We got an interesting question from one of our readers, Annie. She wrote:
Dear TME Team,
I have been a loyal reader since I became a mom 2 years ago (actually, let’s be honest, it was about 9 months before I actually became a mom, because I’m a planner like that). Thanks for all your awesome content and helping me figure out my mom style!
I have recently been faced with an unexpected style challenge. I’m getting my PhD in Organizational Psychology and recently took on a part-time HR consulting gig. My first work trip is coming up in a month for a project with NFL, which I am super excited about. HOWEVER… my boss told me the team dresses in standard football-coach-inspired attire to fit in with the culture (think khakis, Under Armour, and athletic shoes) and that I should plan to dress accordingly. The problem is, I have a capsule-like wardrobe with a grey/black/ivory base and a few pops of color from favorite retailers like J. Crew, Everlane, and LOFT… and literally NOTHING in my closet that remotely looks like an athletic coach. So clearly I need to buy a few things, but the big question is: Is it possible to dress like a football coach and still look remotely stylish?!
If you have time, please help me! If not, hope you get a kick out of my quirky fashion dilemma.
We DO get a kick out of your quirky fashion dilemma, Annie! And I knew just who was needed to help solve it. Amber, a longtime friend of mine, is currently the Director of Merchandising at Under Armour (and before that, she worked at Adidas), so this is a girl who has been successfully combining sportswear with workwear for…20 years? Additionally, she’s a total badass and tons of fun, and most of the time she IS the party — especially if you’re having a bad day (she turns it around like it’s her job) — and I swear everybody needs an Amber in their life.
Of course, getting normal people (and by “normal” I mean non-fashion-bloggers) to send over a pic is like pulling teeth but here’s Amber:
The “use this…oh wait, do I look naked?” pic…
The one that doesn’t surprise me….
And here’s Amber with her adorable daughter (apparently ‘non bloggers’ only take photos during the holidays?)
Anyway, I texted her, and gave her the scoop on Annie’s fashion dilemma. At first we had to get through some ranting, “I hate that to be a woman that fits in with men you should dress like a man!!” Roger that. Agreed. And then we got to the good stuff. She ultimately suggested that incorporating a few sporty pieces into an otherwise business casual wardrobe was the best bet. (And maybe swapping out heels for some seriously cool sneaks if you’ll be doing a ton of walking.) And as I recall….when I worked for Lockheed, I would routinely pair a cool Adidas soccer jersey (stolen right from Amber’s closet) with a pencil skirt and heels, just to change things up.
Amber then pulled a few pieces from Under Armour that she would recommend incorporating, and the resulting looks (based on your preferred color scheme, Annie) were so good, I think they’re worth rocking —even if you’re not working with the NFL!
Last note: We went for a professional vibe overall, but if your office is more conservative, swap out the moto jackets for blazers, and stick with a pair of pumps (or flats).
One: Dress Down Your Suit
This one is dead easy: instead of the usual button-down or silk shell, try a muscle tank with sporty vibes. Heels would be so sharp with this (especially if you are doing happy hour after — just lose the blazer), but we’re kinda loving this look with a pair of sleek sneaks.
jacket | tee | pants | sneaks | watch
Two: Try High-Rise Trousers
I love the idea of a short, boxy top with a pair of really elegant high-rise trousers (nobody should show belly at the office). Add a pair of cool sneaks and the vibe is like a sporty Katherine Hepburn.
jacket | tee | pants | sneaks | hoops
Three: Slim, Patterned Pants + Hoodie
This one is great for a day where you’ll be running around. It especially works if you stick with a pretty neutral color scheme (like black & white). Need to take it up a notch? Swap the sneaks for black pumps and add a blazer.
coat | hoodie | pants | sneaks | earrings
Four: Pair a Sweatshirt with Dressier Pieces
Similar to the outfit above, this one elevates a cool sweatshirt into something that you can wear to the office. We like the plaid trousers for the subtle pop of color…but this sweatshirt would look equally cool with a simple black pencil skirt and pumps, too.
jacket | tunic | pants | boots | earrings
Five: Sporty Trousers + Graphic Tee
I love the side-stripe trousers for infusing a sporty vibe into your workwear. Play it up with a graphic tee, then serious things up again with a trench and loafers. (Or swap the trench for a blazer or structured cardigan if you need that extra polish indoors, too.)
coat | tee | pants | loafers | belt | hoops
This was a fun one, Annie! Thanks for writing in! (And Amber, thanks for playing along, girl. Love you to pieces.)