Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{3rd edition} Working Women Wednesday...

Carrie BradshawOh hey working women! It's that time of the week again. For the third installment, we're dressing it up a bit with Anna. I think this is a great next step in the series because I've been getting feedback from some of my more "business casual" readers, seeking advice for when jeans just aren't an option. These comments are also a great indication of new directions this weekly installment can take, so please, keep 'em coming!

Perhaps now is as good a time as any to mention that I have been using the one and only Carrie Bradshaw as inspiration image for these posts for  a reason. In her hey-day, she was a caricature of a fashionable, budget-unconscious working woman. I think she serves as a perfect icon of aspiration because if you start with you and shoot for Bradshaw, you (hopefully) land somewhere in the realm of just right. And if you fudge it up a little, guess what? That doesn't exist. You did it on purpose and you look fabulous, thank you very much.

So, we've clearly established what we're trying to accomplish with these posts, so lets now get down to business again. Ha, business. Anyway, today we have Miss Imperati in a cap-sleeve dress, tights and boots. A three-piece recipe just begging for a little sartorial Tabasco sauce.

Hold in your shock and awe New Yorkers, but in some Emerald City circles what you are about to see is considered dressed up. And one of those circles probably exists at Anna's office. I know this may make some of you cringe, and some of you squeal with jealousy, but believe me, I have been there, lived that, and it's a real thing.

What we need here, to make this post helpful to Anna and relevant to the rest of you darling readers, is to remove the trappings of the particular occasion and location of this ensemble, and simply address it on it's own merits. Observe:

Kookai dress; Spanx tights; Frye boots; Michelle watch; Tiffany bracelet.

Per usual, she's got a great fit and totally office and age appropriate look. Let's see what Anna thinks:

"I like this dress because i feel like it's business up top and a party down below. It's conservative, but still young with the length. It's also a medium weight so I feel like I can wear it in the summer with strappy heels or in the winter with tights and boots. The problem is that I never know how to layer on top of it in the fall/winter when I don't necessarily want bare arms. I feel like the top half makes it difficult to layer and accessorize."

A challenge, indeed. She's right about the shape of the top making this dress a little bit tricky to layer. I feel like we all have a dress like this, don't we? One that nips in here and flares out there, making the majority of options look somehow - off.

To give this look the proper kick of fashion Tabasco I hinted at earlier, I'm going to break it down into three options: samsies, dressier, and dressiest. This way, there's variety, mix-and-match potential, and everybody wins. Here's what I'm envisioning:

To break it down, what we have here is actually more of a quirky, a put-together and a fancy. To keep this look on par, but add warmth as Anna is hoping to do, I would stick to thicker layering pieces. That way, you don't run the risk of letting the dress sleeves shape the sweater sleeves. I chose this crazy grand farther-esque Marni cardigan as an example, but the idea is to add some spunk and spirit via pattern. Wrapping an extra-long studded skinny belt around your natural waist a few times will also jazz up the look. These suede loafers are like an office-appropriate version of a Minnetonka moccasin, with a sexy librarian twist.

The second look is something I would put together if the occasion called for being completely composed and sophisticated, but not overtly dressy. The key is to pair a wide belt with an open cardigan that extends below the natural waist. Wear the belt over the cardigan, using it to determine how the sweater falls, and to keep your silhouette professional. Pointy toe flats will be all the rage this spring, and I find them to be a chic alternative to the ballet flat. An additional option is also to switch out your go-to opaque black tights for a lace pattern to keep things youthful.

Finally, we have the dressiest layering choice for this dress: the blazer. It is hands down the greatest essential in my wardrobe these days, and it's hard to go wrong with how you wear one. For dressing up this dress, I would wear the blazer open, sleeves pushed up to the elbow, with a big ol' necklace and some t-strap pumps. Again, the lace tights would work here as an artful finishing touch.
Phew, that was a doozie. Now, have at it in the comments, please! How did I do?


  1. Please bring back the Working Women Wednesdays! I am going to start working in a school in the fall, but I'm freshly-graduated and all I know how to wear is the college uniform of yoga pants/American Apparel v-necks/Minnetonka moccasins! Help!

    I love this post, btw-I have a dress that exact shape and have only worn it super dressy with heels...excited to try it out more casually!

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