What to Wear: Work Casual for Laura

From 25 February 2011 – moved from baileyiswriting.blogspot.com

Laura asked me two weeks ago to come up with a W2W post to help spice up her work wardrobe. At work, the standard is “work casual”, which to me is really ambiguous and somewhat evil fashion phrase. For some people it can include denim, for some people it can’t.  For some people that means only collared shirts, for others it doesn’t.  It’s an interesting and confusing term to try and define a wardrobe by, so I totally get Laura’s predicament.

For today, though, I am going to make her W2W slightly more “work professional” than casual, but also maintain a level of comfort for each individual piece and for whole outfits. I’m also aging the outfits up, presenting pieces that add a little more sophistication to a wardrobe and can be worn for more professional or dressy occasions.  While casual wear is a must in wardrobes, so are professional and dressy pieces.

I’m going to create one outfit in today’s W2W and follow-up next week with a second outfit in a new W2W, both for Laura.  I am explaining each item choice, so that anyone can find a similar item from most their preferred or local brands.

Outfit #1


Ruched Neck Slub Sleeveless Top

I like this top for several reasons. The first reason is the detailing around the neckline–the ruching–which adds a small, yet professional detail.  The top is a neutral color, making it easy to match with anything, but the detail on the neckline keeps this top from being plain. The squared neckline and sleeves are also simple, but enough of a step away from the ordinary to give the top good & interesting lines.  For the professional environment, definitely layer something over this top. But, this top is also great for a fun night out with the girls, perfect for a date night, and totally appropriate for dressier family occasions.  (Item from New York & Company)


Button Cuff Flyaway Cardigan

Cardigans are the easy go-to for outerwear layers with professional looks. A cardigan is also not at all what I was looking for here, but I can’t, for the life of me, find what I am looking for. Of course, a cardigan works, but it’s such a no-brainer and so much my comfort zone (and Laura’s), I wanted to show another option for an outer layer.  While I love cardigans, I do layer with a lot of other key styles.  But, alas, none of the new lines I’m pulling from have what I have in mind. So, I’ll keep looking and share something not a cardigan next week.  All that being said, cardigans are good go-to layering pieces, but make sure to mix up your cardigan-style.  I have two cardigans similar in style to the one pictured above (one in gray, one in white, both from AE) and I absolutely love them.* The style is casual, but simple, so it pairs well over most anything. The button-cuff on the sleeves are a nice touch of detail. Then, there is this crocheted cardigan, which adds depth and will let the top show through.  Bold prints over solid camis are also a good layering trick, as is the reverse of a solid cardigan over a bold print shirt. Cropped cardigans are my preferred cardigan style because it breaks up the outfit in an unexpected way.  (Item from New York & Company)


7th Avenue Bootcut Pant

For today, I’m going to go ahead and talk about slacks. When it comes to black slacks, I pretty much live and die by New York & Company. This is probably mostly because I worked for them, but their brand fits the same as the day you buy them. I value you that in professional slacks. Now, every store has a few different cuts and styles, and my favorite from this brand in the 7th Avenue. They just brought back the original 7th Avenue cut, too, so I was happy to see that online! Never let anyone tell you all black pants are the same because they are not.  Find the few styles that work for you and love them.  Also, black fades with time so please, don’t do what I do, and do bother investing in a new pair every two years or so. And obviously, buy more than just black. I wear navy, tan, or this navy pinstriped pair of slacks way more often than black. (Item from New York & Company)


AEO Pearl Disc Necklace

Because the top has a square neck, you’ll want to go with a circular shape for the necklace. A singular pendant or something like this, where the necklace is hanging from one point.  (Item from American Eagle)

City Bright Octagon Rhinestone Necklace

Or go a little more glitz and glam with a necklace like this one, adding a bit more depth to your outfit with the accessories.  I swear by accessories, you know that. (Item from New York & Company)

Another great accessory option is the “fashion scarf”.  I believe Laura owns one now.  The scarf is a great alternative to the necklace, and can add in both color and print. They work especially well over neutral tones, and are particularly nice because they can be tied in a ton of different ways (each way making a different outfit style).