a lot: the shape is one of my favorites and it has pockets, which I adore. I love this sweater – it’s soft, cuddly and the drapey open-front cardigan thing is one of my favorite trends right now. That said, I think the combination of sweater/skirt here was a mistake, leaving me looking boxy and without any waist. I think a simple long sleeve shirt, tucked in, or a cropped jacket or sweater would have been a better choice.

Tuesday:

Skirt: Ann Taylor

Blouse: Kohl’s.

Scarf: dug out of the back of my car after an unfortunate coffee/pothole incident.

Shoes: R2

General Thoughts: I am trying to branch out and wear more color; most of my professional wardrobe consists of gray, black, navy, and white. This shirt was on clearance for very cheap and provided a nice amount of color. Every time I wear it I get compliments on it.

(Also, a side note: I hate my haircut. Hate hate. It’s mom hair.)

Thursday:

Pants: Ann Taylor

Tank: Express

Cardigan: Target

Shoes: Charles by Charles David.

Necklace: hand-beaded by a friend.

General Thoughts: First, I should have zoomed in, sorry. Second, how boring is this? I do love the shoes (which are totally invisible in this picture, but they’re a nice black and gray round-toe pump), but could this outfit be any more bland? You can see why I need color, right? Also, I lost a little weight since buying these pants and I need to have them taken in; they bag and crease and fit poorly.

I started a new job a couple of weeks ago (so excited!). This means my former wardrobe of jeans, sneakers, and a rotating selection of long sleeve t-shirts is no longer an option. My professional wardrobe has been boxed in my basement, and most of it was purchased three years and thirty pounds ago, so I really need to update it, but need to do so on the cheap; suggestions for your favorite places to find good professional clothes at a steal?

Easy, Breezy Favorite Outfit

27 Aug

I’ve really enjoyed everyone’s favorite outfit posts, so I decided to continue the trend with my favorite summer weekend look.

This picture doesn’t show the detail very well (and thankfully hides my zombie eyes), but I absolutely love this shirt. I’ve had it for at least 5 years. It still looks pretty nice since I dry cleaned it for the first four years and I try not to wash it every time. I don’t even have a label in the shirt anymore, so I can’t tell you the designer. I will say, though, that what makes it is the little detail. The side tie, cap sleeves, detail cut outs in the front and a little bit of pleating in the back make this an easy shirt to dress up or dress down. I usually hate shirts that tie or bubble at the waist, but the material is sheer, so it is still figure-flattering on me. If you find another shirt like this, buy it and tell me where I can buy it. Here is a close-up on the detail in the front.

The pants are linen cropped pants from Theory. I’ve had them just as long as the shirt and you can attribute that to the fact that they are dry clean only and wrinkle very quickly, so they haven’t been worn terribly often. You can often find Theory pants at TJ Maxx and Marshalls and they are a great brand.

Of course, my favorite part of the outfit are the accessories! I got the bracelet, and a matching white one, from ABC Carpet & Home. If you’re ever in New York, you should check out this store. It has a ton of really cool furnishings, gifts, accessories and trinkets at a variety of price points. I probably didn’t pay more than $15 total for both of these bracelets.

And finally, my earrings. I received these as a birthday present this year from Will. They are Kendra Scott earrings in turquoise. I opted for the smaller Elle style over the larger Danielle. They are spendy at $52, but if you sign up for the email you get 15% off. Also, they gouge you in shipping costs, so it may be worth your while to find them at Nordstrom, Saks or Bloomingdales.

What I love about this outfit is that it is easy, looks effortlessly stylish and is comfortable on hot summer days.