Posts tagged with wardrobe:

Hi Jaclyn! I am returning to work full time after 3 years off of traveling, freelancing and maternity leave. I'm sure you can imagine the state of my wardrobe. I need some great quality basics to get me back into the 9-5 groove. The office dress code allows for jeans and more casual wear. I am 5'11 and have always struggled finding blouses and bottoms that work for me. I also really struggle with building a versatile wardrobe with pieces that can be recombined effectively. Any pointers?

- Asked by ultreyamama

Love this question! 

My ultimate versatile wardrobe tip is to decide ahead of time whether you’d prefer:

  • Neutral clothes with occasional pops of color as accents or…
  • Clothes in various complimentary colors and use neutral accessories to tie them together. 

I follow the first method. I buy mostly neutral clothes and shy away from prints (unless they are stripes which don’t exactly count as a print) and then use prints/color very occasionally in items like scarves, coats, shoes, etc. 

If that sounds like it will work for you too, start keeping an eye out for minimal basics in colors like black (OBVIOUSLY), white, off-white, taupe, gray, camel and navy. The same thing goes for denim: blue denim, black denim, white denim. Look for trousers or ponte pants in black or gray. 

Let’s break this down a little more:

  • Denim: Jeans have come a long way and you don’t have to buy expensive jeans for them to look tailored and high quality. Since you’re tall, I’ll recommend some of my favorite spots. Don’t overlook AE just because you might have bought a hoodie there in high school or college or whenever. They have really fantastic denim at crazy-low prices. Their high-rise jeggings (like this, $35) are so comfortable and keep everything tucked up and in. They also come in long inseams and that is great. I’ve had great luck with Gap and Old Navy jeans of late. Don’t bother looking in the store—they often don’t carry the tall inseams and you’ll probably want them. The Gap 1969 line is especially good and these—a medium wash for $70—could be worn with almost anything. For black jeans, try Old Navy’s The Rockstar for $35. They’re a little stretchy and quite long if you buy them in the tall inseam. 
  • Trousers/Ponte Pants: Since you work in a casual office, I think you can put conservative work trousers on hold for a bit and just look for straight or skinny ponte pants. J.Crew’s tall Pixie pant ($98) is a fantastic investment piece for you. You’ll wear them all the time. If $98 gives you an ulcer, check out Target’s ponte options. I have a few and am so happy with them. This pair is just $28! Watch for sales from LOFT too. Lots of ponte options, like these tall ponte pants for $45. 
  • Blouses/Tops: I usually keep things pretty standard on the bottom (basic denim, black pants, whatever) but experiment with more trendy pieces on top. (By more trendy, I mean I wore peplum this year so take that with a grain of salt.) ZARA has some really fantastic blouses if you can look past all the nonsense crop tops. The prices are great too. This v-neck top ($60) is perfect for wearing with jeans or ponte pants and ballet flats or pumps. This oversize poplin blouse ($60) is long enough to be tucked in or worn as-is with a jacket or sweater. J.Crew Factory is a fantastic source for inexpensive, pretty tops and blouses too. This striped ponte peplum blouse ($44.50) would look great with a black or camel jacket. Their Charley sweaters are the Factory version of J.Crew Tippis. This neon one ($43) in pink would be a pretty color to spice up your denim or basic black pants/pencil skirt. Watch for J.Crew sales too. This matte crepe tee ($70) is the PERFECT basic short-sleeved work blouse. This silk sweatshirt top in ivory ($130) is something you could wear over and over again. It would dress up jeans or look chic with gray pants. Basically look for neutral colored tops in fabrics that you can dress up or down (silk, wool, poplin, crepe or viscose/another synthetic that mimics those fabrics). If you’re like me, it can be hard finding blouses with sleeves that are long enough (J.Crew is a chronic offender) so buy tall versions if you can, or simply get tops that have 3/4th length sleeves or sleeves that can be rolled. 
  • Dresses/Skirts: To be honest, if your office is casual, you probably won’t be wearing pencil skirts very often so maybe get one or two (black and gray or black and a light-colored linen blend) just in case. Dresses are a better option and they’re easier for getting ready in the morning too. With skirts you have to figure out a top that will go with it and then make sure it tucks in properly (if it’s supposed to tuck in) and then you have to find shoes that work with the whole thing and maybe add a cardigan or a jacket so it looks finished and frankly, no. That’s too much work for me. The right dress is a complete outfit—just add shoes. Since you’re in a casual office, I assume you don’t want to wear too stuffy a dress so I’d look for jersey dresses in neutral colors. This gray one from Topshop ($58) is midi-length and could be worn with sandals for a more casual look or pumps if you want to dress up more. This midi-length black dress is just $50! You could style it a million ways: with a moto jacket, with a scarf, with wedges in the summer, with ankle boots. Tons of ways to wear it. This crepe shift dress from Wayf is just $58—so cute. A shirt dress is another great idea for you. It’s right between casual and dressy. Boden’s shirtdress ($128) is so pretty. I like their ponte dress too ($128). 

Once you have a few of these key items, you can mix and match them really easily. A few colorful scarves—maybe cobalt, yellow, coral?—will look amazing set off against a neutral outfit. Because the clothes are so versatile, you can almost wear any shoe you want in any color you feel like. Flats, wedges, pumps, ankle boots—they can be worn interchangeably with almost everything I’ve listed here. The best thing about the items above are that they’re perfect for cross-season dressing. Add tights or leggings/boots for winter with the dresses. Throw a cardigan over the striped peplum tank in the fall. Wear jeans with flats or sandals during the summer and with tall boots or ankle boots in the winter. Simple clothes = less time to get ready and less time adjusting to seasonal wardrobe changes. Another great thing is that you can repeat items more often and no one is the wiser. You can’t wear a loud, obvious printed blouse to the office 3 times in one week (well, you could, but you know what I mean), but you could absolutely wear a basic jersey shift dress 3 out of 5 days. Wear it one day with a jacket and ankle boots. Wear it another day with a belt, a long necklace and pumps. Wear it another day with a scarf and wedges. 

I’d suggest going in your closet and taking a look at what you know does not work for you and getting rid of it so that you can make a list and fill in the gaps with things that can be worn with multiple other items. It’s worth spending a bit more money on minimal items that you’ll wear over and over again, but you don’t HAVE to spend tons of money to find things that are flattering and good quality. Just be willing to do lots of returns! (Especially if you’re shopping online.) 

Also check out these other similar posts I’ve done:

I hope this helps. :) Have fun shopping! 

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Spring Closet Cleaning

Last year I did a Spring Closet Makeover post and followed that up with a post about how to wear your entire closet. In addition to my spring cleanout last year, I did one pre-fall/winter and I just tackled my closet again yesterday. After several hours of sorting and re-sorting, I ended up with five large trash bags full of things to donate. It felt so good. I used to go through my closet and end up with maybe one small bag, choosing instead to hoard things or keep them JUST IN CASE. But I’ve gotten more ruthless and I like it. I really like it. 

I’m doing a Part II to last year’s post because I feel like I’m finally following my own advice. I did okay during last year’s cleanouts—I was finally able to part with a lot of things I was keeping around for sentimental reasons—but yesterday’s sort-and-toss was the first time I really edited with intention and desire. I wanted those things gone. It wasn’t a painful extraction and it didn’t feel like I was having to part with old friends. It was GIRL BYE. 

So, here are a few more tips to put into context how I changed this process from one I dreaded and avoided to one that I approach with glee and anticipation. Clean all the things! 

  • Make it a habit. Seasonal cleanouts are easiest for me. By the time spring rolls around, I’m pretty sick of winter clothes anyway. This makes it easier for me to toss a sweater I haven’t worn in the past six months because SERIOUSLY HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO WEAR SWEATERS IN GENERAL. I’ve been doing twice yearly cleanouts now (one right before spring, one right before fall/winter) and that seems to work great for me. Some people like to do the one in, one out thing: Buy something, donate something. That’s too much fuss for me but I like the idea. Anyway, now that I’ve gotten into the habit of regular cleanouts, I really look forward to them. 
  • Forget the money. I used to hold on to stuff that I spent $$ on but I’ve learned that money should be my last consideration if I want to do a really effective cleaning effort. Besides, most items I donate are ones that I bought because money was barely a consideration at the time of purchase. They were usually on sale or a good deal (or inexpensive and trendy). They were something I had to have until I didn’t. It’s disingenuous to worry about the money at the point at which said item is simply languishing, sitting. Someone else could be wearing that and they might love it. The transaction is done. Time to let it go. 
  • Keeping sentimental items can be okay. But keeping sentimental items that don’t fit is not okay. What does that pair of jeans from 6 years ago that won’t go over my hips remind me of? Nothing useful except that I used to have narrower hips. (-_____-) Getting rid of maternity items or nursing clothes/bras has been hard for me, but I realized that I could keep a few things—like my favorite robe or one nursing tank—and let the rest go without feeling guilty or sad. They don’t fit. Why keep them? This rule is tough when it comes to shoes too. I had several pairs of shoes that I loved but either didn’t fit quite right or weren’t comfortable. I would have kept them a few years ago but not now. I don’t care how much I love a pair of shoes. If they eat my feet, they’re gone. 
  • I want my closet to feel like a boutique and not a ROSS. Price point is not a factor when I say that. It’s JUST about presentation. If everything is crammed together with no thought or pattern or meaning, it’s just chaos all around. There MIGHT be a gem somewhere in the clutter, but who has time for that? Who has the energy for that? If things are spaced out, everything becomes valuable. I trust that what’s left is something that I have worn, do wear and feel comfortable in. 
  • Some closet organization advice sucks balls (maybe including this post), so do what works for you. I’ve read so many articles that say to organize by color or by function (work dresses here, sundresses there) but that does not—DOES NOT—work for me. Organize by color. OKAY. Half the closet is black. I cannot find a damn thing. Organize by function. SURE. Most of my clothes are casual now. Almost everything is the SAME FUNCTION. Either of these organization styles (or a combo of both) might work great for you, but I prefer to organize things straight down the line. Jeans, cardigans, maxi dresses, jackets, blouses. The casual jackets and activewear jackets are in the same area. Horrors! But at least I KNOW where all the damn jackets are. Tshirts and casual shirts get their own space. Hoodies another. The exception to this general labeling is that some of my activewear/slug stuff/leggings are organized separately: long leggings, cropped leggings, tanks, long-sleeved tops, etc. 
  • Undergarments matter. I don’t care how nice the rest of the closet looks: If my bras are losing their elasticity and shape or don’t fit correctly, I get LEVEL 10 annoyed. My most recent problem was that any and all bras I wore from 2010-2013-ish no longer fit. I had mercifully kept a few randoms around from my college days (sentimentality hoarding at its worst) and they fit. I wore these until I could get my hands on some new ones. My go-to spot for bras/underwear is Aerie because the quality is good, the fit is outstanding and the prices are best of all. Recent bra picks included this one ($20, so comfy), this one ($20, love the longline style) and this one ($35, another longline option). These Aerie seamless thongs (4 for $26.50) are the best, full-stop, for wearing with leggings. They’re so damn comfortable. I know you don’t believe me, but just try them. You’ll see. 
  • Don’t overlook accessories. The last few cleanouts I’ve forgotten to go through my scarves and tights and hats/gloves/socks and such. Yesterday I made a special note to finally go through that stuff properly and whoooooo boy. Lots of it had to go.
  • The best part of a really quality cleaning job is seeing what spaces need to be filled. Based on what I kept and set aside for donation yesterday, I can see that I’m good on shorts and tees/casual tanks for summer, but I want to get a few more neutral casual dresses—shorter ones and maxi dresses. I used to buy a lot of print dresses for the warmer months (stupid), so I’ll focus on finding some great black and white ones this year. 

Good luck and happy donating! 

P.S. Would love to hear your tips for closet organization. ?

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Post-gym!
Lululemon Warm Up Crew Pullover (Similar by GapFit)
GapFit Tank (Similar by GapFit)
Zella Leggings
Old Navy Flip Flops 
Target Sunglasses (Similar from Target)
Lululemon Bag (Similar by Nine West)

Post-gym!

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Traveling today.
Lululemon Front Racer Tank (Similar from ASOS)
Victoria’s Secret Ponte Leggings 
Carrini Mini-Wedge Sandals (via Zulily) (Similar from Target)
Yuni Kelley Bracelet
Lululemon Bag (Similar from Aldo)
Forever 21 Pyramid Bracelets

Traveling today.

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