While I was on vacation last month I spent a week with my sister, the person who inspired this blog. Although she struggles with what to wear, she has some really fabulous pieces hanging out in her wardrobe. I rifled through her clothes and put together a few outfits that are easy and polished, but that aren't necessarily her first instinct. Sometimes a great piece gets overlooked because when you bought it you didn't have anything to wear with it. Pull that piece out and challenge yourself to wear it once next week.
The first outfit consists of a pair of olive green/ivory pin striped trousers, a long sleeve black sweater, a 3/4 sleeve olive jacket with a satin sheen and a berry scarf. This outfit was designed for a day my sister, who is a professor in the sciences, would be spending in her lab. Removing the jacket and the scarf gives her a base layer that is easy to move around in while she is on her own and the finishing touches of the scarf and jacket give her a sophisticated, but not stodgy, look for any last minute meetings or an impromptu dinner date.
The second outfit is much more traditional. This combination of a striped oxford, faux wrap sweater and black trousers was designed for a day that my sister would be teaching a class. The main innovation to this outfit is to use the wrap sweater in lieu of a cardigan to create a three piece look.
Although I am a huge proponent of cardigans, there are several benefits to the wrap sweater, especially when giving a presentation. The first is that you don't have to decide whether to button or leave unbuttoned, or how many buttons to button. There is nothing to fuss about before you present. The second is that if you are writing on a chalkboard or gesturing wildly, chances are that you will get some gapping around the buttons of your cardigan. With a wrap sweater, you don't have to worry. Of course you can always pair your oxford with a basic crew- or v-neck sweater to counter those same issues, but the wrap sweater will give a fresh and modern twist to a classic look.
This final outfit is my favorite of the three. I paired a black pencil skirt with a teal satin/knit shell, a teal lizard print skinny belt and a 3/4 sleeve tweed jacket with flecks of blue and teal in it. This outfit was designed for a conference, that tricky intersection of work and socializing. Since no one wants to be running back to change before each segment of the day, you need an outfit that feels appropriate in any environments.
This outfit has the three piece feel of a suit, but not the matching that makes it hard to transition. If the belt feels too fashion forward during the day, merely button the lowest button of the jacket to hide it or stash it in your purse and do a quick add-on in the bathroom later in the day. Even though it is not a true suit, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks that a tweed jacket is inappropriate work attire.
However, at dinner or drinks later in the night with your fellow conference goers you will not look out of place in a restaurant or hotel bar filled with people dressed for an evening out. This outfit will magically fit in with any dress code and the best part is that all of these pieces can be mixed and matched with other basics so you might only need to pack a carry-on!