Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working Girl

I'm back!  Last week I was MIA doing a bit of business travel, and packing for my trip, I realized that my professional wardrobe is in desperate need of a serious overhaul.  Most of my work staples are from the pre-baby era, as I skated through last fall and winter on a shameless combination of maternity pants (I said, I have no shame) and long cardigans, and have been telecommuting blissfully in my Red Sox shorts and J.Crew Favorite Tanks and/or yoga pants and old race t-shirts ever since (it is a hot look, I tell you, HOT).

I've eked back into my pre-baby stuff this season, but most pieces seem a bit old and tired and not the right style for, oh, somebody's mom.  As discussed previously, I know what my fantasy casual wardrobe looks like (trouser jeans, fun cardi, soft tanks, bohemian/simple jewelry), but I am utterly lost when it comes to a professional look, especially since, for the last five years, I've been working in a pretty casual environment.  I need HELP and I am officially coming to you, readers, since I happen to know that ya'll are a pretty stylin' bunch.

Here are my parameters:
1) Pieces must be (very) budget-friendly, but still of decent quality (I hear my grandma's voice in my head saying it is better to buy one great, durable piece than five less expensive ones of poorer quality).
2) A stable of interchangeable basics is a must, but hopefully with a little flair here and there so I don't end up looking like I fell right out of a cookie-cutter catalog.
3) I am 5'2", have no discernable waist (seriously, my bod goes boobs-->hips, with nary an inch or two between) and tend to like to wear stuff that is forgiving in that area.  I wish I could wear monster high-heels, but it just isn't me, most of my shoes have a very low, 1.5 inch or less heel.  I am too accident-prone to go higher.
4) Most days, I interact quite a bit with a certain fellow who is prone to getting drool, jam, peanut butter and assorted other substances on anything that crosses his path.  Even if I am out the door for a day of professionalism sans him, I need to run his gauntlet of kisses and hugs first, and I wouldn't have it any other way... this means light colors and pricey dry-clean-only fabrics are largely a no go during this era (right?).

Tell me, all you business ladies (and gents) and savvy shoppers out there, what are your go-to pieces for looking good and feeling good on the job?    
Here are some professional looks I love...
This is my friend and life-and-style icon Bronwyn.  She runs her own business, has two gorgeous girls and generally keeps a multitude of balls in the air, obvs looking and feeling fantastic doing it.  I love the sass and versatility of her work look, her flawless hair and the great necklace. Love you, Brown!
Also really loving this fall look from Banana, with the wide-leg trousers, cute blouse and classic trench.  I still don't own a "grown-up" coat and am wondering if a trench is the way to go.  Part of me still feels like I'd just be playing dress up, although I love the look.  Also love the hat and bag, although I feel that I look like a cat burglar in almost any hat I wear.

And frankly, dear readers, I went looking for other looks I love to share and couldn't find a one, and therein lies my problem; building a professional wardrobe is really a bit of a foreign concept to me.  I'm not sure where to look beyond J.Crew, and what to look for beyond my go-to chinos and cardis.  
I'd love to know what you wear when you dress to impress.  Show me the light...


  1. I have always loved Ann Taylor & her Loft (hehe) Honestly, if you watch enough, you can snag some pretty stellar sale items. And even if you don't go the sale route, there are some items that are so versatile that the price in my mind, is justified. I love the quality of the clothes too. And they have a petites section!

  2. When I lived in CA, I loved loved LOVED the downtown consignment shop, which carried both work & casual name brand pieces at a fraction of the original price. That sexy Guess jean jacket for under $20? - yes, please! My biggest disappointment with moving to VT was the drastic decrease in quality items at used stores - I mean, used moo-moos and carharts, really??? Clothes shopping, period, has become quite painful up here for that matter.

    Now that you are back in the city, where the more fashion conscious reside, my advice is to seek out some 2nd hand shops. Find the right one, and you could very well hit up all 4 of your parameters. Good luck!!