I'm headed back to work full-time now that my kids are older, and I work in a pretty conservative field. I've bought a few basics, but am at a loss now that it's (slightly) warmer and I'll have to pack away my black boots, tights and sweater dresses!I'm a size 4 (which I've worked hard for post-babies!) but so many of my old clothes look frumpy. While I'm over 40, I don't look it and don't want to! Could you give me some tips to use what I've got to be stylin' in the office and budget-friendly?I went out and bought a black skirt suit with a pencil skirt, some stretchy black belts for the pencil skirt and sweater dresses, two camis – white & black, and a no-wrinkle crisp fitted white shirt. I have a few cardigans (a bit dated and baggy) but one classic charcoal cashmere sweater set that still works, kind of. I also have three pairs of dress khakis and a pair of dressy washable black slacks. And I have one cute silky scarf in neutrals.A lot of my friends are in the same boat – starting over with a closet full of jeans, t-necks & tees, and no idea where to start. Can you show us a few looks that could build on the basics for spring but would work for …. well, work?Thanks! I love your blog and read it daily. I love when you feature other blogs too – I'm starting to follow a few more but yours is the most fun (and fashion-forward).Julia
Julia, thanks for writing in! What a fun question – and I love that you gave us an idea of what you already have in your closet. Your basics are very relatable…I'm willing to bet that most mamas have some version of what you described. So how to perk up a fairly dark and and basic wardrobe for Spring?
Here's a sample of the types of items Julia has in her closet:
To perk these pieces up….we need to inject a little color, and some patterns. My recommended shopping list is actually pretty short. Ready?
The Shopping List
The biggest challenge? Trying to brighten up a work wardrobe of primarily black pieces. Black is tough to match – it overpowers most colors (except for gray…which isn't very Spring-y). The key is going to be finding items that are color-saturated enough to stand up to all of that black, and prints that can hold their own against the black.
But yes – I'm recommending only four items:
A. Print skirt (I like pencil)
B. Cashmere Tee (to wear on its own or layered over other shirts)
C. Patterned Shirt (put it under the cashmere tee, under a blazer, or wear alone)
D. Bright Pumps (wear with everything!!)
I know my shopping list is J.Crew-heavy, but similar items can be found at varying price points. J.Crew just happens to be killing it this Spring. Per usual.
In any case, here's how I'd mix these items into your existing work wardrobe. Let's start with that fun little pencil skirt, shall we?
What To Wear With The Print Pencil Skirt
I love the menswear take of the shell layered over the button-down, but paired with a fun and sexy skirt. The shoes will really pop in this outfit. If the shell doesn't layer properly, use the cardigan. And again, if the polka-dot + floral-skirt combo is too much, button the blazer. Mixed prints are huge for Spring, and most work surprisingly well.
What To Wear With The Black Pencil Skirt
Again with the layering over a button-down…this time it's the cashmere tee. Too hot? Wear the tee alone. The teal tee + black skirt + blue shoes will look like color-blocking, another Spring trend.
Julia, if you are not feeling the blue and teal, I also really like camel and orange paired with black, or black + red + purple….
Readers! I'm messing around with a new app that lets me annotate pics. I know my writing is horrible, but whaddya think? Handwriting aside, do my annotations make it easier to understand what I'm talking about…or…?? Let me know what you think of my new technique in the comments.