Summer Capsule Work Wardrobe – Business Casual with Color

Living in the hot and humid DC area, I understand the difficulty of appearing polished and professional when the temperatures rise. Though it’s tempting to throw your hair in a quick ponytail and wear the skimpiest and lightest weight clothing in our closet, it’s important to dress appropriately for the workplace, no matter the weather. Many of you have emailed lately asking how to dress for the weather, some of you work in creative fields, some in business casual environments, and many of you are teachers. Below is a sample summer capsule wardrobe for the workplace that is high on color and personality.

Summer capsule wardrobe - Business casual with color and personality, perfect for teachers! By Wardrobe OxygenShop the Capsule Wardrobe:

Fabric choice matters when it comes to creating a summer capsule wardrobe. Plenty of retailers will have synthetic and jersey knits filling the sales floor, but such fabrics are not comfortable on a hot or humid day. They’re also more likely to cling, and quicker to look cheap or too casual for the workplace. Seek out cotton, linen blends, silk and silk blends, and tencel for fabrics that breathe and don’t cling when the temps rise.

Shop Pants and Skirts:

Ankle and slightly cropped pants give a bit more airflow than traditional trousers and are available in cotton, twill, and other summery fabrics. While it’s tempting to stick to neutrals, bright colors and prints are surprisingly versatile. A pair of orange or red pants will go great with basic black or white, be a great contrast to denim and neutrals like khaki and olive, and are gorgeous when paired with other colors like turquoise, coral, and violet. Treat a pattern as a neutral; the green printed pants featured would work well with the chambray shirt or black silk shell, but also would complement the melon-colored wrap top or the aqua silk tee. Stripes are brilliant for pattern-mixing and would also go with these pants; to tone it down consider adding a black or white blazer or cardigan. Culottes of all widths and lengths are back in style and really great for hot days; treat them like a midi skirt and pair with flats or pointed toe low heels for a feminine vibe. Fuller skirts of fabrics with body (cotton, sateen, twill, ponte) will stand away from the body giving you air flow and comfort on hot days; a hem ending at the top of the knee to mid-calf will provide modesty while still keeping you cool. Again, a print can often be more versatile than a neutral solid; this orange print skirt would look great with the striped top, a simple tank of any color and the dotted cardigan, the chambray shirt, the aqua silk tee, and even tucking in the melon-colored top for a monoblocking effect.

Shop Dresses:

Dresses are brilliant in the summer for both ease and comfort. Again, choose fabrics that have some body so they don’t cling to the body and provide a breeze. Dresses that provide focus at the waist automatically look more polished than shift or tee-shirt style dresses; if you choose cotton or breathable fabrics it won’t be much hotter. A dress with a subtle fit and flare shape looks equally great on the weekend with a pair of flat sandals as it does to a day wedding with heels; a fun print distracts from red faces and dripping necks. A shirtdress is a classic style that will be flattering for summers to come; a bright color keeps it from looking like a uniform. Switch up belts (or tie a scarf at the waist) to change the look. While matte jersey is a synthetic knit, it doesn’t cling like traditional jersey and doesn’t wrinkle making it a good choice for summer. A simple dress in a graphic print provides impact with simple one-piece dressing; switch out the self-belt for a different one in your closet to give a frock a new look.  Be sure dresses have necklines and backs appropriate for the workplace; if you need a special bra it’s likely exposing too much.

Shop Tops:

With tops, look for ones that can have two lives. All of these tops can look great untucked or tucked in, adding variety. Tuck the denim shirt into the skirt, tie it at the waist of the culottes, or wear untucked over the ankle pants. Tops are where solids are often more versatile and can dress up more easily; the turquoise silk tee with the printed pants is perfect for a basic day at the office but if you add a black blazer the outfit is suddenly appropriate for a client meeting.

Shop Cardigans and Blazers:

No matter the temperature, it’s good to have at least one layering piece in your wardrobe for too-strong air conditioning, transition weather, and when you need a bit more coverage. For this capsule wardrobe I added a black and white polka-dot cardigan, but this could be switched out for a simpler cardigan in a neutral or signature color, or a blazer. It’s not a bad idea to keep such an item at your workplace to slip on when unexpected situations arise.

Shop Accessories:

Summer is a great time to get more creative with your accessories. One or two statement necklaces in the focal colors of your wardrobe can truly pull the entire capsule together. To minimize the number of accessories you need, consider sticking to one color metal to keep things cohesive and styling simpler. Instead of a bag to match your shoes, consider a bold signature color that will coordinate with everything in your closet. With shoes, you don’t need a lot. For this capsule I chose a gold flat sandal and a black patent kitten heel; both work with all the skirts and dresses and give completely different effects. A skinny black patent belt can offer a layer of polish, whether it’s through the beltloops of ankle pants with a tucked in blouse, or worn at the waistband of the skirt. Finally, consider a sunglasses upgrade this season; a pair of designer frames in a classic silhouette shows you’re aware of trends yet appreciate quality. If treated well, such sunglasses will provide you with many years of sun protection with style.

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All the June Things

How is this month almost over? I feel I was just writing the Style File for the beginning of June! But time flies when you’re having fun, and this month has been pretty spectacular.

PicMonkey CollageJune 4th was our 11th wedding anniversary. Last year’s anniversary was pretty terrible – I was still in a splint and a lot of pain from my second arm surgery and couldn’t go far from home. We went to a local Tex Mex restaurant where Emerson threw a fit and my mom called stranded at the airport after her trip to Russia. I spent the dinner trying to secure her a ride home from Dulles and the evening ended with both Karl and I getting food poisoning from the meal. We swore this year would be better. We had tickets to see The Decemberists and Father John Misty the night of the 4th but there was a torrential downpour. We had lawn seats and decided it would be a far nicer night staying in our warm dry house, listening to albums and enjoying a bottle of wine.

June 6th was Emerson’s end of the year recital for her dance school. The theme was “Alice in Dancerland” and Emerson’s class had two performances – one jazz as a Jub Jub bird, and one ballet where she was a Changeling. She did an awesome job, and it was so cool to see her performing on a big stage at an historic theater in our area that I visited when I was her age. It was an especially emotional recital because it was the last for her school, which is closing. Emerson has been taking dance there since she was three and we’ll miss the teachers, the students, and I will miss the gang of parents I used to hang with during classes. Over all these years we have become friends and we haven’t been able to find another school that fits all of our schedules and is as convenient of a location.

June 10th the sutures were removed from my arm. I’m doing a bit of physical therapy now to prevent scar tissue from causing issue and to build up some strength in my fingers, but it’s not a big deal and I really enjoy PT.

June 11th was my blog party, which was a big fun blur. Hrm, I can vaguely recall dancing to EMF’s “Unbelievable” and a certain friend and party host admitting she saw them in concert way back when…

June 12th Emerson presented her first school project. Each class had a country they studied for Multicultural Night, and Emerson’s class was China. To add to this, each student was assigned an animal they had to do report on. Emerson got monkey, so we focused on the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey. She made this awesome diorama and a simple report and did a great job presenting in front of her class and other parents. After, her class performed a play about the Chinese animals in the zodiac; Emerson was the rat.

The Wednesday after was Emerson’s kindergarten graduation. No tiny caps and gowns, but the four kindergarten classes walked up to receive certificates and performed two songs for the audience. We got Emerson an Our Generation doll as a graduation gift and my mom and sister pitched in together to buy her the Our Generation Airstream trailer and the five of us went out for a celebratory lunch.

It’s amazing how far Emerson has come in one school year – she’s reading us bedtime stories now, she is always writing letters and notes and entries in her diary, she’s saving money and understanding how to add and subtract, she’s extremely independent and self-sufficient and we’ve learned that she LOVES performing in front of an audience. This summer she’ll be in a creative performance camp and will begin ballet classes at a new school.

In Girl Scouts, this month we had an second Investiture Ceremony for the three girls who have joined our troop in the past couple of months, and tomorrow we’re having our end of the year ceremony which includes four of our girls bridging to Brownies. Last week, the Service Unit had a peace rally in the community where they erected a peace pole older Girl Scout troops decorated and we all made peace cranes. While we won’t have any meetings this summer, us three co-leaders will be busy creating curriculum for the fall and independent study for the girls who missed meetings to earn petals and those older girls who were only in Daisies one year but want to earn all the petals before going to Brownies.

July and August are already looking busy. I’ll be going to my first blogging conference – BlogHer next month, and bringing Emerson and Karl with me. Between seminars and such the three of us will get a taste of The Big Apple; Karl and I have been many times but not for a while and Emerson has never been. August Karl and I are taking a couples weekend (details in an upcoming blog post), and my mom, sister, Emerson, and I will take our annual Girls Weekend to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in September. There’s a few concerts already on the books and I likely will add a few more as the weeks go by and the Evites and Facebook Events have been rolling in for crab feasts, cookouts, and children’s birthdays and I can see every weekend filling up. But it’s all good stuff.

This month has been full, but really full of good people, good memories, good actions. I feel really blessed to have this life and be surrounded by such amazing people. I know summer will be over in the blink of an eye but I’m going to do my best to slow down, take deep breaths, and be present as much as possible. I hope you’re all doing well, and I’d love hear of any summer plans you have!

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Jumpsuits that Fit, Flatter, and Let You Pee

I’m a jumpsuit fan. I’ve been rocking this jumpsuit from Karen Kane for a couple years, and now that every retailer has jumped on the jumpsuit train, I’ve been adding to my wardrobe with some great one-piece outfits that look great for the office, a night out, or even running errands on the weekend. Every time I feature a jumpsuit on the blog or Instagram I always have at least one person say they never thought a soft curvy person or a petite person could carry off a jumpsuit. And I always have at least one person comment on the issue with jumpsuits and needing to use the restroom.

Shopping Guide: Jumpsuits that fit, flatter and let you pee by Wardrobe Oxygen

Ladies, you can wear a jumpsuit no matter your shape or size. And ladies, there ARE jumpsuits out there that let you pee without ten minutes of procedure and a friend to assist.

A couple months ago, HauteLook had DVF on clearance. I love Diane von Furstenberg the woman and I also love Diane von Furstenberg the fashion so I was excited to possibly score some more DVF for my wardrobe at a reasonable price. I was even more excited to see some DVF jumpsuits featured and available in a size 14. I frantically clicked BUY before it sold out and a couple days later a black and white printed DVF jumpsuit was at my front door. I raced upstairs and tore open the bag. Ten minutes later I was crying, sweating, had several pulled muscles and was swearing a woman who I consider a hero. I bet a lot of you are laughing, nodding your heads, recalling similar experiences when trying to take off jumpsuits. But not all jumpsuits are created equal, and from my experience the fit, comfort, and pee-ability of a jumpsuit has nothing to do with the name on the label or the price on the tag. A few tips to find a great jumpsuit:

Seek Stretch: Jersey and Lycra-infused Jumpsuits

My Karen Kane jumpsuit is a nubby-crepe textured stretch that is low on shine and can look dressy quite easily. The bodice is a wrap or surplice style so the neckline can stretch a lot for quick removal when changing or using the restroom. There’s a built-in camisole for modesty but it’s only on the front of the jumpsuit, making the bodice still loose enough to easily slip on and off.

I have this jumpsuit from Loveappeala and I adore it. I wore it to work with a wide belt and caged sandals with a slight heel, but many weekends you’ll see me wearing it with a pair of Converse Shorelines or my Birkenstocks. It has a couple pleats on the bottom to keep it loose and comfortable and again, it has an easy wrap-style bodice.

Shop Printed Jumpsuits:

From my experience, if you’re between sizes, size up. Jumpsuits often run short in the torso and are prone to cling on the bum; stretchy jumpsuits don’t have to have a slim fit so sizing up can add comfort and better drape on your lower half. My local dry cleaner was able to shorten my Karen Kane jumpsuit for only $10 and I have had tailors and dry cleaners adjust the length of straps and even take in seams on jersey pieces for just a few dollars.

Fabric makes the difference whether you can wear a stretchy jumpsuit to a wedding, the workplace, or if it’s best left for the bar or a beach barbecue. Matte jersey, crepe jersey, and silk jersey have a more elegant finish, hold dye better providing a richer color, and are less clingy making them better for dressier or more formal situations. If you feel a jumpsuit may be inappropriate for the office, you’re probably correct. Even crepe jersey jumpsuits can be clingy, especially on the rear, and often have silhouettes or details that may be too trendy for an office setting. A wrap-style dress with an added cami can look appropriate at work, but a jumpsuit with the same bodice may be seen as unprofessional. Always steer on the side of conservativeness when considering a work wardrobe.

Shop Plus Size Jumpsuits:

Tee-shirt fabric, jersey, and fabrics that have been smocked (stitched with elastic so it is stretchy) are best left for casual settings. The same holds true for strapless, spaghetti strap, and in my opinion, most sleeveless jumpsuits are best kept for times outside the office (no, adding a cardigan will not make it suddenly look corporate).

Non-Stretch Jumpsuits that are Bathroom-friendly

The reason I had a panic attack and pulled muscles in that DVF jumpsuit was because I needed to be Houdini to be able to take it off and I had just finished a bottle of water. Jumpsuits are stylish, and we women like wearing stylish clothing to social events, and social events usually have beverages. I don’t care how utterly adorable or flattering a jumpsuit is, if you can’t pee without an entourage or double-jointed capabilities you shouldn’t purchase it. That doesn’t mean you have to rule out all non-stretchy jumpsuits. Some can actually be quite wearable and accessible.

Shop Tall Jumpsuits:

I have a sleeveless silk-like jumpsuit with a jewel neck that fits a bit more like coveralls. Loose straight torso with a drawstring waist and wide cropped legs, I’ve worn it to the office with heels and worn it on the weekend with flat sandals. The reason it works is because it has buttons from neck to navel and those buttons are easy to work and that perfect space where you don’t get a flash of my bra when I stretch. I also have a spaghetti strap jumpsuit from Karen Kane that also works because it too has a drawstring waist and the bodice is loose enough to slip over the shoulder.

Shop Casual Jumpsuits:

I’m short, I’m fat, and there’s no way I can wield a back zipper without pulling a muscle. Hell, trying to take on and off a jumpsuit with a side zipper also has its issues, especially when in a public bathroom without a full-length mirror. The only jumpsuits I’ve found that are non-stretchy and have a zipper that can work in a jiffy are spaghetti strap or strapless jumpsuits. These styles require a shorter zipper and can often be twisted a bit when getting the zipper started. Also look for styles with smocked or elasticized panels which help with getting on and off.

Shop Dressy Jumpsuits:

Before dropping coin, drop the jumpsuit. Try a few times – can you honestly slip it on and off in a rush? Could you do it in a cramped bathroom stall at a bar or concert venue or wedding ballroom? Do you need to be careful about tiny hooks and eyes or too-tight button holes? Be realistic, you have no idea how long that bathroom line may be or how you may be feeling that evening. No jumpsuit is cute enough to risk an accident or wardrobe malfunction.

Tips for Buying and Wearing Jumpsuits:

  • Size up. Unless it’s a non-stretchy fitted style, you can usually go up a size without it affecting the line of the piece. This will reduce cling on the bum and give a bit more fabric in the bodice to be able to get on and off with ease. A dry cleaner can adjust hem and strap length for little money.
  • If you’re petite, try the regular version (and if you’re regular consider tall). Again, jumpsuits can run short in the torso, and very short in that space between waistband and crotch. I’ve found regular jumpsuits to often fit me better in the body.
  • Seek stretch. Whether the whole jumpsuit is made of jersey or just a portion, stretch will make it easier to work with and be more forgiving to your figure.
  • Avoid VPL. I have yet to see a jumpsuit that doesn’t at least skim the rear. It’s easy to worry about lifting the bust and whittling the waist and forget about the back view. Seamless undergarments, thongs, and even bike short-style undergarments will give a smooth finish for the jumpsuit (I often wear my Skimmies under jumpsuits).
  • Reference your underwear drawer. Don’t buy a strapless jumpsuit if you don’t have a comfortable and flattering strapless bra (and they do exist). Don’t try to cover up bra straps by wearing a tank or tee under a jumpsuit meant to wear on its own. Same with halters, spaghetti straps, cutouts, open backs, and the rest. That jumpsuit may look hella cute on the hanger, but without the right underpinnings you won’t get the right effect. Don’t try to reinvent your lingerie drawer or redesign your figure, there’s another cute jumpsuit out there that’s perfect for you and your current wardrobe!
  • Consider your shoes.  A wide-leg jumpsuit needs a substantial shoe – a wedge, caged sandal, or platform is a good choice to balance the width.  In turn, a narrow leg or banded leg jumpsuit needs a more delicate shoe.  Just as you do with a dress, factor in footwear.  Don’t think because you have a long leg you can get away with old flats or sandals; a shoe makes the man and the woman!
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