Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘business casual’

Purple and black watercolor top, jean jacket, pencil skirt, red Cole haan heels

Purple and black watercolor top, jean jacket, pencil skirt, red Cole haan heels

Since I posted my Argument in Favor of Prints, I’ve been thinking how hard to judge a print on its own.  It’s all about the outfit.  Since I’m now worried about being all typecast as the Woman Who Wears Florals, I gathered some print-inclusive outfit combinations in an attempt to demonstrate that I do not look dowdy and lame. I hope (there are more floral prints here, with color and camisoles  ). 

These pictures don’t zoom in on the print, but that’s kind of my point.  I’m going for the Overall Effect that you’d get seeing me walk down the street.  Opinions? I know this isn’t everyone’s style (this is all my business casual work stuff).   Would these outfits work better or worse without prints? how would you adapt them to your own tastes if you were to dress Robin-Business-Casual for the day?

Ann Taylor Loft cardigan, gray skirt, Circa Joan & David heels.

Ann Taylor Loft cardigan, gray skirt, Circa Joan & David heels.

 

Bellatrix floral top (probably about $6 at The Rack by now) with gray suit

Bellatrix floral top (probably about $6 at The Rack by now) with gray suit

 

My husband is 8 inches taller than me, which apparently adds 10 pounds when he's the one taking my picture. I do think this is cute, though.

No matter how much you love someone, it is hard to be photographed by them when they are 8 inches taller because it adds like 10 pounds. I do think this is cute, though.

 

Target skirt that got ruiined in the dryer, brown top, gray Talbots jacket

Target skirt that got ruined in the dryer, brown top, gray Talbots jacket. No I do not know where the baby went in this shot, weird.

 

Kind of animal-ish print, gray skirt, tortoiseshell pumps

Kind of animal-ish print, gray skirt, tortoiseshell pumps. Baby is just about to run into the frame, I cropped her out.

Read Full Post »

When dmama ruled out all pastels the other day, I started thinking about color.  I like a lot of light, bright and fruity colors. Are those pastels?  In the spirit of research, I found a digram describing color along the three aspects: hue, saturation and color:

color

color

Layman’s summary: hue is yellow, blue, or red or what.  Saturation is whether the color is bright or pale (eg adding white).  Value is how clear or muddy it is (eg adding black).  If you look for white or gray house paint, you have to choose which color of white (warm or cool hues) — it’s will be the least saturated version (at the top of the paint chip).  Gray is any hue at its not-yet-black muddiest.

So I picked a nice hue of blue from Chirag Mehta’s Color Wheel , and found the different colors of blue it can become:

I picked a nice hue of blue to start.  They very middle is a balance between black/white saturation and value.

hue is the aspect along the outer ring -- this one is blue. The middle of the grid is a balance between black/white saturation and value.

 

A "pastel" of the same hue: low saturation, low value. If you play with the wheel you can change hues and find other pastels (upper left corner of the grid).  Lavendar, rosebud, buttercup.

A "pastel" of the same hue: low saturation, low value. Play around with the outer wheel to find other hues of pastel (upper left corner of the grid). Lavendar, rosebud, buttercup.

 

If you move to the right (darker value?) of the same hue, it's less pastel-y and more gray.  These colors have more edge to them.

Move to the right for a darker value of the same hue. It's "muddy" instead of "clear." In interior decor this makes color more sophisticated, in clothing it gives them an edge.

 

Then move down down, toward black. Still the same hue of blue, now making a nice inky dark gray that still has some personality.

The bottom right becomes black and gray. The same hue of blue becomes inky and dark.

 

Still the same hue: The bottom left sector of the grid gives beautiful jewel tones.  Saturated and dark.

The bottom left segment of the grid is saturated but not muddy. These are vivid, clear jewel tones.

 

When we wear color, hue is not usually the most important point.   Most muted, dark colors look good with blue denim because denim is a dark, gray-ish color.  Vivid and bright colors are exciting but hard to match together because they compete with each other.  Dark neutrals (not just black but charcoal, chocolate, navy, forest green and khaki) coordinate with most colors, depending on the look you’re going for.

If you want to match a red shirt, for instance, think about how muddy/clear and bright/pale it is.  Then consider whether you want contrast. More contrast adds energy and makes an outfit or pattern more dynamic.  (This can be seen in examples of prints).  High contrast — especially adding white -next to color – tends to make a given combination of clothes (slacks, a top and sweater) more casual.  Lower contrast (pair similar values of different hues), is visually “smoother” and more elegant. 

Examples, using same tops with different camisoles:

 

Chatham blue velvet jacket that dmama scored from thriftstore. Print Classiques Entier silk top.  Dark camisole (Shuttle Gray) is dressier, white is more casual.

Chatham blue velvet jacket that dmama scored from thriftstore. Print Classiques Entier silk top. Dark camisole (Shuttle Gray) is dressier, white is more casual.

Pink shirred-neck t-shirt.  Dark camisole for a meeting; White for a picnic.

Shirred-neck t-shirt (color: Amaranth). Dark camisole for a meeting; White for a picnic.

 

Same Sweet Pea top (Color: Lake Como). On left with gray camisole and cardigan, on right with white.
Sweet Pea top (Colors: Lake Como, Axolotl, blumine). On left with gray camisole and cardigan, on right with white.

It’s hard to analyze outfit components alone, since so much of a “look” is about how it all goes together. So I think there are a lot of ways these ideas can succeed or fail depending on what else is going on.  Another big component is contrast with hair and skin color . . . probably deserves a post of its own!

Read Full Post »

Classiques Entier ruched mesh top. Great under-bust seams. Mine is a purple and black watercolor print.

Classiques Entier ruched mesh top. Great under-bust seams. Mine is a purple and black watercolor print.

It’s still summer, but today is a rainy August Tuesday and it feels like fall.  If you live in Homer, Alaska, like my sister, it IS fall. They are even back to school already (don’t feel too sorry for her! They end in May. Like the Semester System! Which I have never been on).

In honor of proto-Fall, I busted out my school clothes today, scored on my fantastic Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Shopping Trip.  If you are still not sold on Nordstrom, my summaries are here  and here.  The clothes I really like for “chic business casual” are in the Individualist department.  Here’s what Nordstrom says about it:

 Classiques Entier® offers sophisticated designs and well-constructed essentials in luxurious European fabrics. The collection features versatile styles and current trends interpreted for the workplace. The effect is confident, stylish and feminine—with a touch of glamour.

 And also this:

Classiques Entier Atelier provides polished, feminine suiting and elegant separates to build a timeless wardrobe. Expertly crafted from European fabrics, the collection offers essential items as well as luxurious pieces to create standout looks.

 That sounds pretty pretentious but I get it.

I have this in brown and it’s my favorite top! Look, I found it in blue.  Bad news: someone put my brown one in the dryer. EEEK. It might have been me.  It kind of shrunk and I kind of cried, and my 4-and-a-half year old son (who cheers me up from crying FAR too often) tried to reassure me by saying “You can buy a new one, Mommy!” I don’t know.

I have this in brown and it’s my favorite top! Look, I found it in blue. Bad news: someone put my brown one in the dryer. EEEK. It might have been me. It kind of shrunk and I kind of cried, and my 4-and-a-half year old son (who cheers me up from crying FAR too often) tried to reassure me by saying “You can buy a new one, Mommy!” I don’t know.

Shard print belted silk dress, long cardigan, tights, open toe boots. Hmm.

Classiques Entier feature outfit: "Shard" print belted silk dress, long cardigan, tights, open toe boots. Hmm.

Read Full Post »

Pink snakeskin-embossed Bandolino slingbacks

Pink snakeskin-embossed Bandolino slingbacks

Shoes are one of our first and most primary possessions.  Even little kids get way into their shoes* —  they’re the first objects which are exclusively “mine” but yet not fully “me.”  In the folktale of Cinderella, shoes are emblematic of transformation (from isolation to community, loneliness to love, loss to rediscovery)**.  Cinderella’s coach turned back into a pumpkin at midnight, so how did the glass slipper remain? Because shoes are magic. They connect our transformed fantasy with our everyday reality. They are ours, but just beyond us.

Shoes are intimate but public.  Shoes are functional, they are decorative. And I do believe they have the power to transform us.  I think there might be two kinds of women — those who believe in Shoe Magic and those who deny it.  I was a skeptic for like 20 years.  Shoes are personal, so I can’t presume to tell you exactly what shoes to wear.  But I will tell you that shoes are an opportunity and if you haven’t yet taken it, your life can change if you do.

Of course we have to wear the right shoes at the right place and time.  Wear the shoes that are required for your vocational or recreational activities.  But think beyond the demands and limitations on shoes — allow them to be happy and fabulous.   If you have hang ups about your body, spare your feet. Your feet are not fat (the late Diana, Princess of Wales wore a size 9 and did she not look fabulous?) Almost everyone’s feet are a bit quirky, but it’s possible to find beautiful shoes that fit.

Today I’m posting pictures of my heels.  Don’t think of heels as a single kind of shoe. Heels are place on the shoe – on many, many kinds of shoes — where a shoe may be elegantly elevated in a flattering way. I wasn’t convinced until I read it in O Magazine (as a general rule, I trust O to shit me not) that if you’re looking to improve your professional wardrobe, “wear heels.” If you think all heels are uncomfortable, “keep shopping.” A good heel makes your legs look great, makes your walk more confident, and improves the look of your outfit. If you wobble, keep shopping – it’s not just the heel height but lateral support and heel structure that give a shoe stabilitiy.

Cole haan red loafer; Pink Patent leather slingback wedge; Circa Joan & David toe-tone leater; Purple Kate Spade Stiletto

Cole haan red loafer; Pink Patent leather slingback wedge; Circa Joan & David toe-tone leater; Purple Kate Spade Stiletto

shoes

Cole Haan Carma Open-toe pump; Fred Meyer brown heel with bow.

Lower heels:
 
Three low-heeled shoes. The one on the right I only wear with pants.

Three low-heeled shoes. The one on the right I only wear with pants.

I have a variety of heel heights because I have a variety of pant lengths — theoretically you should hem your pants to the shoe, but I haven’t perfected that art, so I do a lot of switching around.  Cute shoes can be slipped on with an otherwise boring outfit (Me: blue trousers. brown sweater) and make a cool outfit.   Great shoes can be worn with a nice outfit and make a superstar outfit.  Heels are pretty and once I got used to them, they seriously improved my stature and presence whenever I wear them.  This used to be way out of my reach, and now it’s not, I’m really into it. It’s a joy I wish on everyone.

Coming up: pictures of my old, boring shoes, as well as my comfortable flats and loafers, summer sandals, my “weekend shoes” (that I’m not totally happy with right now). And boots, which should not be worn in summer!

*Toddlers and shoes are discussed in Your Two Year Old: Tender or Terrible, by Louise Bates Ames & and Frances Ilg. These books are the gold standard in explaining phases of early childhood development (their “advice” can be dated and weird but the underlying research is reliable). It’s so reassuring to see that my kids freakish behavior is developmentally normal. Once I remember that, it’s easier for me to empathize and develop age-appropriate expectations and discipline tools.

**The Cinderella story has been repeated through cultures and over the centuries, but it is almost always about a shoe: in Strato’s Rhodopis, 1st c. B.C. it is a sandal; Ye Xian, China 860 AD it is a slipper.

Read Full Post »

Crash: Who dresses you? . . . You think this is a little excessive for the Carolina League? 

Annie: “The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom”  — William Blake.

Bull Durham

Susan Sarandon, 1988

Inappropriate batting cage wear, circa 1988.

If I dressed up I would look . . . too intimidating.  Not approachable.  Showing off.  Ridiculous.  I’m not picking on any one comment thread here (really!) because this comes up constantly:  Those clothes are cute, but I have nowhere to wear them.  I look great in skirts or heels, but it would be ridiculous at my job.  When should we worry about being “too dressed up?” 

Of course there are times when dressy clothes are inappropriate (Heels on a hike.  Dresses while clam digging.) But I believe those limitations should be set by functionality, not “look” – and that it is possible to look great any time, at any level of comfort and function. Okay maybe not clam digging, I like to tie my Grandma’s funny scarf around my head when I dig clams.   

Boden Outfits: Sharp, casual, cute, hip, fun.

Boden Outfits: Sharp, casual, cute, hip, fun.

But if you work (or shop, or live) in any kind of office, school, hospital, or company with indoor plumbing and a carpeted floor, “we just don’t dress like that here” is not a reason to avoid dressing well.  It betrays “I don’t care what I look like,” because really we do — we want to conform to the least common denominator.

When I went back to work, I decided to dress “up,” and it’s been hard (which is why I write about it) but it is awesome.  I am dressier than many people around me, but no one gives me crap.  They give me respect.  And it’s surprising how often someone will stop by my office to show off their own new shoes.  We’re all part of the secret conspiracy of fabulous.  It’s fun and pretty, and we support each other. (For details on that Boden look see here).

CJ Banks Colorblock swing cardigan, $45.50 (Sizes 14- 26)

Pretty, polished, practical: CJ Banks Colorblock swing cardigan, $45.50 (Sizes 14- 26)

Little girls have “play clothes” and “school clothes” and “party dresses,” (my dresses were always for piano recitals).  As adults, we need to dress appropriately for the occasion – but that doesn’t mean relegating all things “dressy” to those rare events that are just beyond our reach. “Nice clothes” are not a category of costumes beyond “real clothes.” We all deserve to look beautiful, put-together, confident, appropriate and classy every moment of our lives. And since virtually all women look their best in a knee-length skirt , really, maybe  it’s time to start rationalizing ourselves into situations where we CAN wear dresses.  Maybe everywhere. Except clam digging.

“Dressed up” doesn’t have to be a suit and pumps with a silk blouse, or  a dress with nylons and a string of pearls. Just wear beautiful things that fit well, flatter and inspire you, and make you happy.  Here are the “Dress well, dressed down” ideas for looking put-together and wearing nice clothes without wandering into the dreaded realm Too Dressy:

-Stick to cotton and avoid rayon or silk (shiny is dressy)
-Add hammered metals and wood jewelry
-Mix up colors (top and bottom) and don’t be too matchy-match
-Mix in denim and knits

Or maybe not.  Maybe we can all find beautiful colors and fabrics, glamorous shoes and indulgent coats without worrying about what people think. It worked for Annie and Nuke, didn’t it?

Read Full Post »

What I’m wearing

Just a quick update while dmama and I collect this week’s varying and sophisticated thoughts on fashion. We’ve got a lot of great tips and ideas this week, just you wait.  Right now it’s Monday morning, I’m getting over the stomach flu which involved a brutal caffeine withdrawal headache AND missing the Party of the Year, and I can’t go hide in bed because it’s Temporary Restraining Order  day (My client’s — Not AGAINST me, or anything).

But you know what helps? The perfect shirt helps. 

Eddie Bauer Embroidered Tank, raspberry

Eddie Bauer Embroidered Tank, raspberry

Beautiful color.  Happy embroidery.  Cotton.  Cool. AWESOME elastic, people let me tell you I can breathe in this thing.  This is so making my day. And yes I paid the sale price ($19.99). 

Ready for the week? I am.

Read Full Post »

Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

I work in an office with central air conditioning; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sane enough to write this post.  It is a record-breaking 104 degrees here today.  I just read that only 14% of the homes in the Seattle area have central air. My home does not.  It is 90 degrees down in the living room where the thermostat is.  Hotter upstairs where the computer is.

I don’t like to say “Thank Goodness I don’t have to wear a suit to work every day,” because really? If I was in a place in my career that required suits, I’d bring the suits.  Day after day, I would make the suit look great. I would wear the best damn suits and shoes in the place and I’d be grateful for the opportunity to looking Suit-tastically Awesome.

But Business Casual is feeling pretty good in the heat. I broke a sweat before leaving the house, again while dropping my daughter off at daycare, and even more in the parking lot of my building.  I don’t know that anyone else has this exact wardrobe problem this week.  But I’m kind of proud of myself for not melting, crying and/or caving and waering my Alfani Petunia flip-flops to a deposition, so I decided to tell the world about what I’ve worn so far.

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

 

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

 Yes, I had a bit of a Bargain Binge at Target and Fred Meyere. It felt like they just HAD to have that perfect $20 cotton sundress.  I got a blouse, skirt and dress (without trying it on). The skirt works — above — but is a long story that I don’t want to tell just yet.  The other stuff, I have to return, and how no fun is that?

. . . to be continued with my Thursday and Friday outfits.  I think tomorrow I’ll revisit the linen pants with a sleeveless silk top. Friday it is supposed to be a tad cooler. I might wear a short-sleeved dress.

Hot.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »