Friday, June 27, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Brown Jacket and Snakeskin Pumps

Today I thought I'd bring back my snakeskin pumps for a bit of variety in my summer shoe wardrobe. Plus, I thought they'd give a new look to the white fit-and-flare dress I've been wearing all the time for the past couple weeks. Plus, London hasn't been particularly warm lately (though we did have lovely weather last weekend), so the darker shoes and jacket didn't seem to be out of place even though it's almost July. 

Dress: White House Black Market, similar for US here and for UK here
Jacket: Ann Taylor, similar here
Shoes: Corso Como, similar here for US and here for UK

Monday, June 23, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Turquoise Cardigan and Grey Suit Pants

It's finally gotten warm over here in London!! Today I wanted something that was light and summery, but would still keep me warm in the office with the A/C cranked up. I decided to pair my grey suit pants with a silk camisole for maximum coolness and air circulation. But, I threw on the turquoise sweater to keep me warm while staying seated. I used a mixture of black and white pearls to complete the look - black pearl earrings and a long strand of white pearls for a touch of glamor!

Pants: Classiques Entier from Nordstrom, similar here for US and here for UK
Camisole: Nordstrom, similar here for US and here for UK
Sweater: Gap, similar here for US and here for UK
Jewelry: similar necklace and earrings for US and necklace and earrings for UK

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips and Trends: How to Celebrate the World Cup at Work (and stay within dress code!!)

World Cup at the Office

The entire world is watching the World Cup and cheering on their teams, but just because we work in conservative offices all day doesn't mean we can't show a bit of team spirit!! Here are some cute, office-appropriate ways to wear your team's colors and show who you are rooting for, while staying within the office dress code!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Red Jacket and Grey Pencil Skirt

This jacket is an example of how you can rework casual clothing into something that is work-appropriate. I bought this jacket in my early college from the Swiss equivalent of Forever 21. Back then it had a belt, big plastic buttons and looked "trendy" in the "I'm still a teenager" sort of way. Nine years later, the jacket still fit, so I switched out the plastic buttons for something more classy and office-appropriate, got rid of the belt and paired the jacket with a grey pencil skirt and nude heels for a tasteful, summer office look. Voila - a chic office look!!

Skirt: J. Crew
Jacket: similar here for the US and here for the UK
Cami: Ann Taylor, similar here for UK
Pumps: Corso Como, similar here for UK

Friday, June 13, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Little White Dress and Grey Blazer

Just like winter is all about the little black dress, summer is all about finding the perfect little white dress - the one that will go from work to cocktails while leaving you cool and comfortable. I found this PERFECT number at White House Black Market last year and, as their name implies, they have lots of great choices! For the perfect work look, I've paired it with a grey blazer and my Manolo Blahnik heels. For evening, I'd switch out the blazer for a colorful shawl and grab a cute clutch to match the red in my earrings. It's finally summer!!!!

Dress: White House Black Market, similar for US here and for UK here
Blazer: Nordstrom, similar for US here and UK here
Earrings: bought at a market in Tunisia, visit Etsy for some fun crafty options
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik (for US and UK)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tips and Trends: Office-Appropriate Summer Shoes

Office-Appropriate Summer Shoes

US: 1) Tory Burch, 2) Nine West, 3) Ivanka Trump, 4)Vince Camuto
UK: 1) Dune, 2) Dune, 3) KG by Kurt Geiger, 4) Carvela

Summer is the time when office dress codes relax (at least a little bit) and you can generally get away with a bit more freedom in your wardrobe. You may not be able to wear beach flip-flops or those super cute cork wedges to the office, but these shoes should give your feet a break from dreary black pumps.

1) Light Brown Peep-Toes
These are a versatile shoe choice to have in your closet, because they easily transition from the office to brunch out with your girlfriends. The light brown color and the peep toe make this definitely a summer shoe, but the classic style keeps it looking professional enough for the office. You can try these in either a pump or a wedge style - whatever you prefer!

2) Peep-toe Slingbacks
These are the closest you will get to wearing sandals in the office. If your feet and toes are just DYING to be set free this summer, they'll be able to experience a bit of that in a shoe that doesn't have a back and gives the toes some fresh air as well. Luckily, stars like Audry Hepburn made sure that slingbacks were given official "classy" status, so no one should bat an eye when you stroll in with bare heels. Just make sure your toe-nail polish is office appropriate!

3) Orange heels
If you are absolutely sick to death of the standard black/blue/grey/nude pumps and want something to give you a (visual) shot of vitamin C, look no further than these orange pumps. While the color might be too bright for three out of the four seasons, summer is the one time orange really comes into its own. When paired with staple summer colors like blue, white and beige, orange shoes can inject a pop of color while still staying chic and professional.

4) Electric Blue Flats
Since summer is the time for weddings and other parties, chances are that your feet may need a break in the office from weekends of wearing high heels. If so, these bright blue flats will be the perfect thing - a strong summery color, but in a foot-friendly style. Your feet will thank you and your closet will look rejuvenated!

Readers, what do you think? What are your favorite office-appropriate summer shoes?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What to Wear to Work: White Blazer and Blue Pinstriped Oxford

I know I've paired this striped oxford shirt with my navy blue pencil skirt on the blog before, but today I threw my beloved white Zara jacket over the oxford shirt to give it a bit of a different twist. The mixture of blue and white always makes me feel like summer (I think it's because white and blue always make me feel like I'm about to go sailing), plus adding the jacket keeps me warm in my overly air-conditioned office.

Skirt: Hong Kong, similar at J. Crew (US and UK)
Blouse: Forever 21, similar here for US and here for UK
Jacket: old Zara, similar here for US and here for UK
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik, available to order here (both US and UK)

Friday, June 6, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Black & White Blazer and Pencil Skirt

Today I finally got out my white pencil skirt because it was over 70 degrees here in London!! Of course the black and white blazer came along with me to the office, because my office was more like 55-60 degrees. This is my go-to professional look for the summer because I absolutely LOVE the black and white pairing. It always makes me think of Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn!!

Readers, what are your go-to summer color pairings?

Skirt: old Banana Republic, similar here for US and here for UK
Jacket: old Ann Taylor, this option is almost identical but quite pricy; for more affordable black and white blazers, see here for the US and here for the UK
Shoes: Stuart Weitzman (for both US and UK)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review and How To: Find the Perfect Oxford Shirt (aka Collared Blouse)

As someone who used to do lots of sewing (before I started working in BigLaw), in this series I'm hoping to pass on a bit of what I look for when shopping for high quality professional clothing by reviewing a popular work closet staple and describing how to find the perfect one for your closet. 

Scoring: I use a five point system, where a 3 is the average. For an aspect of the garment to receive a 3, that means that the garment has met what I would consider the average standard for a garment of that purported quality level and price range.

Today's review: Banana Republic's Oxford Shirt 
Available here

Overall Score: 3/5

About this piece:
Sorry for the low quality of pictures, but it has been quite grey in London recently and my camera does not like the low light levels in my apartment (though to be fair, I don't either). The Oxford shirt is a classic business wardrobe staple, primarily because it mimics the men's dress shirt and is very easy to throw on in the morning. That being said, a poorly made or poorly fitted oxford shirt can look easily look sloppy. Unfortunately, it's very easy for these shirts to look sloppy, as they were originally designed to be worn by men who do not have curves. Therefore, manufacturers who simply try to make smaller versions of their men's oxford shirt should generally be avoided.

The fabric here is 100% cotton and is thick enough that your bra will not show through (always very important). Cotton is generally the way to go on these shirts because it breathes, which is really important. The downside is that it also wrinkles, which is why a nice poly-cotton blend is sometimes a better option, as the polyester means that the shirt won't wrinkle as easily. With blends, however, it's important to find a fabric that looks high quality, as too much polyester in the blend will make the shirt start looking like it's from Forever 21.

Construction: 4
The construction of the garment is very basic, with curved seams running up the back of the shirt. Those curved seams allow the garment to be manipulated so that it lies smoothly across a woman's curvy body. Men can get away with a shirt that is basically three pieces - 1 back piece and 2 front pieces - but for women, it's better to break the shirt down into six pieces, as they have done here, because it allows the maker to cut the pieces on the bias and then piece them together so the shirt lies flat across the body's curves. This shirt is made of two front pieces and four back pieces: three panels across the back which are all cut on the bias (numbers 1, 2 and 3), plus the panel that goes across the shoulders (4). All of this is to say that the shirt is definitely made with women in mind and, with some tailoring, could be easily altered to fit different body types.

Detail: 2
While the shirt gets an extra point for construction, it loses a point on details. There isn't much you can do with a basic oxford, but even the little things have been left out here. For example, as you can see from the picture below, there is only one button on the cuff. Most men's shirts have two buttons: one to close the cuff and one small button to close the placket. While it's not a necessity, it is a nice touch to have the extra placket button, as it gives the shirt a more tailored, professional look. 

In addition, there are no tucks on the cuff. If you look at high-end men's dress shirts, they will sometimes add small extra tucks of fabric either into the placket or on the outward-facing side of the cuff. Those tucks are an additional sign of quality. 

As far as the collar, it's about as basic as you can get. They also have not reinforced it with anything, such as extra stitching or some additional fabric on the underside, in order to enable it to say propped open. For a casual look that would be fine, but this shirt is being marketed as the women's equivalent of a man's dress shirt. Something additional could definitely have been added to help this collar maintain its shape.

The fit on this shirt is very average and will almost certainly need some alterations. However, as long as the shoulders of the shirt fit and are not too short, the alterations will most likely be minimal. The most common alterations this shirt will probably need are to take in the back bias seams (as shown below - note how the fabric is folded over) in order to achieve a better fit, and to shorten the shirt if you find it a touch too long. My advice on how to fit this shirt is to purchase the size that fits correctly across your bust, and then have a tailor take in the back bias seams to eliminate excess fabric in the back of the shirt. The reason for this is you need the two front panels of the shirt (the panels that you button over your bust) to be the correct size in order to not strain the front buttons. However, once you have that fitted properly you can always take in the back bias seams to get rid of any excess fabric that you find bunching up in the back. You may also have to short the shirt a bit, as it seemed about half an inch too long on me (I have an average-length torso).

Readers, what do you think of oxford shirts (aka collared blouses)? Any tips for finding the perfect one or getting them to fit properly?

Monday, June 2, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Peacock Print Sheath Dress

Today I'm debuting a fun printed dress for the office with one of my favorite animal patterns on it: peacock feathers!! This dress could easily go into cocktail hour if I removed the cardigan, but it's definitely conservative enough to be a decent work dress. I paired it with my beloved Repetto T-straps, but I think the pop of color might be a bit much with the print. I might change into basic nude pumps once I get to the office. Regardless of what shoes I wear, the print on this dress always makes me happy!

Dress: Nordstrom, similar fun but office-appropriate printed dresses here for US and here for UK
Cardigan: J. Crew (for US and UK)
Shoes: Repetto, similar blue T-straps here, here and here

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