Last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with one of our readers, helping her go through her closet to see how she can spice up her work wardrobe with clothing items she already owns. It took a bit of time to go through everything, but wound up being a smashing success! We discovered some fabulous combinations within her closet that she didn’t realize she could easily put together!

Eager to hear more? Here’s the DL on the afternoon! 

This reader has a great collection of classic dresses, jackets, and shoes that she wears to work on an everyday basis. We discovered multiple new outfits that could potentially work with every piece of item in her closet! In talking, she described her style as Anthropolgie-inspired mixed with signature Loft sweaters and tops, and skinny jeans. However, she was very open to trying any type of style as long as it worked with her body type. Her jewelry collection was a rainbow of all colors, but mostly turquoises, blues and yellows. In terms of body type she is curvy and was something we did address throughout the afternoon as she tried on different outfits. Along the way, we discussed fashion trends, and had some epiphanies and realizations about seemingly arbitrary guidelines related to what to and what not to wear.
The main missions and questions at hand were:

  • How can we spice up her work outfits to be a bit more bold and playful?
  • How can we use jewelry and accessories that she had in her closet to bring work outfits to another more funky level?
  • How can we find outfits that are funky but are flattering on her body type?

Here  are some shots of her favorite combinations:

A Pop of Color

This first outfit we put together was an instant hit. In this ensemble, we combined a long sleeve black and white Loft sweater along with a classic black wool blazer, skinny jeans, and pumps (from Goodwill!). Without the necklace, this outfit would look fine, but still a bit ordinary. To bring it to another level, we brought in a coral bib necklace to add a playful touch and a pop of color. The shape of the necklace works especially and exceptionally well with the neckline of the blouse underneath. The scoop from the necklace and scoop from the top are of different depths, so when they intersect with one another, it’s unique and not too parallel. With any outfit that seems a bit incomplete, my rule of thumb is to always see how a colorful piece of jewelry or accessory can transform a look. I’m always on the hunt for colorful bright bib necklaces at Goodwill. Sometimes they can be quite expensive, but from Goodwill, they’re usually under $10.

Finally, another one of my favorite parts of this look are the elbow patches on the blazer. Little details like this on clothing is something I always seek out. They make a what would be ordinary garment into something that’s a bit more interesting.

All Black with Unique Shoes

This look reminds me of a fashion consultant for some reason! It’s so sleek and chic.
An all black look, in my opinion, always looks excellent on any figure. Wearing all one color like this is very slimming because there’s no real focus point. When looking at this outfit, one’s not fixated on one garment. Rather, they focus on the whole entirety of this cohesive outfit.

When wearing all black, playing with jewelry and shoes is a must. In this particular outfit, we chose to let the shoes shine bright. This mod pair of metallic oxfords were sitting in this reader’s closet for a long time because she wasn’t sure how to wear them (also from Goodwill!). They are a bit out there, but with a look like this, you can’t go wrong. The black is simple and easy to put together. No thinking needed! 😉

Here’s a little snippet of a look. I love this blue dress!

Unfortunately, the collared blouse was a tad too big but there’s a key learning here. If you have a simple sleeveless A-line type dress in your closet with a high neck, it can be worn in the fall! All you need to do is add a collared form fitting long sleeve button-up underneath and a necklace and you’re good to go! It’s comfy, it’s warm, and gives you multiple uses of many items that might not have been warn in otherwise cooler weather. I first saw this pairing being worn by a random girl on the streets of DC and I knew then and there that I had to adopt this outfit option. It’s a bit preppy (you can see it being worn in the windows of J. Crew), but with an interesting necklace or collared top, you can make this outfit exactly how you want it to be.

A Funky Dress can be Worn to Work

Our reader owns this super cute elephant printed dress, but doesn’t wear it very often. I was mind blown because it’s incredibly playful and unique – I’d wear it all of the time! The reason why she hasn’t worn it much is because it seemed to funky, or fancy. Also, because of the pattern she wasn’t sure that it complemented her body type.

I agree, it is a little out there if you’re not used to wearing this type of pattern to work, but it’s definitely appropriate for the workplace! With the right blazer or cardigan, and heeled shoes, there’s no question. Regarding body type, I don’t think patterns can make one look bigger or smaller. Being petite myself, I have never felt that any certain pattern makes me look shorter or taller. Instead, I think the cut and shape of clothing are the attributes to look out for – if the cut of a garment falls on the wrong place on a body, it obviously won’t look right. For example, if you’re small like me a skirt that overtly hits the waist, you risk your torso looking short. Or, if you wear a dress that’s cut like a big bag, you’ll look like an animal trapped inside of the bag. It doesn’t matter if it’s black or floral, it will still look like a bag.

Finally, I love the gold belt in this look. It’s actually a nude belt, but the backside of it is gold. Thinking it might look good, we decided to try allowing the gold side to show, and in the end, it totally worked! Plus, the belt added a nice visual break in a sea of the elephant pattern. You never know what items in your closet have multiple uses!

After a long day of dress-up, our reader walked away with over 10 new looks to wear to work without spending a penny! Sometimes, you just have to bring out all of the items in your closet and play a game of mix and match. You’ll see new combinations instantly revealing themselves!

Which of the looks above is your favorite, dear readers?