Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Need some styling advice!!! How to be corporate when your heart is casual?

This is a topic that it quite a conundrum to me!  I have a pretty big job, one that requires me to "dress up" on a constant basis. 

Yesterday was hot as blazes (again!) and I chose to wore my new capris in the navy eyelet , rococco top and featherweight cotton cardi (you can see the outfit here, sans cardigan) and little Jessica Simpson Davida sandals (I didn't really note them in the post, but they are really cute and you can order them here:

These are cute and comfortable sandals.  But I digress...

I loved this outfit, but really, it did not feel corporate or like something a boss would/should wear at all.  While I did not have any meetings outside of the building, I still felt decidedly casually dressed.  This is a real problem in the summer for me, especially.

In my job, I should normally dress like this:

Women's Ludlow jacket in Irish linen

or this:

1035 jacket in pinstripe Super 120s

I typically would dress like this in the fall/winter.  But I struggle with that look at times - it feels very uniform-y to me!  And I am not always sure I look good in a blazer...

So I wear a lot of pencil skirt/jacket, pencil skirt/cardigan combinations, but is the latter dressy enough?

See the outfit below.  Is this dressy enough?  Would you wear this if you were the boss?
Merino V-neck cardigan

Can a cardigan ever be as dressy as a blazer/jacket?

How do I "dress" up suits so I feel more comfortable in them?

So, this morning, I am trying a little harder (honestly, this taking your picture regularly has certainly helped my willpower to stay on the diet! I cannot wait until I can tuck with impunity..):

Elie Tahari Navy Linen Jacket, J Crew Naomi top, Luisa Cerrano linen skirt, franco sarto wedges

But my question is - would this have looked as polished with a cardigan?  If this was a Jackie Navy cardigan for example?  Does a jacket make me look larger or slimmer on top?

Those of you who have followed along this far know I like some flash.  But I need a uniform and I want to look polished!  All advice is greatly appreciated!!!!!!

Should a boss always wear a suit or jacket or am I being too old fashioned?

I know - I am asking a lot, but you will be throwing me the sartorial lifeline here, folks!!!


  1. I think you can look corporate enough in a cardigan but you'd need to balance that somewhere else in the outfit. If the cardigan is dark and serious, you can probably get away with more creativity on the bottom. If the cardigan is a fun color, you probably need to go more serious with a dark skirt/pants and dressier shoes. Since you need to look serious at work, maybe try to keep the flash or whimsy to one piece of the outfit and keep the rest more traditional in style and color.

    Regarding a blazer, I like it on you. If you want to mix up the look, you could cuff the sleeves or button one of the buttons. It is hard to see the shape of the blazer in this photo. You probably shouldn't go too big or boxy, I think a more shaped style suits you more.

  2. Cate - many thanks - great advice! I am cuffing my blazer even as we speak!!!!

  3. I forgot to say that I am very casual at heart like you and I don't dress up often, so you should check my advice against that of people who know better than me ! :) I always feel more like myself when I cuff my blazers or my button downs, though. Don't stray too far from being you, even if you do need to dress corporate!

  4. I really like this outfit on you! And, I agree with Cate, if you want to change the outfit up a bit you can cuff/push up the sleeves of the blazer. I LOVE the Naomi Top on you!!!

  5. Thanks Rynetta and Cate! I did cuff the blazer, which did help! I am appreciate all advice!

  6. Hi WMM, I am trying to think back about all the places I worked at and women in 'power positions'. It really didn't matter how the dressed, It is how you carry yourself and the aura of authority you create. Currently our VP of sales and operations likes to dress in a little grungy styles, some funky linen pants and jackets and very messy hair (she is I think exactly your age). She looks very approachable and at times sloppy. She likes to chat about kids in the kitchen and likes a good joke. But when she talks business she has the air of unquestionable authority, nobody would dare not to take her seriously. This is just an example but I have seen it many times in different variations.
    That said I think wearing a suit or dressing in conservative business attire definitely helps. If I was a CEO I would dress in sharply cut suits, impeccable white shirts and simple but sexy pumps and I would love it. But it does not work if it doesn't come naturally to you. Dress like yourself and act like a boss. After all, you set the rules, so I'd say own it, without apologies.
    I like your outfit with Naomi top. I think I would wear darker shoes to avoid the buttom part being in a different universe than the top. I would actually go with navy for work but dark brown closed toe would work too. If navy shoes them I would choose light brown purse. With navy shoes I think navy cardigan would be just as fine.
    Wow, I wrote a novel here, lol.

  7. AJC - that is great advice and I really like it!!!!

    I think my 3 things are about to change now for fall!!!!

    Thanks for the shoe advice -when I look again, I see it totally!

    And you are right about being the boss - I certainly "own" it in meetings. But I think the sharper suits, those basics you wrote about recently, which are beautiful, are the way to go! I bought a beautiful Judith and Charles black 4 season wool suit for the fall and I really loved it!

    Okay - I may have to do another post where I put the work "uniform" together for the fall and seek all of your collective advice again!

    As for a novel, I appreciate the good advice!!!

  8. P.s. But perhaps colour under my navy pinstripe suit???? Maybeit is a lack of underpinnings that are "me" that is holding me back!!!

  9. Color and or accessories that have your personality with your dark suits would be very nice. I agree with ajc, so much of it depends on your confidence and attitude. I've seen women in leadership wearing all the right business clothes and have no presence and women wearing something not so traditionally business-like coming across charismatic and strong. When I was much younger, I wore business suits all the time. Now that I am confident and established in my career, I am dressed casually. Of course it helps I am in a business casual environment.

    Wear what makes you stand up straight and tall and looking forward to walking across a room. Quality and fit always help.


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