Search Results for: label/office wear

Ask Allie: Very Casual Office Attire

I was wondering if you could do a capsule collection for the casual workplace. My workplace is so casual that I have coworkers who walk around in cargo shorts and flip-flops all summer, pretty much everyone wears jeans always, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a coworker or two in actual pajamas. I like dresses and skirts, I love jewelry, but lately I’ve been defaulting to a uniform of jeans/sneakers/artsy tee/cardigan. I’d like to get out of that rut but still fit in.

I work in a very casual place people wear yoga pants and flip flops to work. I like to dress nicely but don’t want to stand out or look snooty any advice?

I work for myself but in a collaborative office setting; the dress code is casual but everyone is very visually inspired and aware of fashion. I’m a jeans and tee shirt sort of girl, any ideas on what I can wear to be comfortable, be me, but not be a clueless slob?

I once worked in a very casual office environment, and understand your issue. While on the surface a very relaxed dress code can seem like a treat, but when you really break it down it can be even more difficult and confusing than a conservative corporate environment. Even if you CAN wear yoga pants and dollar store flip flops, that doesn’t mean you should. You want to fit in, but also show your dedication to the company, be ready for the chance meeting with a customer, and also lead by example. This can be done without a single blazer or blouse!

With this sample capsule wardrobe, I took casual basics and stepped them up a slight notch so they look a bit more polished, but just as comfortable. With jeans, I chose a dark wash that looks more polished and is usually more versatile than distressed. A pair of jeans or twill pants in a neutral like olive adds variety to a wardrobe without being too memorable for versatility. For knits, break out of the basic tee-shirt rut by incorporating classic prints, unique fabrics like linen and silk, and interesting draping. Layers keep you comfortable in an overly air conditioned office and add mileage to your wardrobe basics. A denim shirt looks great on its own, tied over a dress, or worn open with a tank and skinny jeans. An open cardigan can be worn as-is or can be transformed with a wide belt. A short-sleeved sweater in a loose weave is comfortable in an office in the summer, but also layers nicely over longer-sleeved knits and shirts when the temperature drops. Tee-shirt dresses are easy one-piece dressing that can dress up with a scarf and wedges or get uber casual with sandals and a ponytail. A gathered knee-length skirt in a lightweight cotton dresses up simple tees and tanks without sacrificing comfort.

Accessories are a way to add personality and jazz up simple knits and denim. For this collection of soft neutrals, I added a wood necklace and a floral printed gauze scarf; neither are too glitzy or shiny for a casual office. As for shoes, a pair of ankle boots with a flat heel look great with dresses, skirts, and pants; a pair of leather sandals are smart with dresses but also pair nicely with denim for a bit of a boho look. As previously mentioned, a wide belt (smart to have in the same color/material as your shoes) can transform not just an open cardigan, but dresses and tunics.

Stick to casual fabrics – linen, cotton, jersey, denim, chambray. This will keep the casual vibe even if it’s a more formal silhouette. While staying in these fabrics, choose saturated colors. Faded, distressed, and weathered fabrics are hot this summer but can easily look messy and too casual for an office.

And finally, flip flops should be kept for the pool and yoga pants for yoga. These days there are so many comfortable shoes and pants available, there’s no need to wear workout clothes to the office. Consider stretch denim, jersey, and ponte knit for pants and a pair of espadrilles or flat sandals in place of the flops.

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Summer Office Wear – Beating the Heat with Professionalism

When the temps and humidity rise, the last thing you want to do is wiggle into a crisp button-front shirt or shrug into a tailored blazer or lined suiting trousers. How to stay polished at the office when it’s the peak of summer outside? My go-to look is a breezy blouse. Below I share ways to style such a blouse; all pieces featured in this post are under $100.

summer office wear silk top ankle pantsShop Summer Office Blouses:

A drapey or fuller blouse in a breezy fabric like chiffon, challis, crepe, or silk feels great on a hot summer day but if styled incorrectly can add bulk to the body and also give off more of a pajama or loungewear vibe. Styling such a top with a pair of crisp and trim trousers balances the volume and adds a professional touch. While it may feel too hot for closed-toe shoes, such a choice clearly makes the outfit officewear. Consider commuting in a pair of sandals and slipping on the pumps once you arrive at your air conditioned destination.

Shop Straight Pants for the Office:

A drapey pair of pants (joggers, harem pants, pleated crops, culottes) can also work if you tuck in your top or choose a more fitted top. Again, your shoes determine if this outfit is for weekend or the workplace; a pump, mule, or slide with a heel will add a level of formality to an outfit with a lot of volume.

summer office fashion loose pants blouseShop Loose or Slouchy Pants for the Office:

A blouse in a thin fabric can tuck in nicely without adding too much volume. Pairing with a pair of wider leg trousers also in a fabric that drapes (linen, poly blends, rayon, tencel) works if you choose accessories to temper the volume. Tucking in the blouse shows the figure; consider adding a belt with a bit of shine to better enhance the figure and also add polish. A pendant necklace holds down the blouse, again showing the figure. A flat shoe keeps you grounded; while it may be tempting to throw on a pair of flip flops or even leather thongs, your shoe with such an outfit determines if the look is good for a resort or an office. Sandals with wider straps in polished leather or a metallic, slides with soles to match, and pointed toe flats are all great choices. Even if your outfit is made of linen, it’s important to iron or steam your look for the office. There is a clear difference between creases from the car or office chair and rumpled fabric from lack of care.

office fashion cropped pantsShop Summer Office Wear Under $100:

No matter the heat, there is never an excuse for exposing lingerie or too much skin when at the office. While sleeveless tops are acceptable in many office environments, racerback, tanks, spaghetti straps, halter necks and strapless tops and dresses are not appropriate, even if you attempt to cover with a cardigan. Crop tops, exposed backs, and cutouts are not for the office. Check our reflection when standing in front of a window or light source and if you’re exposing too much, consider a slip (I love this one, it doesn’t add too much warmth in the summer and works with most every piece in my wardrobe).

Ask Allie: Age-Appropriate Office Wear

I’m about start a job as summer associate in a law firm, and I’m young (24) and plus sized. I don’t really know where or how to find work clothes that are flattering, don’t age me in an unwanted way, and yet appropriate for the work place. I own two suits; both make me look dowdy and age me. I don’t want to look too young obviously, but dowdy is never a good look either. I also don’t need to wear a suit all the time, so perhaps that might be a solution, but for times when I do need to wear a suit, I don’t have any good options. Do you have any advice?

Two women, same age and figure can purchase the same black pantsuit from Ann Taylor. On one, it looks smart and chic; on the other it looks dowdy and dated. What can you do to make a suit more youthful, stylish, and contemporary?

Get it Tailored
You can’t imagine how much a good tailoring can do to a suit. Just having the sleeves and legs the right length will make you look thinner, more stylish, and also more professional. Having a piece fit at the shoulders, nip in at the right place at the small of your back, and not gape at the waist or pull at the hips is an amazing and powerful piece in your wardrobe. Tailoring will also make a cheaper suit look more expensive. Tailoring of a suit isn’t cheap, but a quality suit should last you many years and a custom fit is worth the investment. If you’re between sizes, go up a size and have a tailor or seamstress fit it perfectly for you.

Be Choosy with your Shoes
While a sensible flat with a rounded toe will be comfortable and appropriate, it will up the frumpy factor in a heartbeat. Shoes are a way to remain professional but show your style and make a suit more age-appropriate. I personally like pointed-toe low pumps because they elongate my frame, look cute peeking out of trousers, also work with skirts, and look trendy yet also classic. While a black or tan pump is versatile, consider pushing the boundaries as far as your dress code will allow – snakeskin and croco embossed leather, leopard print, a pop of color, an interesting detail or embellishment.

In the office, it’s better to have fewer pairs of shoes that are quality and well cared for, than many cheap and overly trendy styles. Once you know a brand and style that fits well, check sites like or eBay for more in a different color or fabric. Take your shoes regularly to the cobbler to replace missing heel caps, resole each season, and to stretch snagged leather on heels. Polish your shoes – it’s quite easy and something you can do while watching TV one evening.

Incorporate Color
A colored blouse or shell can transform a simple pantsuit. Emerald green silk blouse, shell pink cashmere tee, coral cotton button-front, mint chiffon ruffled top. To look more youthful, consider blouses and shells in hot-now shades – yellow, mint, emerald, anything on the Pantone Color Report for the season. Some colors can age – dark red, deep teal, forest green – if not in a contemporary silhouette. Lighter and brighter will add fun yet still remain appropriate.

As with colors, certain accessories can age a young woman. In general, steer clear of classic pearls and scarves. However, trendy necklace styles and a skinny belt in a fun color or print can add a youthful touch to your work wear. Look at sites like Stella & Dot, BaubleBar, and JewelMint for jewelry trends, and J. Crew for ideas on how to incorporate accessories into careerwear.

Break Up Your Suits
Pair your black blazer with your ivory trousers, your pinstriped jacket with a solid-colored pencil skirt.  This way you still look as though you mean business, but the look isn’t quite as stuffy.

What to Wear When Not Wearing a Suit:

  • Shirtdresses – From crisp cotton to silk, such styles look great at the office with a simple pair of pumps. Make sure the hemline is close to the knee, the buttons don’t gape or pull at the bust, and steer clear of very casual fabrics like seersucker and chambray.
  • Wrap dresses – Created by Diane von Furstenburg just for the career woman, the wrap dress is figure-flattering, professional, and available at most any pricepoint. I am fond of matte jersey, which is a seasonless fabric, doesn’t cling, and can dress up and down with ease. With most figures, a strategically placed safety pin or a camisole in a more refined fabric will make the neckline more appropriate for the office.
  • Twinsets – One of the best inventions for offices, where it can be sweltering hot outside and freezing in an air-conditioned workplace. Having the shell and sweater of the same color and fabric is dressier and looks more luxe. Pair with pencil or gathered skirts, or with cropped or traditional trousers. The shell can be worn under a suit, the cardigan over dresses. Buy the highest quality you can, baby it (lingerie bags, drying flat, spot cleaning instead of laundering regularly) to keep it from getting faded, stretched, or pilled.  Add interest with a cluster of brooches or put a skinny belt over the shell (and under the cardigan).

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Ask Allie: Career Wear on a Budget

I am a young professional without a “mentor” or any experience in the professional world other than the two years at my current job. I am getting a new boss in January and she is beautiful, powerful, and extremely sharp. I am the girl with the hot pink iPhone case, the ubiquitous plastic venti coffee cup, wearing Teva sandals with my work outfits, trying to pass black jeans as “dress pants,” and still wearing the same bangle bracelets that I had in high school. I desperately need an upgrade in… everything… but I’m broke.

Are there any suggestions that you can make about taking my college student wardrobe and upping my game while still being able to feed my family?

You are not alone. It’s hard to be new and rise the corporate ladder without going into debt. You come into the workforce already with student loans and then have to shell out a lot just to look as though you want the job you fought hard to get. Jobs are hard to get, so you want to show that you care and have the drive but you don’t have the money to build a professional wardrobe from scratch. A few tips:

Thrift It. I know from your email that you’re already hitting Goodwill, but it can be frustrating to weed though racks and racks of faded knit tees in hopes of finding one decent pencil skirt or blazer. Make it a weekly date – find out when they stock the floors and visit that day. Befriend the folks working there – it may just get you a new friend, or it may get you friends who will see pieces and hold them for you or give you a heads up when they are stocking the floor.

While there, consider going up a size or two. A thrifted pair of pants can easily be altered by the nearby dry cleaner, and the price for both is still going to be cheaper than a new pair of pants on the sale rack.

Join Freecycle. My local Freecycle often has people giving away large bags of clothing in a certain size. People who have lost or gained weight, passed away, retired. While a good portion of the bag’s contents may be wrong for you, you could end up with a real gem in the process. And that which doesn’t work, re-Freecycle or donate. Once you have established yourself on your local Freecycle as a person who gives as well as takes (great way to clean out the house of old toys, knick knacks, and that dusty treadmill in your basement), you can request certain things. I did this once and was amazed with the generous people who replied with items or suggestions on how to get what I needed for less or free.

Find Local Swaps and Consignments. Twice a year, my community has a swap where people bring old baby clothing and equipment and trade for that which they need. It has grown to where this swap often has adult clothing. Local fashion blogging communities will often host or know of swaps where for a small price or a bag of clothes to donate, you can attend and pick up some amazing scores. Consignment sales are another place to find thrift-store priced clothing but a more carefully curated collection. At such events, you can also network with other frugal shoppers.

Nothing in your community? Set one up! It can be anything from a happy hour at your home with a few friends and neighbors, or you can set something up at a local community center.

A sample capsule wardrobe of simple pieces: how you can create over 20 different business casual outfits from just eight pieces of clothing.  Every outfit works with black pumps or flats.

Buy Simple. Simple blue oxford, gray pencil skirt, black blazer, plum cardigan, black pants… pieces like these can be mixed and matched a hundred ways to create completely different ensembles. Don’t buy difficult silhouettes that only go with one piece – create a bit of a uniform with few silhouettes so they are more versatile and less memorable.

Prints and bold colors are memorable; stick to neutrals and soft hues until you can afford a larger wardrobe.

Make a Priority List. What holes are in your wardrobe? Focus on those first. Don’t worry that this season is about oxblood or that a pair of leopard shoes would update your look. Get those basics you need to not be naked or in inappropriate fashion at the office. While I usually encourage buying accessories to switch up basics, at this point I’d say save your money. It’s better to go without any accessories at all than to try to make do with cheap pieces or spend your budget on a bracelet.

Unless you find one for an incredible price and it’s gorgeous, focus more on separates than dresses. Separates can mix and match for more outfits, and can better be tailored to fit (or made to look tailored with belts, Stitch Witchery, and strategically placed safety pins).

When you buy, stop and think what in your wardrobe can it work with. If you can’t imagine three outfits, don’t buy it. Even if it’s only $3 or only $5, that’s $3 or $5 you could save for the right wardrobe addition.

Know No One is Keeping Track. It’s okay to wear the same black pants two or three times in a week as long as they are clean. It’s okay to wear the same shoes every day until you can afford more. You can even carry off the same shirt multiple times in one week – one day on its own tucked in to a skirt, another day untucked under a sweater with pants. As long as the pieces are clean, in good condition, and properly pressed no one is going to care. The effect is far more important than the individual pieces.

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Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe for Business Travel

I loved your SAHM capsule – any chance of you doing something similar for the Road Warrior? I have worked with the concept but still am missing a few pieces that I can’t for the life of me figure out what they are.

I got a new job in November that will have me traveling quite a bit this spring. I will visit client sites, and will be away from home for up to three weeks at a time. I haven’t had to travel for work before more than a couple days or a conference and have no clue how to do this. My coworker is a man and he says he keeps his suitcase always packed and ready to go, how does a woman make three weeks of professional clothing fit in one carry on suitcase? HELP!

In my past career lives, I did travel for business. While I was never away for more than a week, I often saw the same clients multiple times in a month, and often only had a week between trips before I was again on the road. It may seem daunting to look professional and pack smart, but it is possible. These days professional attire is found with Lycra, spandex, and fabric blends that make it comfortable and travel-friendly. Matte jersey, stretch wool, ponte knit, crepe, and gabardine can be your friend when you are a road warrior. I made a sample capsule wardrobe based upon my experiences with business travel. Only the suit in this capsule is high-maintenance fabric; pack wrapped in dry cleaning bags to prevent wrinkles, hang up as soon as you arrive and it should be okay for the big presentation. The rest are work-appropriate separates that all have some sort of stretch to keep them looking great right off the plane or train or out of the suitcase.

Over 30 outfits with only 14 garments (details):


Lots of ponte separates. I’m a ponte addict, I can’t deny it. Heavyweight knit that works year-round, doesn’t wrinkle, and can be machine washed. Pretty spectacular. On top of that, it looks refined enough for the workplace. In this capsule I have black ponte pants, an ivory ponte blazer, black ponte dress, black ponte top, and gray ponte skirt. Since they are the same fabric, they mix and match with ease and the combinations looks more like ensembles. Ponte is also great when you have to fly or take the train and immediately head to a business meeting – you won’t be full of wrinkles and will be comfortable sitting for long spans of time.

Strategic pops of color. While it seems smart to pack an entire suitcase of neutrals, that can look pretty boring pretty quickly. Choosing suit shells and soft jackets or cardigans in colors will stretch your neutral capsule further. Mix two for a bold look, or just have one piece to give a neutral you already wore a new life. The choice of color is dependant on your personal style and profession. For more conservative fields, consider softer or more traditional hues; if you’re in a creative field you can amp up the color and even add more to the capsule.

Stick to solids. While prints can break up a wardrobe monotony, they are also so incredibly memorable that you can’t easily wear the same print twice with a client. If you are in a more casual or creative field, you can consider a print like leopard for some accessories, but having solids for your Road Warrior wardrobe means you can likely wear the same garment twice in a week without a client being the wiser.

Choose pieces that can dress up and down. While you may be meeting with clients and needing a professional wardrobe, not every moment of your day is suit-worthy. Maybe you’re meeting colleagues for happy hour, or your client is taking you to a baseball game. Be ready without having to stuff a suitcase with a casual wardrobe. A striped tee with a flattering neckline and fabric can be dressed up under a suit jacket, or paired with jeans and flats for a barbecue or sporting event. Pair the jeans with the cardigan for a casual meal, or with the ivory blazer (maybe tuck a band tee shirt or simple tank into your suitcase) or just a sweater shell with pashmina or statement necklace for drinks at a neighborhood bar.

As for dressing up, a ponte or crepe dress can work for the office or for a cocktail party. The black dress I featured could work with a blazer or cardigan by day and with red lips and mascara will make it perfect for an evening affair. Use the pashmina as an evening wrap.

Pack smart accessories. While I am all for having a large accessory collection for changing the look of wardrobe staples, when you’re a Road Warrior you need to keep your wardrobe to a minimum and keep it super easy. A statement necklace that isn’t too sparkly or too arts and crafty can jazz up a classic suit, or dress up a work dress to look cocktail appropriate. A pashmina can be your travel blanket on the plane, add interest to a simple dress or ensemble, be your evening wrap for a cocktail party, and ward off chill in overly air-conditioned office buildings. If you know you will be there longer, consider wearing tall boots on the trip for they will give a completely different look to skirts, dresses, jeans and narrow pants. Finally, choose a structured and polished bag to be your purse, your carryon bag, as well as your work tote. Find one that can hold both your laptop as well as a bottle of water and copy of InStyle for the flight.

Pack repair and care supplies. Stitch Witchery, a small sewing kit, bar of Ivory soap or a small bottle of laundry detergent, Shout Wipes or Tide-to-Go pen, safety pins, a black Sharpie (covers snags in tights and fabric, tears in leather, etc.), lint remover. When I used to travel on business, I had my toiletries kit already packed and ready to go with mini versions of all my beauty products, and I also had an emergency outfit kit in a small bag with these essentials. Both stayed in my suitcase when I was home, only removed to replace that which ran out. This way, I never forgot them and was already ready for any situation (or any stain). Most hotels have a shine cloth for shoes and an iron to get out wrinkles and fuse Stitch Witchery.

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Ask Allie: Office Beauty

I am about to start my first internship in D.C. this fall and can’t wait. I was wondering if you have any recommendations for subtle office-appropriate lipstick? Preferably something by Revlon or an inexpensive brand. I love wearing red lipstick but don’t want to look too crazy in the office. Thank you!

Red lipstick doesn’t necessarily look crazy if you do it right. I love Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters for they provide sheer color that you can layer for strong pigment – one swipe of Cherry Tart is cheery without stopping traffic; add a few more layers for drinks after work. I also like matte reds for the office – they may have the pop of color but don’t have the added shine to really call attention to your face – Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains are a great budget-friendly option that can let you wear color without the color wearing you.

For at least the first week though, I would steer clear of a bold lip. Get a feel for your office culture. Choosing a brownish pink is a wise choice – something similar to your natural lip color yet a bit darker or more intense. A shade that has mauve, dusty, or natural in it is a good choice. CoverGirl Continuous Lipcolor is a great budget-friendly lipstick that will last through your morning cup of coffee without drying out your lips; Iced Mauve and It’s Your Mauve are great choices for women with fair to medium complexions that are neutral to cool in tone.

Finally, I am a big fan of Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balms and now own four different colors. Rose is a sheer red that is playful yet office-appropriate, Red Dahlia is more of a sheer wine, Hibiscus is a sheer candy pink, Tiger Lily is a warm neutral that looks fantastic with a hint of a tan.

You often wear very bold makeup at work. I can’t imagine smokey eye or magenta lips in my office yet you do it and from what I assume you have a managerial position at your company. Is such makeup now acceptable in the workplace?

Each office environment is different. I work in a very relaxed environment where people are free to show their personal style as long as it is within the dress code guidelines. I also work in a position where I don’t meet with clients every day and only interact with my teammates.

Before you decide whether to wear a smoky eye or bold lip in your office, take a look around. Are there any colleagues who wear bold fashion? How are they perceived by upper management? Do they get the respect they deserve?

While I may wear a smoky eye once in a while and this winter did rock quite a few bright lipstick colors, I keep most of my “fun” makeup for after hours. No sparkle or shimmer, no intense or bold eye colors, no false lashes, nothing overly trendy. While my workplace may not blink at hot pink lip gloss, a peer company with a similar clientele may freak out over navy eyeliner. Respect your office, your position with the company and the position you desire to have in the future before going bold with your office beauty.

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Office Attire Essentials

Whether you work in finance or fashion, physics or a philanthropy, there are some basic needs for a corporate wardrobe. Maybe you will speak at a conference, possibly you will be interviewing for a new position, possibly you are traveling on business. Below are the top six things I have learned over the years in different fields, to be the items necessary for a completely polished, professional wardrobe. These items are the pieces I see women most often NOT own and by not owning it usually diminishes their professional appearance.

1. A Suit. Seriously, you should own a suit. While a crisp shirt and trousers or a simple dress will work for most work events, there is always that situation where you wished you had a suit. Possibly you’re being interviewed on TV, or maybe you’re speaking at a conference. Maybe you’re chosen to give clients a tour of the facility, or you’re having your headshot taken for the company website. Murphy’s Law, if you don’t own a suit a situation will arise where one is necessary.

Skirt suits are no longer a necessity, and they leave you wondering about appropriate footwear, if hosiery is necessary, and the proper length or need for a slip. I deal with conservative government clients and find none of them blink at a woman in a pantsuit. If you choose black, it’s extremely versatile, slimming, seasonless, and less likely to look dated in a couple of years. Buy quality – a cheap suit looks cheap from a mile away. No need for designer, you can find sale suiting quite easily at chain retailers like Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor, and J. Crew.

2. A Simple Leather Tote Bag. This item is the inspiration for this post. The other morning I was walking past the Mayflower Hotel and I saw a woman leading a group of individuals, most likely from the hotel to a place for breakfast. It was all men in gray and navy suits looking confused, and this woman, on a cell phone, looking extremely competent and in control. Sleek bob, a black skirt suit with cobalt blouse, expensive black pumps… and a canvas and lemon yellow patent leather tote bag with a stain on it.

In 2001 when I changed jobs, I treated myself to a black leather tote from J. Crew. It was on sale for $99 and I questioned the idea behind spending so much for something I didn’t necessarily need. In the past decade, I have used this tote on numerous occasions – for interviews, to carry my laptop to business meetings and conferences, as my carry-on for day flights to client sites. It’s sleek, structured, free of logos and embellishments, and some of the best money I have spent.

It’s better to buy a lesser-known brand free of a logo than a big fancy It Bag with logoed fabric or a big brass plaque on the front. Visible logos are never professional, and interest in certain designers change from year to year. Have it structured so it can hold your laptop in a sleeve, keep your resume from getting creased, and sit on its own on a table or the floor. Have at least once zippered compartment for small essentials and keep it clean and conditioned so it looks great now and five years from now.

3. Black Pumps. No more than a 3” heel, slightly pointed or almond toe, no visible decorations, no platforms or peeptoes or wedge heels. Smooth leather, no fancy finishes. Have them comfortable, classic, sleek. Polish them regularly and take them to the cobbler each season to be reheeled, resoled, and to have nicks on the heels covered. Wear with everything from cocktail dresses to trousers with twinsets. Buy wisely, and be willing to spend more than $50. If you care for them, these shoes will last you for many years of stylish professional wear.

4. Black Commuter Flats. there’s nothing worse than seeing a professional woman in a fabulously-tailored power suit, dashing across K Street in a pair of dirty TOMS or puffy sneakers. Not only that, there will be times when you will need to leave your office and walk to another location, give a tour of the campus, hoof it from one end of an airport to the other to catch your connecting flight. Be prepared with comfortable, broken-in but not beaten-down commuter shoes that have a closed toe and can be tucked in your tote and slipped on in a second. As with the pumps, polish them often and keep them looking clean and fresh.

5. A Simple Phone Cover/iPad Case/Laptop Skin. So you’ve been given a big break at work, the woman upstairs has asked you to lead the presentation. You head to the boardroom in your sleek black suit and power pumps, set your black structured tote on the table and whip out your hot pink laptop with band stickers all over it. Or maybe you attend a conference and end up at a table with some power players in your field, you go to tweet the event on your iPhone with a Swarvoski crystal-encrusted cover. The point is, having a fun or fancy cover for your technology destroys any credibility.

I love my iPhone and I take it everywhere. I love me some leopard print and was tempted to get a cover of that print. But then I realized that while I use my iPhone to Instagram my outfits and friends at events, I also use it to handle business for my day job. So I use a matte black cover from Incipio that protects, doesn’t slide off tables, and is subtle and professional.

Go ahead and have the Hello Kitty iPad case, but have a simple one on standby for those times when it’s important to look polished and professional.

6. A Nice Pen. It doesn’t have to be a Montblanc, but it looks impressive to whip out a nice-quality pen when you have to jot something down or loan one to a colleague. Luckily my company has really nice hematite ones with the logo etched into the side; at my old job I had a Cross which I carried in my work tote. You wouldn’t believe how many times people commented on the pen in a positive way.


The rest? It can vary from profession to profession. Some offices are more conservative, some more laid-back. Needs depend on your industry, your location on this planet, and your position with the company. However these six simple things can take your good work look and make it great. Having such pieces in your wardrobe already means less stress and scrambling when you get that opportunity to lead, impress, or represent your company.

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Dressing for Respect in the Office

At my job, we share our bathroom with all the other companies on our floor. Today I stepped in and was surrounded by what looked to be several interns or new hires. How did I know this? Purely by how they were dressed or their beauty choices. I know I wrote about this recently, but I’d like to address this in a different manner – I’d like to talk about how to dress to gain respect or a sense of authority when you’re a newbie.

Maybe you’re fresh out of college or an intern, maybe you’re a seasoned vet in your field but changed companies. Possibly you have recently been promoted and work with and manage a whole new team of virtual strangers. Whatever it is, do realize how you look at the office will affect how you will be perceived. It is possible to look professional, credible, and still stylish no matter your age, budget, or position in the office.


  • Cover your Lingerie. Wear a skin-colored bra under light colored tops, wear high enough necklines that your bra won’t show when you bend over to plug in your laptop, wear a thong or seamless underwear so you don’t have visible panty lines, watch the rise of pants and the width of necklines to ensure you don’t flash a bra strap or whale tail.
  • Stand in front of a window. Check to see the transparency of clothing when in natural light. Often, we get dressed in semi-darkness early in the morning and once we get to the office, we find our skirt leaves nothing to the imagination or a coworker can see the bow detail on the center of the bra. Check the opacity of all clothing by standing in front of natural light and checking out your reflection.
  • Sit in your outfit. Before you leave your home, sit in your outfit. Do your shirt buttons gape open flashing your bra or belly button? Does your skirt crease after only 30 seconds in a chair? Does your shirt ride up, exposing your lower back? Know these things before you leave the house and potentially embarrass yourself at the office.
  • Buy quality, not quantity. That $15 Forever21 pencil skirt LOOKS like a $15 Forever21 pencil skirt, especially when in a sea of suiting from department stores and higher-end retailers. It’s better to have one black skirt than a dozen cheap polyester-blend ones from bargain shops. Same goes for cheap versions of work tops that pull at the shoulders, are made of obviously low-quality fabric, are ill-fitting or too trendy of a style.
  • A suit doesn’t equal authority. Many people feel that to look like an authority, they should wear a suit. The opposite is often true for if you aren’t comfortable in a suit, it will show. Also, a suit is harder to wear at a lower pricepoint. If your dress code allows, consider instead wearing a sheath with a cardigan or a button-front shirt with a straight skirt or trousers for an equally polished ensemble that will make you more comfortable.


  • Wear comfortable and well-maintained shoes. They say a man’s style is judged by his shoes, well women’s style is as well! Nothing ruins a look more than scuffed shoes with the heels worn down and Band-Aids all over your ankles to deal with cuts and blisters. Break them in before you go to work, and take them to the cobbler regularly to keep them in the best condition.
  • Buy a simple bag. You’re wearing a classic gray suit from J. Crew, a pair of simple black Cole Haan pumps, and then you are carrying a turquoise crackle leather knock-off version of a Balenciaga. A cheap or overly trendy bag will destroy any credibility. No need to spend a ton, a simple bag with minimal details in black, gray, brown, or tan will get the job done and can be found at most any pricepoint. Look for structure instead of hobo, and a bag that is large enough to carry a notepad or file folders; a bag that can also carry your laptop can do double-duty for offsite meetings and business trips.
  • Buy quality, not quantity. Again, Forever21 is rarely the place to purchase office jewelry. Those fishing-line necklaces with strategically-placed plastic beads look as cheap as they cost at Target, and youthful accessories like rope or jelly bracelets, neon faux jewels, and feather earrings destroy any workplace credibility. This also holds true for shoes – it’s better to wear the same two pairs of simple shoes each day than have a closet full of cheap brands that cause you to hobble down the hallway or make you look as though you’re hitting the club after work.


  • Cut your hair. I’m not saying you can’t have long hair, but waist-length beachy waves that get scraggly at the ends is not professional. When I entered the bathroom this morning, this was the first cue that these women were new – they all had long manes of tangled waves that look great on the beach but not in the office. While I too would love a lush head of hair, I know it’s not a good look for Corporate America. Keeping it around your shoulder blades or higher, and having layers or bangs to give it an actual style will make you look more professional. If you wish to keep the length, consider topknots, ponytails, and twists that can manage the hair without you looking like Lady Godiva.
  • Color your hair. If you color your hair, get it touched up on a regular basis. If you can’t afford the time or money to maintain your highlights, get a single-process color that matches your natural shade. When you let your haircolor lapse, it makes you look disorganized and as though you don’t have attention to detail – not good traits for an office worker.
  • Have a polished face. I am not saying all need to wear makeup, but if you don’t wear makeup you need to make a concerted effort to have your skin look fresh and well-taken care of. Exfoliate, hydrate, consider a product like Vitamin C that will even and brighten the skin. Wear sunscreen to keep your skin looking young and elastic. If you are okay with the idea of makeup, a little tinted moisturizer, concealer, and mascara can go a long way.
  • Tone down the trends. I discussed this in this other post but it bears repeating. When you’re trying to create an aura of authority, a neon lip or colored mascara isn’t a wise choice.
  • Just tone all of it down. This isn’t a Miss America pageant, it is an office. Heavy makeup looks even more garish under fluorescent lights, and it won’t help you look experienced or credible. Dark colors, intense blush, heavy foundation – none of these give a professional look in the office.

General Tips:

  • It’s better to buy too large and have it altered for a custom fit than to purchase too small and have it pull at the hips or shoulders.
  • QUALITY NOT QUANTITY! No one is keeping score and tracking how often you wear your black pants or tan pumps. It’s better to have fewer pieces of quality, well-fitting garments than a multitude of cheap pieces that make you look as though you don’t care about your appearance.
  • Watch your length – too short skirts and pants dragging on the ground make you look unprofessional. A dry cleaner can do a simple pant or skirt hem for a few dollars.
  • Safety pins are your friends – you can pin shirts together between buttons, pin shirts to the inside of your pants or skirt to keep them from sliding out of the waistband each time you sit, and are great to have in your bag or desk in case of a fallen hem or busted seam.
  • Your iron is your friend. No matter the price or fit, a shirt that looks as though it was yanked off the floor of your bedroom will kill your credibility. If you don’t like to iron, take your shirts to the cleaners or just choose another type of garment for the office. Throwing a shirt in the dryer for a few minutes is NOT a replacement for the iron, and even though your shirt may get creased en route to the office, it will never look as bad as a shirt that was never originally ironed.
  • Solids are less memorable and usually look more expensive than a print. If you’re low on funds, stick to solids for more versatility and the ability to make a simple dress or blouse look classic and sophisticated.

For more tips on workplace attire please visit:

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Ask Allie: Office-appropriate Jeans

Hi Allie, I am not sure what jeans I can wear to work. Dress code is business casual and jeans are acceptable but no specifics. Do you have a primer on jeans for work?

I will use my current and previous places of work as a guide – they all had business casual dress codes, but did offer details on what was acceptable and what was not:

I feel that if regular pants (chinos, trousers) were in the same condition, would they be work appropriate.  I’d hope you wouldn’t wear skin-tight, shiny, paint-splattered, torn, or frayed pants to the office and such denim is also not appropriate in most office settings.  Though distressed denim has come back in fashion, that doesn’t make them suddenly work-appropriate.  Office dress codes aren’t dictated by what is on the pages of your glossy fashion magazine. 

Each workplace is different, but if you’re contacting me it is because you are unsure.  I always feel it is better to dress up too much than too little.  When it comes to denim, you can’t dress up too much.  Crisp, saturated color, straight lines, silhouettes that don’t cling – good rule of thumb for office denim and any office trousers.

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Ask Allie: Summer Office Attire

Do you already have an article on work clothes for suffocating summers? Am already dreading summer in the South.

I wrote about office-appropriate sandals here, and casual polished summer clothes here, but I have never addressed how to dress in a professional manner come summer. Not only is the heat difficult, but you also have to deal with frigid overly air-conditioned offices. Here’s what I do to beat the heat while still looking appropriate at the office:

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Seems so simple… because it is! No need to tuck in a shirt, no lined trousers, and a silhouette that doesn’t cling to the majority of your body. A dress can let you go sans sleeves on your trip to the office, then easily cover up (if necessary due to dress code or air conditioning) with a cardigan you had tucked in your bag.

Not all dresses are created equal – some can be of heavy synthetic fabric lined with more synthetic fabric, and others can end up looking like a crumpled paper bag by noon. Even others would be perfect at a backyard barbeque, but are completely inappropriate in the workplace.

Cotton Dresses. Cotton is a natural choice – it’s breathable, it doesn’t cling, and will catch a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. However, cotton can be sheer, can wrinkle and can easily look casual. A stiffer cotton – sateen, twill, cotton with a hint of Lycra, or a high quality version will hold up better throughout the day. When it comes to cotton, I usually look for a non-fitted silhouette – a swing or a-line style, or one with a seamed bodice and fuller skirt will hold up better in the heat and humidity and won’t stick to your legs. A lining can also help with cotton looking fresh, but it will make the dress hotter. A fuller style will offset the lack of breeze to keep you cool.

Shift Dresses. Be they short sleeved or sleeveless, a shift dress is a great summer piece. While it is usually tailored to a female shape, it is looser and straighter of a cut than a sheath. A shift dress in cotton, gabardine, Ponte de Roma (ponte), or even tropical weight wool can look professional, stylish, and help you beat the heat by letting there be air between you and your clothing.

Matte Jersey Dresses. Oh matte jersey, how I love you! Matte jersey won’t cling even if you’re drenched in sweat, it doesn’t show sweat, is thick enough to not need a lining, and it dries quickly. While it is a synthetic, it doesn’t seem to be as suffocating as a traditional poly/lycra blend. A matte jersey wrap dress can look quite sophisticated even on the hottest of summer days – I had a ¾ sleeve one for years that I would wear all four seasons – it was a faux wrap that wouldn’t flip up on windy days, was black so it worked with black pumps or boots in winter or nude sandals come summer, and literally no one could see me sweat.

Be wary of jersey knit dresses – they can cling to your body, leaving little to the imagination by time you hike it in the heat from parking lot or bus stop to the office. Even if you think you look professional in your home, a bit of heat and humidity can make a simple jersey dress quite scandalous.

Maxi dresses are hard to make work in many office environments – I have only done it a handful of times and each time I felt a bit too casual or flamboyant. Such dresses are best kept to those who work in a creative field.

Just because you pair a sundress with a cardigan or put a tank top or tee shirt underneath, it doesn’t mean it’s work appropriate. This means tissue-weight flippy floral cotton styles from Forever 21 and Old Navy, dresses with spaghetti or halter straps, strapless frocks, bodycon dresses, or anything that would look best with sand between your toes and a Pina Colada in your hand.

Pants are a given no matter the time of year or occasion, however many office-appropriate pants are downright torture on a hot summer day. Lining plus pockets plus heavy fabrics can mean feeling like a suffocated soggy mess by time you reach your office. There are some styles that will look professional yet still help you beat the heat.

Cropped Pants. These aren’t the cropped pants of a few years ago – this season’s cropped pants are stylish, sleek, and office appropriate. Crisp fabrics, straight lines, chic with pumps or delicate sandals, cropped pants can replace your heavy suiting trousers once the temperature rises. I have these cropped pants from Halogen that are a cotton twill that hold their shape through sitting and humidity, and come in rich colors that will give your wardrobe staples have a new life. They aren’t lined, which helps with the heat, but they still look crisp and professional. Wear pants like these with a sleeveless top and slingback peeptoes, slip on a cardigan or blazer once you enter the office.

Wide-legged Pants. An office-appropriate version of a maxi skirt, the full-legged pant has made a return to the stores, and just in time for summer.

A sailor-inspired trouser in stretch cotton twill or refined denim looks great with a boatneck sweater and statement necklace; pair with a short-sleeved blazer or a twinset for a classic look.

Fluid wide-leg, or palazzo pants have returned but this time they are sleek and more sophisticated. The leg is tailored so you don’t look like a clown, and they can easily be paired with a sleeveless silky blouse and skinny belt for a professional ensemble. While white or ivory may seem like a natural choice, such colors usually need lining and can show sweat stains. A darker color will let you breathe with just one layer; prints have also returned and a subtle Ikat or textured print can look corporate with a simple blouse or shell.

Skirts are like dresses – not every skirt will be comfortable or appropriate for the office come summertime. While I love pencil skirts in the colder months, I find such a silhouette suffocating come spring and summer. It’s also uncomfortable to have a blouse tucked into a lined skirt in the heat – three layers across your midsection can get creased, sweaty, and icky pretty fast.

Come summer, I like my skirts how I like my pants – either crisp cotton, or fluid. This season has a bunch of micro-pleated skirts – be they chiffon or jersey, such a style can look professional while still feeling breezy. Pair such a skirt with a lightweight short-sleeved sweater or cotton blazer for a work-appropriate ensemble. A-line skirts are great come summer – they don’t cling to the skin and can handle a slightly heavier fabric without feeling too hot. A crisp cotton or twill a-line skirt looks office-ready with a cotton voile blouse or a lightweight sweater set.

I don’t know why everyone wears knit tees in the summer – they cling in the heat and can make you feel pretty uncomfortable. The best bet is to choose fabrics that will float away from the body without adding bulk to your frame. A blouse in tissue-weight cotton, lightweight linen, silk, or chiffon will let your body breathe while still looking professional. Such fabrics can be transparent – instead of adding layers, consider getting an underwire camisole in black, navy, or nude to wear under such blouses. Also if you choose a darker color or a print, your underpinnings are less likely to show. Many find silk to be difficult in summer because it shows sweat – tissue-weight cotton or voile is a good alternative that can still float and breathe.

I am not much of a fan of the classic sleeveless cotton button-front shirt. Rarely do shirts of this style look good on a woman’s figure – they are too stiff in the body or else cling to the frame, they rarely flatter the arm, and the neckline usually seems too severe without sleeves. There are always exceptions, but a standard sleeveless button-front shirt can quickly look like Dowdy Soccer Mom or Parks and Planning Department Employee if not the right fabric, cut, and color.

An alternative to a blouse is the shell. A shell is like a half-shift, with a similar silhouette but ending between your waistband and mid-hip. While most any sleeveless top in a store may be called a shell, such a piece is usually of a straighter cut so that you have air between you and your garment. This year, I am seeing more shells in crisp cotton or linen – just to or just past the waistband, they look great with gathered skirts, wide-leg trousers, and crisp cropped trousers. Add a scarf or bold necklace to pull the look together.

Peasant tops are a popular choice come summer since they float away from the body and are of lightweight fabrics; problem is they rarely look professional. Even out of silk, such blouses have smocking, laces, and often have embroidery or beading which can make it look costume-y in the workplace. Keep such blouses for the weekend, or at least Casual Friday.

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Ask Allie: Fashionable Conservative Office Attire

Dear Alison,
I love reading your blog because you are a working woman in DC like me but you must work in a very relaxed office. My job is very conservative, the woman all wear skirts to their knees, closed toe shoes, hose, and dark colors. I don’t know how to fit in but still look good and have style. Everywhere I look in DC women look like this with frumpy suits and boring colors but how do you look fashionable when working in a conservative field? Help!

It’s true, I work at a pretty relaxed company – while we do have a dress code, it is more relaxed than most other offices in the city. I have worked in more conservative fields and see the women you mention all over the streets of DC. The thing is, it is possible to be stylish, even fashionable while looking appropriate for your conservative workplace. A few tips:

Focus on Fit First. The reason so many women in DC look frumpy is because they purchase suiting off the rack and don’t get it tailored. Men see alterations to a suit a given – their stores usually have a tailor on site to ensure the pant and sleeve lengths are correct and everything lines up on the body nicely. However women purchase regular, tall, or petite and make do, even if their hands are hidden by hemlines and their ankle bones are exposed.

If in doubt, size up, and then find yourself a qualified seamstress or tailor to give you a custom fit. While dry cleaners can do a quick hemming of pants and dresses, take your suits to one who specializes in alterations and can ensure linings are the right length and won’t botch up the cut of the garments. Check out Yelp or your local community listserv, or ask a coworker who always seems put together – the best tailors are usually found via word of mouth, and aren’t big enough to be able to afford fancy signage or advertising.

Suits from Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Banana Republic and Tahari 

Get Out of the Department Store. While you can find a perfectly nice navy crepe suit at Lord & Taylor, it’s likely to be a very standard and boxy silhouette and not necessarily out of the most contemporary fabric. This doesn’t mean you can’t find great suits at a department store, but you have to weed through quite a lot of misses to find a single hit.

Retailers like Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor sell conservative suits with a trendy touch. Current silhouettes, fabrics that are seen on the runway, and tiny details that won’t freak out your conservative coworkers but will add a bit of fashion to your ensemble. I find that the prices are usually equal, especially if you stalk sale racks and get on their mailing lists so you’re notified about sales and special events.

Put Your best Foot Forward. Yesterday I was on the Metro surrounded by five young women who worked together. They all were in shades of navy, black, gray, and taupe – loose suits, a pair of trousers with a cardigan, a shirtdress. While their clothes were nondescript yet office appropriate, what stood out was all of them were in ballet flats.

Now those shoes could be their commuter shoes, but based upon the nice new condition of all of them, I doubt it. The thing is, while a ballet flat is a closed-toe leather shoe, it’s not appropriate office footwear, and it will frump up any conservative ensemble you are wearing. Ballet flats make a foot look very small and round, which is the worst with a boxy suit. A heel really does a great job of balancing out a suit or blazer on top – it elongates the legs, changes your posture, and makes a suit automatically look more chic. If you find a pair of pumps uncomfortable, even a slight wedge or wide heel will better balance the figure and make your look more cohesive.

Since your ensemble is pretty nondescript, it’s very important to put thought into your shoes. Office footwear should be regularly polished, heel caps replaced as soon as they wear down, leather scuffs repaired, soles replaced once they start wearing or peeling. It’s also important to purchase quality footwear – no shiny pleather sandals from Payless or clunky microfiber pumps from a decade prior.

A simple pump with an almond or pointed toe is classic an elegant – black is a safe bet with everything (including navy) but colors like gray, taupe, sand, burgundy, and camel can still look conservative while adding a bit of interest to your ensemble. Cap toes and spectators are back en vogue and a trend that can look quite work-appropriate and conservative. A shoe with a tassel, leather fringe, or bow detail is still classic and conservative without being boring. A finish like croco or snakeskin can also add a level of interest without being over the top.

It’s In the Details. It’s amazing how a very small detail or accessory can completely transform an ensemble. Switching out monochromatic buttons for horn or metal, having the jacket lapel in a different fabric, adding a skinny belt over your jacket or at the waist of your skirt, a monochromatic tuxedo stripe in a contrast fabric down the side of your skirt or trouser… these subtle details can have major impact.

While statement necklaces and arm parties may not be acceptable in your workplace, that doesn’t mean you can’t accessorize. A brooch on your lapel, a scarf tucked into your collar, a pop of color with a skinny belt, a brushed gold or tortoise shell chain, a tank watch… such pieces won’t attract a ton of attention but will add your personality to your look.

Small Touches of Color. A blush patent skinny belt with an ivory blouse and gray pantsuit, an orchid silk shell with an olive jacket, Dark green croco-embossed pumps peeking out from under tweed trousers, a French blue button-front shirt under a navy skirt suit… such pops of color aren’t shocking but will break up the sea of neutrals.

Consider the Non-suit Suit. While some workplaces want only suits, many others desire business professional, which means more than just blazers and matching skirts. As I mentioned in this article, look to television for inspiration. Newscasters and morning news show hosts were business attire with a fashionable twist. A blouse with a bow neckline is more interesting yet just as classic as a button-front shirt, and can jazz up a pair of trousers or a pencil skirt. The cardigan has become the blazer alternative, either on its own, as part of a twinset, or belted a la Michelle Obama. A blazer in a color different from your skirt or pants can make big impact – a black blazer with gray pants and a pastel shell is chic while still conservative, a cream blazer with tweed trousers and a brown blouse Is unexpected yet office appropriate. A blazer can also make a dress work-appropriate – a blazer with a belted sheath is figure-flattering and classic, a jacket can also toughen up an otherwise soft frock. However before attempting any of these non-suit suits, check with HR or your company’s dress code.

Do you work in a conservative office environment? How to you stick to dress code while maintaining style?

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Ask Allie: Dressy Track Pants for the Office?

I bought a pair of silky track pants. I wore them out with a camisole and heels but I’m wondering how I can wear them work for work, I work in a business casual office.

Someone recently commented (sorry could NOT find, if you’re the one who did it let me know so I can give you credit and link appropriately) that if a garment uses an outdoor or athletic term for its description, it’s not appropriate for the office. In general, I agree with this rule. No yoga pants, no hoodies; such garments are fab but not for the workplace. However, track pants have received quite a makeover the past few seasons and are now available at most any retailer in luxe fabrics, cool prints, and are expected to be styled in a dressy and luxe manner.

I love a silky or crepe track pant with heeled sandals and a camisole or drapey tank for cocktails with girl friends. Add a blazer and switch the sandals for heeled booties for a cooler temperature version. Dress them down with gladiator sandals and a ribbed cotton tank or leather booties and a biker jacket come fall. It’s wonderful that current pant trends are comfortable after years of skinny jeans and leggings, and how they can dress up and be a comfortable alternative to skirts. It’s also a great way to break away from black trousers and bring some color or print to a wardrobe.

Does this mean I think everyone should incorporate track pants into their workweek wardrobe? Nope. They are still a very relaxed style that may look chic from the front, but the whole effect (especially the back view) isn’t terribly professional. However, if you work in a creative field or casual office track pants may be completely acceptable and no one will bat an eye at your pajama bum or athletic-inspired pants.

Track Pants Style for Office Work Dress Code
shop similar: pants | vest | camisole | necklace | shoes

With this look, you can keep your cool during the sweltering summer without looking half undressed. A sleeveless blazer or vest is a popular trend this summer, and its length covers much of the rear reducing the track pant look. Having a continuous color from blouse to shoe adds a level of professionalism; a simple pendant necklace adds a needed touch of personality and shine to keep it from looking too uniform.

Track Pants Style for Office Work Dress Code
shop similar: pants | shirt | necklace | watch | shoes

This look takes advantage of the silk fabric of the dressed-up track pants to create an ensemble that relaxed luxe. Half-tuck a silk shirt in a traditional cut to downplay the track pant look but give an effortlessly cool vibe. Bold gold accessories and pointed toe nude heels add polish and make it clear these are not your pajamas.

Track Pants Style for Office Work Dress Code
shop similar: pants | jacket | tank | necklace | shoes

Pairing drapey trousers with an equally drapey jacket makes the pants look more purposeful and the look cohesive. A silk tank in a bold color or print adds personality, a tough metal necklace and bold leather booties give a rocker vibe but are still creative office appropriate.

When considering slouchy or track pants for the office, it’s important to consider fabric. Jersey and gauze fabrics are far too casual; check fabrics in bright light to ensure opacity. A crepe or silky material is your best choice. Also note details; track pants with knit ribbed ankles and waistband cancel out any formality of the main fabric. A track pant with a standard, non-elasticized ankle will look more office appropriate, as will one without a drawstring. Though these pants are called track pants, if they look too much like their athletic sibling, they shouldn’t be considered for the 9-5.

Ask Allie: Denim-based Office Capsule Wardrobe

I really like the capsule wardrobe posts that you have been doing. Would you consider doing one for a jeans work environment? Our company recently switched policies to allow casual dress everyday, as long as the jeans are dressier.

My last three places of employment have allowed jeans as long as they were dressed up. This post I wrote about work-appropriate denim is a great start in figuring out which jeans are considered business casual, and which are best left for weekends and evenings. For a denim-based capsule wardrobe, I recommend at least three different silhouettes and washes. For this capsule, I chose a dark wash of a traditional cut (straight, bootcut, etc.), a denim trouser which is a bit more refined and usually has a wider leg, and then a novelty piece. Depending on your personal style, it could be a subtle brocade print, corduroy, velour, or even a dark color like oxblood, black, or olive green. With all your work jeans, narrow and slim is acceptable with longer tops but skin tight is never appropriate.

Twenty Possible Combinations:

The best way to make jeans versatile is to have a variety of footwear. Narrow jeans look drastically different with flats than they do tucked into tall boots. Since you wrote in your email that you recently had a baby, I chose shoes that are more comfortable – a low-heeled boot, flat with arch support (I actually own these very flats from Ecco and find them extremely comfortable and cute), a wedge which is easier to wear than a standard heel.

Accessories can really transform an outfit – a tunic sweater is slouchy cool alone, streamlined when cinched with a wide belt. Thinking of my own wardrobe, I added a patterned skinny belt and a statement-making wide belt because I find these two types of belts to be the most versatile and best at transforming wardrobe staples. Scarves give denim a chic vibe – a patterned silk scarf with anything from a tank and cardigan to a striped tee makes a look instantly sophisticated, a lightweight pashmina adds interest and is a makeshift shawl in drafty offices.

Also since you said you recently had a baby, I chose fabrics and silhouettes that have stretch, are comfortable, and can look polished without being super fitted and structured. These pieces will also work if you lose any weight in the next couple of months – you can tuck in, belt, and adjust as your body changes. I stuck with solid colors because they are more versatile and less memorable. I used a lot of neutrals with pops of extreme brights, which always look so great next to denim.

When wearing jeans, it’s more important to think about what is on top. While one could carry off a simple knit top with pants or a skirt, with jeans such a top could easily veer into cleaning-out-the-garage territory. Soft-structured jackets, sweater coats, and cardigans help make jeans look polished as well as making more narrow silhouettes office-appropriate. All of these pieces would easily work with pants and skirts as well if there are days where you need to dress up for a visit from corporate or clients.

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Ask Allie: Summer Office Attire with Sleeves

I just wish that more dresses came with sleeves, any kind of sleeves. It’s annoying trying to find the perfect cardigan or jacket to wear on top. And fully bare arms are a no-no in my workplace.

I hate my arms and it seems every summer dress is sleeveless. I need ideas for work dresses with sleeves.

My job’s dress code says sleeves are mandatory, even if it’s 100 degrees outside. I keep a black cardigan on my chair year-round but would love some suggestions on how to make outfits for summer that have sleeves. Thanks Allie!

Do short sleeved blazers exist? I am in sales and wish I had suits for the summer. I travel a lot and it’s not comfortable being in and out of cars and planes and trains in a heavy suit, but don’t want to interact with my clients in just the tank under my suit jacket.

While at my office I can get away with sleeveless dresses and tops for summer, that doesn’t mean I want to all the time, especially when I am meeting with clients. While at first glance it may seem that all summer apparel is sleeveless and bare, there are some really great options out there that are professional yet stylish and far more comfortable for the warmer months.

Short-sleeved Blazers
They DO exist, and they can be quite stylish and on-trend.

The safari look always seems to be en vogue and each season I have been able to find short-sleeved safari and cargo jackets. This belted safari jacket from The Limited would look with either trousers or a pencil skirt for the office, but could also be dressed down with jeans or white Bermudas for the weekend. This elbow-sleeve linen jacket from White House Black Market is lightweight and would look polished with a skirt or pair of wider-leg trousers.

As for classically-styled blazers, they do come in shorter sleeves. Again, The Limited is a place to go for budget-summer blazers – this gray short-sleeve blazer makes a matched suit with their coordinating pants or skirt yet would be equally chic with white or even brightly-colored trousers; their Shawl Collar Jacket can also be made a suit with coordinating pants or skirts, and would look lovely with a softly pleated skirt or pair of cropped trousers in a cheerful hue. Heads up – right now The Limited is having a sale on many of their suiting separates!

Short-sleeved matched suits are often available this time of year, and a great way to get more bang for your buck while stressing less on coordinating separates. When I think of stylish yet wallet-friendly suiting, Tahari immediately comes to mind. This belted skirt suit from Tahari via Bluefly is professional without being dowdy; the jacket would also be quite smart with white or black pants or even a red skirt or pair of cropped trousers. This gray Tahari suit via Dillard’s is more conservative but doesn’t lack feminine detailing.

Short-Sleeved Dresses
These are also available, though they may not be the piece featured on the front page of the retailer’s website or the mannequin in the front window. Retailers think people want sleeveless for hot weather, and will feature such pieces in front, but will have sleeves for the corporate customers and the many who do not wish to show off their arms all summer long.

Short-sleeved shift dresses are classic, chic, and don’t cling in humidity. This colorblock shift from Joan Vass is elegant and professional – wear as –is with navy or nude pumps for a more conservative look, or get bold with a third color in statement necklace and pumps. This simple pink shift by Hugo is a classic style in an unexpected hue – wear with solid pumps for a classic look, or bring current trends into your ensemble with printed platform pumps or a statement necklace in a popular summer shade like neon yellow. This loose shift dress from Goat would look classic with simple pumps and a strand of pearls, or can look on-trend with wedge peeptoes and a bold necklace in tortoiseshell or even mint green.

Shirtdresses are a great way to look professional yet keep your cool on the most muggy of summer days. This stretch silk Ikat-printed shirtdress from Classiques Entier is stylish yet professional – pair with simple black pumps, or pump up the fashion by wearing nude heels and switching out the belt for a skinny patent one in a neon hue. While this chambray shirtdress from Lands’ End may be too conservative for some workplaces, pairing it with a wide black leather belt and black pumps will make it a great choice for business casual settings. This hot pink silk number from Calvin Klein looks great on its own or can be jazzed up with a belt in a neutral or a contrasting color.

Wrap dresses will forever be one of my favorite wardrobe pieces – versatile and oh so figure flattering! This modal wrap dress from Lands’ End is simple, elegant, and comfortable on hot summer days. This cobalt silk blend wrap dress from Milly is elegant and professional, will make a statement on its own or can be paired with a bold necklace for more impact. I love the bold print on this matte jersey dress from Issa – no need for fancy accessories, the print is its own accessory!

These are just a few options I found when perusing my favorite online retailers, but really there are a ton of options out there if you get past the front-door displays.  For details on the outfits and dresses in the photos, please click on the photo to go to the Polyvore set.  Happy shopping!

Note: There is nothing wrong with putting a cardigan over a dress, and this can be a very stylish option.  However, I believe all of you can do that, this post is to give you some ideas on short-sleeved work clothing that goes beyond the cardigan.

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Friday: Office Pajamas

Top: JANA c/o Gwynnie Bee | Leggings: Rubbish | Boots: Ros Hommerson | Necklace: eBay | Bracelets: Nordstrom (similar) | Earrings: Nordstrom | Lipstick: Revlon Moon Drops in “Orange Flip”

Some days don’t you just wish you could go to work in your pajamas? I can’t believe it, but I’m adopting a trend I wore back in high school – tunic sweaters with leggings. I know, leggings aren’t pants, but this top is long enough to justify it, and loose enough that it would just look dumpy with regular trousers. Thanks goodness for Gwynnie Bee, my latest box arrived when I was past due for laundry day. I love the bright colors, the fun shape, and yes, that this top is as comfy as pajamas!  As a reminder, if you’re interested in Gwynnie Bee, click this link and mention Wardrobe Oxygen for a trial month!

Still learning how to style this hair. I know it’s not drastically different from previous cuts, but I think it’s the difference between having your hair cut by any person and being cut by someone who knows your hair, your lifestyle, your personality. This morning my goal was to let the hair be wavy/curly with a bit straighter bangs. It just looked like a frizzy, messy hot mess, as though I just washed and went. So I brought out the flat iron. Since I had product for waves already in it, it created this messy piecey look which I like since I always like to pretend I am a rock star. A mistake gone good, and a new way to style this ‘do!

I do get a commission on each person who signs up for Gwynnie Bee and mentions me, but I have chosen to partner with this brand because they totally rock, offer a great service, and honestly care about their customers.

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Ask Allie – Fighting That Office Chill

Do you have any suggestions about working in a freezing office and looking professional? Right now I’m wearing a heavy hoodie on top of a cardigan…and unless I have to go to a meeting, that’s how it will be all day. I was thinking about a long sweater, but they vary widely…are they ever ok?

Before I got pregnant and now LIKE having the office as an ice box, I was so feeling your pain. Offices seem to always be too cold or too warm and you always need to have some layers handy so you don’t get hypothermia while sitting in front of your computer.

I have a pashmina at the office just for this purpose. I love it because it is lightweight, but since it is cashmere it keeps me just as warm as a heavier item. Being a shawl I can adjust where I need it – around the neck if I am wearing a v-neck top, over the shoulders, or even over the lap and legs when wearing a skirt. It also is small enough to tuck into my laptop bag if I am going to a client site that may be just as frigid.

Sweater coats can be quite nice and professional looking. I have one I bought years ago at The Limited that is calf-length, a sturdy black cotton knit, mandarin collar and buttons just to the waistband. My old job used to call me Trinity when I wore it for it had a bit of a “Matrix” look to it. It is a thick enough knit to look smooth over lightweight knits and sweaters, and the refined knit and modern silhouette makes it even appropriate when I leave my office and venture down a hall to greet a client.

The key to sweater coats is the weight (not super thin and not a chunky lumpy cable), and the silhouette (more like a jacket than a bathrobe).

A lightweight sweater will look lumpy and strained over your other layers, a heavy cable or textured weave will look more like grandpa’s favorite than a stylish and professional garment. Wrap styles with a self-belt seem the easiest, but often times are the least flattering to a woman’s frame. They add the majority of bulk at the torso and hide the curves of a feminine frame. Many wrap styles also hit near the bottom of the rear end, making the back view look bigger than it really is. Your best bet is to find a cardigan that hits at the hips, or mid-thigh so it is long enough to show your shape.

Black front-tie cardigan from Old Navy, maroon high-collar sweater coat from Lands End, red ribbed shawl cardigan from Banana Republic, charcoal marled cardigan from Calvin Klein Jeans.

Office Maven by Weekday, Wedding Coordinator by Weekend

While wedding planning, I met a lot of women on The Knot. I frequented the message boards for my city, asking for opinions on caterers and bridal salons. Through this I met the women on a message board I used to be a part of and I even created a messag ebaord exclusively for planning and past brides of the site I got married at.

One of the women on the latter of the two boards became a professional wedding coordinator and on occassion needs assistance at weddings. She hires me out. Today I had one at the mansion both she and I were married at.

This wedding today was a day wedding. I wanted to wear a pair of full leg winter white trousers with some beige silk heeled sandals and my cute beaded top, but the coordiantor said that she usually has her team dress in all black and suits.

Um. it was 95 degrees today and 100% humidity. A suit??? But what the boss lady wants, she gets.

I dress in my black Triacetate suit from Ann Taylor. It’s a full leg trouser and a tailored jacket. Under, I wear a bacl matte jersey shell I bought at The Limited back in oh… possibly 1999. It has a slight drape neck and boat neck. So flattering, and has held up so beautifully washing after washing. I wore a strad of black pearls that my sister gave me for Christmas this past year, and the black leather thing heels fromt he night before (these are MAGIC SHOES! I can wear them all day without any foot pain!).

Makeup was subtle – dewy face, mild gloss, nude shadow, hint of liner and lots of mascara. Hair was curly (showered but didn’t wash the hair for a fun beachy curl look that maintains even when sweating).

The jacket was never worn. I hung it in the mansion’s coat closet. It was a million degrees outside, a thousand inside. Running around lighting votives, cleaning up spills, getting the mother of the bride coffee can really make you hot and sweaty! Those that think wedding coordiantion is glamorous should try it. Ha! I get filthy. I sweat my ass off. My feet hurt. My clothes are scuffed (someone has to lie on the patio and drop the gardenias just so in the fountain!), my makeup smeared, my hair eitther limp and damp or a rat’s nest. I am having people snap their fingers for my attention, bitch to me about things out of my control, ask impossible requests and get pissed when I cannot deliver. Mothers freak out, fathers get power hungry and wallet protective. Brides get amnesia, grooms get drunk to squelch their nervousness. Bridesmaids get pissy, groomsmen disappear somewhere to smoke a cigarette. All of this happens right before something like posed photos, cake cutting or the first dance.

This wedding wasn’t bad. She was a women from the message board I created. Sort of bridezilla in planning, but come the day of her wedding, she was calm, understanding and looked beautiful. Her family and wedding party were so nice and cooperative. The guests were pleasant. Almost all her vendors were professional and easy to manage (let’s jsut forget about the DJ). And hey, I left with a nice check from the head coordinator and it was only 4pm! Time to party!

Spring has Sprung in my Closet

Spring has sprung here in DC! Hooray for bare legs, packing up the hats and mittens, and being able to expose elbows and toes! With each change of season, there’s usually a change of wardrobe. I’ve found that closet organization has been good physical therapy for me; the pinching of clips to hang skirts, holding the weight of a full hanger, folding scarves and jeans. With my arm, this process has been extremely slow, but that time is great for really thinking about what is in my closet, what I really need, and what I really need to remove from my collection.

The trends this spring and summer are so refreshing; after seasons of bright and bold, fitted and funky there’s a move to subtleness, quality, detail, and drape. I saw it on the runways, I see it in the stores, and I feel it in my heart. I started gravitating toward simpler pieces and colors in 2013, but desire it even more in 2014, especially after my broken arm. After six weeks predominately in loungewear, I crave dressing, but simple, easy, yet elegant dressing. Here’s a peek into my Spring/Summer mindset:

For clothing, it’s not terribly different from the past, but now it feels more cohesive. I’m liking (1) midi-length skirts, but somehow they look more right on me when part of a dress. I have pretty much this same dress; last summer’s LOFT collection, and know it will get a ton more wear this year. (2) White feels really right this year, even before Memorial Day. I’ve been wearing white jeans, boyfriend jeans, and pants quite a lot already (if you’re new to white outside of summer, start simple by pairing it with black). Each season I end up having a signature color without even thinking about it and based upon my closet, this season it’s (3) orange-red.  I type this while wearing a linen sweatshirt of this color, and desire a shift dress like the one pictured.  I’m really digging classic trousers this spring, paired with everything, from blouses to sweaters to tee shirts; I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair in (4) navy.  I’m loving how there’s a trend towards draping and purposeful slouchiness this season and have been gobbling up things that are (5) off the shoulder; I’d pair a top like this with slim white jeans.  I also like the trend of purposeful draping, a top like this (6) can be worn with jeans for a night out, or slipped under a suit for the workweek.  I’m always happy when weathered, worn, and distressed denim (7) are on trend; they please my inner Lita Ford and love the contrast with more classic pieces.  And it wouldn’t be my wardrobe if it doesn’t have a few striped shirts (8) in it!

For accessories, I’m craving fewer pieces, fewer necklaces, and again am drawn to orange-red accents.  Thinking about my faves, I saw they are sort of lumped into three categories:

  • Vacation Inspired: I love white Panama hats and fedoras, I know they’ve been in style for a while and may be less trendy but I think they’re quite classic and these days I’m doing all I can to protect myself from the sun.  I love them with jeans and striped tees, I love them with sundresses, and I love that they hide bad hair days!  I’m also loving my new Converse Shorelines, which make Chucks finally comfortable for me.  With the elasticized back and lower profile, they’re comfy and easy to slip on and off.  Aviators are always my favorite, as are scarves.  Now that bandanas are back in style, I’ve been pulling out my collection of them and square scarves and using them to jazz up simple knits.
  • Bold Silver:  This is nothing new, silver is my signature metal and I’ve been wearing my big sterling cuff for 17 years.  Now I’ve added a pair of silver Birkenstocks to my wardrobe, increasing my silver.  I love mixing shiny silver with a more relaxed material; the bracelets from Lifetherapy are a fave of mine.  I have several of them and love looping one of their wrap bracelets (especially in this season’s signature color of orange!) over the cuff to switch it up.
  • Classic Gold: When my arm was in a cast, I relied on a watch since pulling out my phone was more difficult.  I’ve come to really like the convenience and style, and adore my Citizen Ciena Eco-Drive.  I recently got this cuff from Rebecca Minkoff which is smaller than what I’ve been known to wear and I like it.  Again, been wearing a lot of square scarves, be they around my throat, tied in my hair, or hanging off my purse.  I got a pair of Nine West “Flax” pumps in Natural and they’re a great nude pump, a comfortable height and go with almost my entire wardrobe.

My makeup has also been influenced by my time with a cast; it’s hard to have precision with your non-dominant hand. While I spent much of the winter with bold lips and liquid liner, lately I’m more into a subtle smoky eye, bronzer over blush, and glossy lips in a more natural hue. Miracle Skin Transformer has become my go-to while dealing with a broken arm since it’s so easy and so many beauty products in one.  I’m a mascara junkie and I love Too Faced’s Better Than False Lashes enough to buy a second time. It’s not a product to use when you’re short on time, but they do make my lashes look lusher than any other brand.  I got the Urban Decay lipliner in Naked as a freebie with a order and I use it almost daily with a natural colored gloss (adoring NARS Viva).  And then the original Naked palette from Urban Decay is still a fave for a no-makeup makeup look, a soft smoky eye, or to even replace liner.

Has spring sprung in your closet?  What are you loving this season in regard to trends or new to you classics?

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Random Weekend Ramblings from a Near-Empty Office, Two Days Before Christmas

Saturday was Emerson’s ‘Watch Me Dance’ class, the class they have at the end of each session where they put chairs in the studio and we can watch and take pictures instead of sneaking peeks through the blinds of the window in the lobby. My life has been so hectic, I thought the previous week was this class and my mom, her boyfriend, my sister and Karl all arrived to a normal class. Let’s just call that a dress rehearsal! So Saturday was the ACTUAL class, and Emerson was fantastic. Not fantastic in a Dance Moms/my child is my cash cow sort of way, but fantastic in how she listened, she followed, and she has developed and grown as a person and a dancer since last session. A few weeks ago, I was hearing her teacher call her name quite often, and it wasn’t because she was the star of the class. Emerson likes to be liked, and she likes to make people laugh. She was making faces as classmates and being goofy, disrupting class and not following direction. We had a talk, and the next class was better, but not by much. So we didn’t go to Starbucks for our usual post-class Girl Date. And she was told if the next class is bad, no more Starbucks and no more dance class. Since then, she has really buckled down and been a great student. She even told me class is more fun when she listens. So the Watch Me Dance class was awesome, because I could clearly see her listening, processing, absorbing, and trying to improve as a dancer not just to please me or her teacher but herself.

 After we went to a local diner (her choice) for lunch and she had pancakes. Because pancakes are always the answer, no matter the time of day.

The weather Saturday was insane – in the high 60s and sunny. Karl and Emerson went for a run and playground time, I headed to Dollar Tree for wrapping paper and tape. With no one home, I grabbed a cold beer, stripped off my jeans, turned the music up loud and got to work in the middle of our bedroom, wrapping the Christmas presents. I got almost all of them wrapped before they got home, and said I was on the phone with Santa to explain why she couldn’t come in our room right away.

Saturday night, Karl went to a friend’s holiday party and I stayed home with Emerson. And LOVED IT. I got in bed with a can of beer and finished a book, I continued my pants-free fashion and ate a hot dog on a fork like a lollipop and drank water from a Kleen Kanteen with a bendy straw and sat on the floor and watched SNL while rubbing Cindy’s belly with my foot. Sometimes being home semi-alone is far better than any fancy fete. I was still up when Karl got home so I got to finish the day with his witty storytelling about the party.

Sunday, my sister held Girl Brunch. Four of us friends adore one another and have such a good time together, but we have been too busy to hang. Debbie scheduled this far enough in advance that we could all make sure to attend. My sister has such great style and it shows in her home; she recently painted her living/dining room a beautiful gray which gives a completely different feel from her previously turquoise-painted walls, and had a gorgeous couch she found at the Salvation Army reupholstered in a luxe leopard-print fabric.

Not only does she have great style, but she’s also a great cook. We had a bacon, egg, and cheese tart, the most amazing hashbrowns, homemade cinnamon rolls and mimosas. We chatted, we drank mimosas and coffee, we watched a bit of SNL together (with Jimmy Fallon and JT it was worth seeing twice), we bonded, we caught up, we spent most of the day together and it was delightful. After, I came home and our friend Tiffany followed to say hi to K and E. Our friend Mike was over, so the four of us enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather out on the deck, listening to music. At 5:15 Emerson decided it was time for bed, though we’re usually fighting to go upstairs at 7:45. So I took her up, and we took the time to put all her babies to bed and have some play time and a second book.

When Em was finally asleep I checked my phone and saw I won a Freecycle score. I saw someone list three wooden dining chairs. We bought a big table earlier this year and haven’t bought chairs because I dream of a table full of mismatched wood chairs just like my semi-grandparents had when I was growing up. We have two great chairs with good histories; a few months ago we saw four chairs out for the trash and took them and they’re not bad but they need the seats reupholstered and two of them are super rickety. It’s harder to find single wood chairs at thrift stores than you would think, so every few months I put out a WANTED on Freecycle, search yard sales, and hope for the best. We’re hosting Christmas Day and I’d like to not have anyone on a chair that’s ready to fall apart so this score came at a great time. I went out to my car and came across my sister who was coming by for dinner. We had invited her, but forgot to tell her we ended up eating early because Emerson wasn’t the only one who was ready to retire early. So Debbie went with me to get my chairs, which was good because she’s far better at playing Car Tetris than I. The chairs are nice, sort of Colonial style that was hot in the ‘80s, Ethan Allen and in good condition. We carried the chairs in and put one on either side of the table, one on an end. Sat down the third one and it was wobbly. I flipped it over to see if a leg was loose and realized that the bottom of the legs had been sawed off. All three had been sawed off, and it seems only an inch at most. They’re still a comfortable height and look good, but it left me wondering the rest of the evening as to why they did this.

Was the table lower than standard? Were the chairs used for a kid’s table? Did the family have short legs? Were the chairs not from a dining set but maybe used as the desk chairs for three children? Has this one chair been wobbly since Day 1, or did a leg get loose from moving them out to the front porch for pickup? One thing I love about Freecycle is thinking of the stories behind pieces, why they are being given away, and why these people chose Freecycle instead of donation or Craigslist. I figure the leg sawing and the case of only being three, not four chairs is why they were Freecycled, but now I want to know the story behind why the chairs were sawed and how they were used!

Today I’m in the office, but this is the last day of actual work until the New Year. I’m still tethered to my iPhone, but I plan to get into StayCay mode. I’m actually already there; there’s fewer than 10 people in the office today and I am in distressed denim and Chucks with a flannel tied around my waist. If I can, I plan to leave a bit early and hit a thrift store… maybe I’ll find another chair to finish my dining table in time for Christmas!

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Shop My Closet – On Poshmark!

WardrobeOxygen on PoshmarkI’ve been saying for a while that I needed to get off my tuchus and sell all the clothes I don’t currently wear. While I may clean out my closet I do have a dirty secret… I have bins and bags full of clothes in my attic (and there were a couple full contractor bags in my home office). I regularly donate career wear to a charity and have Freecycled and donated all my maternity clothes and clothes that are in “well loved” condition, but the nicer stuff I’ve been holding on to.

No more. All this clothing is doing no one favors being boxed and bagged up in my attic. A couple weekends ago, my best friend came over and for eight hours we dug through three bags. All pieces were photographed, packed up, labeled, and ready to ship. While I have used eBay and a Shop My Closet blog in the past, this time I decided to use Poshmark. My friend Alyson has raved about it for a long time and many of you have told me you use it with great success. It seemed simpler than eBay too.

For the past two weeks I have been using Poshmark and I have become as big of a fan as my friend Alyson! It’s an app-based program; while you can visit Poshmark on your computer, to buy and sell you need to do it on your phone. As a seller, I think this makes the process uber easy – my pictures are already on my phone so I can easily upload them, write a quick description, and even answer questions and negotiate counteroffers. I’ve found the customers to be more… reasonable than on eBay. You’re not usually expected to offer 5,000 measurements for a $6 LOFT tee, people are super friendly and quick to share and comment, and while I have had a couple ridiculous counter offers (no, I will not sell that NWT original retail still in the store $250 item for $15), in general it has been a friendly and painless experience.

Tips for Selling on Poshmark by Wardrobe OxygenA couple of you saw on social media that I was on Poshmark and have joined to buy and sell. If you’re interested, if you use this link and code PMZYS you’ll get $5 off your first order and I too will receive a $5 credit (find me, I am wardrobeoxygen).  There’s no auction or bidding, you can counter-offer and some sellers (myself included) offer  “bundling” where you can purchase multiple pieces from a seller at one time and save on shipping ($4.99/order).  If you’re interested in selling on Poshmark, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Be Honest.  Like other selling sites, Poshmark has a rating system.  Buyers can give you up to five stars for orders.  It’s not worth it to ruin your reputation by trying to pass off replicas, lie about the condition of a garment, or its original price.
  • Provide Details.  Is it an XL but fits more like a L?  How did you style it?  If you recall the original style name or number or even color name, include it.  While Poshmark won’t let you write a novel, you can offer quite a lot of information.  The more details you provide, the more likely the item will sell and the more likely the buyer will get what she expected and leave you a favorable rating.
  • Take Good Photos.  I use my iPhone 6s and take the pictures in natural light near a window.  For Christmas I got this dress form; it’s not high quality (in fact I cracked the base the day my friend and I were on a Poshmark selling spree and it’s now held together with packing tape) but it gives a better idea of how an item will fit than lying a sweater on your bed or floor.  If you have a photo of you wearing the item, include that too.  I also search the internet for stock photos of the item.  A mix of all three is a great way to get an item sold.  Poshmark lets you upload four photos per item with the first photo being your cover photo.  I’ve found the most successful cover photos are those with me wearing the piece.  If you don’t have a photographer taking your picture in items for a blog, a mirror selfie in a well-lit room is still good (and you can cut off your head in the photo if you wish to be anonymous).
  • Stock Up on Free Priority Mailers.  Your post office has Priority Mail Tyvek envelopes and boxes for free; these are perfect for shipping out your orders.  Included in the cut Poshmark takes from your sales (20%, or $2.95 if the item sells for $5 or less) is a shipping label.  When you make a sale, Poshmark emails you this Priority Mail label.  You can order shipping bags and boxes from for free but know it takes up to two weeks to receive your order.  If you have a post office nearby, grab a few to get your sales going.
  • Take Care with your Sales.  I fold nicely, wrap in tissue, tie with a bit of curling ribbon, and carefully slip into the box or bag.  I got a pack of cheap tissue paper; you only need 1-2 pieces per order.  The curling ribbon I purchased when I attended a baby shower where all presents were to be wrapped in blue.  That yet-to-be-born baby is now 5 and as you see in the photo above, there’s still plenty left even though every shower and birthday present since the shower had turquoise ribbon on it.  I bought some rolls of packing tape, and because I’m a dork like that, ordered some cheapy business cards from VistaPrint (this is a referral link that will give you $10 off your first order) that thank the buyer for her order, have my name and my Poshmark address on them.  The overall cost is minimal, but it makes the experience much nicer for the recipient.
  • Raise Your Rates.  Poshmarkers LOVE to counter-offer.  Consider this when making your prices.  It’s worth it to up the price a few dollars to be ready for a counter-offer (if you accept a counter-offer the item sells immediately to that individual).  Also, if you have stagnant items that don’t want to sell, you can then lower the price without too much heartache.  A plus to lowering the rate is anyone who “liked” the piece will end up receiving reduced shipping.
  • Be Quick with Communication.  If someone asks for additional details or makes a counter-offer, be polite and reply within 24 hours.  Since Poshmark is on your phone, it’s easy to quickly type in a response and move on with your day.
  • Follow the Rules.  Don’t accept sales through PayPal or offline.  Don’t try to sell used makeup or clutter Poshmark with items they don’t allow to be sold on their app (home goods, electronics, health and wellness products, used underwear and makeup).  Don’t label something a blouse when in fact it’s one of those belly wrap things that spam social media.  And don’t call something Chanel-esque or like Louis Vuitton – that’s a trademark violation and such names can only be used if the item is legitimately from that brand.
  • Be Part of the Community.  Share other people’s sales (I only share that which I actually like), follow other accounts, leave comments and reply to comments.  Poshmark is very social, and by being part of the community you’ll get a larger audience to see your closet, resulting in faster and more sales!

Are you on Poshmark?  I’d love to hear your experiences and feel free to share your closet in the comments!