AKA: Dress It Up or Down
Happy day, dear reader!
One of the words clients use most frequently when they describe an ideal wardrobe is versatile. I get it! Almost everyone I talk to wants to do more with less, even if we all define “less” very differently. In other posts I’ve talked about the qualities of a versatile piece, especially when it comes to Levels of Refinement, or Dressing It Up or Down. Even if you aren’t a capsule wardrobe fan, or a minimalist (not the same thing), it makes plain-old good financial sense to buy clothing that is versatile. Today I’ll take a simple piece and style it for work and for play. As always, please feel free to pin or share as you like!
This red flannel slight A-line skirt was in storage over the summer, and until now, it has been too warm so far this fall to wear it. I bought it at least three years from Talbot’s. They’ve carried skirts in this same cut every year since. It’s a three season piece that usually finds its way into my fall, winter, and spring capsules. (Unfortunately, it’s only practical late fall through early spring.) I don’t own many colored (vs. neutral) bottoms, so I count it as more of a Wardrobe Wonder than a Building Basic. I love the cheerful red, which is perfect for fall and the holidays. The flannel feels cozy without being too heavy, and the fit is forgiving of a few pounds. Skirts and dresses (unless seriously body-con) tend to be more fluctuation friendly than jeans and trousers!
For work (office-y, meeting-y, business-y work), I paired the skirt with a blush silk blouse. I rolled the cuffs back for a French cuff feel and buttoned them from the inside-out, or the outside-in. It’s hard to explain, but it leaves the button showing on the outside, like a proper French cuff. I don’t like long sleeves, which is why you will almost always see my sleeves rolled back, or pushed up. My body shape doesn’t need sleeve hems drawing a horizontal line across my lower hips/thighs, as that is where I put on weight. I slipped on pointy-toed grey suede wedges for a little lift, and a more adult look. On my petite frame, flats with this outfit would look more gamine than professional. For this look, I tied the scarf in a one sided bow. It’s an easy tie that feels soft and feminine but less girly than a two-sided bow. This kind of asymmetry is eye-grabbing, without looking lopsided.
Yes, I am wearing a necklace and a scarf, and below you can see how they don’t stress each other out. The necklace is quite dainty, and the hematite finish ties in with the black edges on the scarf, as do the earrings. I popped on a bold red lip, to repeat the red from the skirt for face-focus. When I folded the scarf, I made sure to keep the red from the flowers visible for the same reason…
If I wanted a less soft feeling, and more classic business, I would have tied the scarf in a four-in-hand, and worn it down the front like a man’s tie…
The watch is an old signature piece. It’s been all over the world and on my wrist for about 20 years; by now the cost per wear is down to less than a penny. I popped on a couple of dark finish bracelets to echo the scarf trim and tie in with the necklace and earrings. My value contrast is Medium-High, even with my light hair, so I need some dark touches for harmony. You don’t have to wear black from head to toe, a little black can add gravitas to a more colorful outfit.
I know there are lots of you out there who can’t imagine wearing a skirt “for play,” unless it’s summer and a skort. In elementary school, I wore a skirt to school every day, and playing in one was just par for the course. We didn’t get to wear pants until I was in middle school, and then only in the darkest, freezingest depths of winter. Otherwise it was a skirt.
For play I added my old Levi’s snap front denim shirt. It’s been in my closet so long that the prairie chic vibe is back! I left the shirt untucked for a more relaxed look, and because it would be lumpy inside the skirt. This outfit is a variation on my Dress + Boots outfit recipe, and here I chose boots similar in color to my hair. I have black boots, but that would have dragged the eye, and the whole look, down. I don’t need to move the eye south. I’m short enough already.
I chose a cheap and cheerful necklace to repeat the red, and draw the focus back up toward my face. The oversized watch with the grosgrain band also reads very relaxed or sporty. I was tempted to pile on more jewelry–a turquoise bracelet, some beads, and a ring, but those tipped the look into more polished than I wanted.
The bag in both posts is an oldie but goodie as well. It’s a grey pebbled leather slouchy satchel/hobo combination. It was far less slouchy when I bought it 10+ years ago! If it had two handles, I’d call it a proper satchel, but the single handle over the top reminds me more of a hobo, even if it is/was more structured and smaller than your average hobo. I had no idea when I splashed out for it all those years ago that it would be the perfect color for my hair as it made the transition from brown to silver! (I was still coloring my hair, back then. If you want to know why I stopped, read this.)
And because I’m a Bonus kind of girl, here’s a Party It styling idea: Take the work look, lose the scarf and watch, pop on larger earrings, and another sparkly bracelet. Slip into some gunmetal peeptoe heels, and grab a pewter clutch. Reapply lipstick and out the door! Date Night!
I’m thinking this Work It/Play It could easily become a series… Is there something you’d like to see me style both ways? Just let me know in the comments below… I love to hear from you!