I decided to overhaul my work wardrobe a bit. My new additions? Pencil skirts, button-down dress shirts, a sexy "power suit", new belts, a couple of bags, and some lovely new heels. Yes, you can say that I went a bit overboard. But somehow, I prefer to see it as an investment in my career (and therefore feel far less guilty). My husband did not quite agree and has now banned me from J.Crew and eBay, including blocking these sites from my computer... But back to the topic at hand.
Here are some of my new acquisitions:
And here are some of my older work essentials that I mixed them up with:
My hubby was working late one night, so I decided to use the time productively to put on a little fashion show with my new work clothes. I created several outfits to see how many I could mix and match with a few basic pieces. I apologize in advance for the poor photo quality - these were taken at night in front of a (dusty) mirror without a flash.
What do you think? Please comment on your likes, dislikes, and favorites in the photos that follow.
First up: The Cotton-silk Poplin Solid Perfect Shirt in Fresh Orange, the Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt in Bronzed Twig, the Joley Tortoise Peep Toes, and the Cherry-blossom Necklace in Shadow.
I love love love the Joley Tortoise Peep Toes! They are not only incredibly adorable, but they are also unbelievably comfortable! The patent leather is so soft and flexible (unlike many patent leathers from other brands), and though I attempted to injure it several times (accidentally) with the sharp point of my heel, it never scratched. I have the same good fortune with my Cate Patent Slingbacks (also shown) which are simply indestructible.
At first I wasn't sure if I could justify shelling out full price for yet another animal print-reminiscent pattern, having already acquired last year's Serengetti, the previous year's spotted cat calf-hair print, and this past fall's ocelot/snow leopard varieties (not to mention the zebra bangle, . But as soon as I saw the tortoise pattern on the Joleys, I fell in love instantly and wanted to wear them at once. There is definitely a difference in color shades between these and last year's Serengetti heels. The tortoise pattern has more yellow-orange pops, which makes them fun to pair with so much of the orange and yellow in my wardrobe. But I think they would also spice up a tan, chocolate, and black ensemble.
I liked the Joley Peep Toes so much in Tortoise, I ordered another pair in Ash, the medium gray color. They are a currently waitlisted in my size, but I should be receiving them in a couple of weeks. I hope they are just as comfy and tough as the Tortoise patent leather ones!
I was pleasantly surprised too at the luxuriousness of the Cotton-silk Poplin Perfect Shirt, which I also got in a beautiful print (see in later set). It's sheer and dressy looking, sort of like wearing silk shantung, but without all the weight. The fabric is very lightweight but not see-through, and it has enough sheen for interest but not so much that I felt like I was a glowing jack-o-lantern.
The Bronzed Twig color in the Double Serge was also a gamble. I finally jumped on the bandwagon and bought 2 Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirts. I was hesitating between sizing up or going with my normal size, and I opted to size up to a 2P as I had for the Double Serge Wool Pencil Skirt from last fall. I counted on the fit being slimmer, and since I need to feel comfy and be able to tuck in a shirt, I wanted to have a little belly space rather than not be able to eat in the skirt. I was glad I did. With the hefty material of this cotton, I was glad to have a little breathing room.
I wasn't sure if it would come out like a mustard yellow or more of a camel - or even closer to an olive. So I took a chance and got it anyway, since I was already getting 2 dark neutral pencil skirts. I definitely liked it when it came out of the box, but I had a lot of trouble at first figuring out what tops to wear with it. I experimented with a few possibilities, including an old Persimmon dress shirt. I also liked the Serengetti belt with Cate Patent Slingback Heels in Twig (first outfit on left). What do you think - is this skirt a keeper?
Finally, I ordered the Cherry Blossom Necklace in Shadow as kind of an afterthought after having such huge success with the Deep Rose one. I thought it might be a nice deep gray accent with brighter colors. I was completely wrong about the Shadow color - it turned out to be a smoky topaz color instead. However, this proved to be even more auspicious because I was able to pair it with orange and persimmon plus my tigereye bracelet. I ended up putting it into quite a few outfits, and it looked really elegant but interesting.
Next up: The Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt in Bronzed Twig, the Cotton-silk Paisley Perfect Shirt in Soft Azalea, and the Cherry Blossom Necklace in Shadow.
Like the solid version, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the Cotton-silk Paisley Perfect Shirt in Soft Azalea. I had originally seen this print in stores and thought it was gorgeous, but I had only found a need for the shorts. However, when I was looking to expand my button-down dress short collection with new colors, I decided to give this a shot. I had mentioned in my last post that I didn't want to buy this shirt when I first saw it because I didn't need anything competing with my beloved Frances Ruffle Blouse in Cherry Blossom from last spring. But once I saw this shirt live next to my other wardrobe pieces, I realized that it had entirely different applications than the Cherry Blossom pattern.
I was also surprised at how much I liked this pattern with the Bronzed Twig pencil skirt. It was almost as if the two were meant to be worn together. The paisley pattern channels a warmer, more tropical vibe, but the sheer silky texture of the cotton-silk keeps it refined. It would be perfect under a beige/camel suit as well as on its own with neutrals. I also found that the Cherry Blossom Necklace in Shadow was a good contrast with this pattern but didn't compete with it. What do you think?
Next Up: The Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt in Dark Slate, the Summer Linen Pencil Skirt in Navy, and the Classic Leather Belt in Stone.
I had been desperately seeking a navy pencil skirt. Navy is my black, so I can't get enough of it in my wardrobe. Though I had an old chalk-stripe pencil skirt, it was pretty tight in a OP and I always winced at the thought of wearing it for long periods of time. I had also been looking for something to pair with my Slim Stretch Shirt in Rhubarb (other than jeans) that I had bought a while back. I wanted to look fresh yet sophisticated but avoid wearing it with black.
Now, I had already acquired the Stretch Sateen Pencil Skirt in Navy, but I wasn't satisfied at making it my primary navy dress skirt. Although it was super-stretchy and thus exceptionally comfortable to wear all day, the sateen attracted an awful lot of lint wherever it went. The other issue was the inability to wear it with a belt. While I loved the button tab detail on the front-sides, the buttons stuck and made it impossible to wrap a belt over the waistband. For some reason, I feel naked without a belt when tucking in a shirt. So I went on the hunt for another navy pencil skirt.
I mulled over several options before ordering the Summer Linen Pencil Skirt in Navy. I was hesitant to order this one because it was on final sale and I had never tried it in the store. The sizing was my biggest issue, since I had not found many pencil skirts from recent seasons (other than the double serge ones) to fit true to size. I found myself swimming in a 0 in such skirts as the Watercolor Pencil Skirt and the adorable cotton pencil skirt with a bow (don't remember the name) which was made of the same material as the Double Serge Cotton skirts but didn't fit the same. But after investigating exact hemlines and surveying a few people about fits, I took a chance on the Summer Linen Pencil Skirt in a 0.
It fit perfectly! Not too tight, but no unwanted gapping either (see left and right outfits above). It felt pretty nice on - not as heavy as the Double Serge Cotton. I liked the very subtle linen weave but figured it would still be easy to mix with a navy jacket of a different material if I wanted to wear it as part of a skirt suit. I also liked that the fit was more like a pencil skirt should be - longer and slimmer.
In addition to the linen skirt, I ordered the Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt in Dark Slate thinking it might be a nice alternative to black and navy. I also wanted to test the skirt with some other piece that weren't getting enough love. I wanted to see how it would work with not only rhubarb but mint and light aqua elements in my closet. Like the Bronzed Twig skirt, I sized up in the Dark Slate to a 2P and felt fine in it. The one thing that bugged me about the Double Serge Pencil Skirts in cotton and wool was that they looked shorter on my in the petite fit. Granted, that's why people order petite, but I thought that maybe it was hemmed a little too low for how I had wanted it to fit and wondered it maybe I should have opted for a regular 0. What do you think - is the fit of the Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt good on me compared to the Summer Linen Pencil Skirt (see middle outfit above)?
The Classic Leather Belt in Stone - another afterthought - turned out to be quite a versatile piece. The Stone color is a medium neutral gray. I had also ordered the Skinny Leather Belt in Metallic Silver, since I couldn't stop wearing the Metallic Gold one, and I needed something to pull together cooler shades and silver-toned accessories. But as soon as I put on the Classic Leather Belt in Stone, I realized that it was even more versatile than the Skinny Leather Belt in Metallic Silver. For one, it could be work with both silver and gold accessories (which I hadn't really planned on needing with a gray belt). But the other genius of this color was that it paired well with gray-patterned shoes and a gray Kate Spade work tote that I already owned but was having trouble bringing into my ensembles. The Stone leather belt looked fresh on anything I tried with it and was the ideal accessory for pulling together my gray bag and shoes.
Next up: The The Double Serge Cotton Pencil Skirt in Dark Slate, the Summer Linen Pencil Skirt in Navy, and the Classic Leather Belt in Stone go to work with a turquoise button-down shirt and a sage-charcoal-mint-olive color scheme.
I bought this silk sleeveless top from Ann Taylor some years back but it hadn't gotten much use. I was about to give it away when, this past spring, it found new life next to Ecru and light aqua pieces that I had picked up. I was quite happy to see that this top paired nicely with the Dark Slate skirt too. And, I found a new use for my charcoal beaded flower-clasp necklace that I had picked up in the winter at the J.Crew outlet (middle outfit) - it was a great accent with the Dark Slate pencil skirt.
I was also delighted to see how well the Stone belt picked up the gray in my favorite summer shoes - the Cinema T-Strap Sandals in Metallic Stone (left outfit). It will also go perfectly with my Joley Peep Toe Heels in Ash when I want to wear more professional but open-toed shoes.
Any thoughts on wearing the grosgrain belt - both the turquoise above (right outfit) and the red multicolored one in the previous set?
Finally, spiffing up the basic white shirt and class navy skirt combo.
I had snapped up some amazing shoe bargains over the past 6 months, including: Delman Aloha suede peep toe slingback heels in a rhubarb-tea rose (left outfit) for $15 at Marshalls, Bruno Magli slate and marine suede peep toe slingback heels for $35 at Marshalls (center outfit), and Kate Spade platinum gold leather peep toe sandal heels for $39 at TJ Maxx (right outfit). I had also collected some cute cheap jewelry pieces: Target coral-toned flower clasp necklace for $13 with Talbots pink/orange/berry cuff for $8 (left); TJ Maxx turquoise/lime/green triple-strand necklace for $29 with gold turquoise cabochon flower embellished cuff for $20. I decorated a classic white short sleeved button-down shirt and the navy Summer Linen Pencil Skirt.
Hopefully to come in the future: me in the sexy "power suit" and a new Tory Burch dress I got in May and wore to a business function a few weeks ago.
Please share your thoughts on these outfits and sorry again for the low quality! Maybe they'll be easier to see if you click on the photo to see it in full view.