Navy and Neutrals

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Ann Taylor factory lace dress (similar), H&M knit blazer (similar), Crewcuts boys gingham shirt
Ferragamo Vara shoes (similar), Prada Saffiano Tote, belt borrowed from Nick's dad

Earlier this evening, I had the pleasure of hosting a local workshop on "Maximizing your Work Wardrobe." After some nervous mulling in the shower, I threw together a list of some of tips learned over the years.

One topic that we discussed was shopping for versatile pieces, including items beyond "traditional" office wear that one would love just as much on the weekends. When I was an intern, I loaded up on button-up dress shirts, trousers, and suit-style blazers. I didn't enjoy shopping for them, did not feel compelled to shell out for alterations, and almost never wore them outside of work. Although those are still the most conservative and foolproof pieces for a corporate office, I've had much more fun shopping and dressing outside of that realm.
navyandneutrals2 This outfit is comprised of various pieces collected over the years, none of which are traditional work pieces bought for work. The lace dress has worked beautifully for cocktails or a garden party; the comfy gingham shirt was guiltily plucked from the boys department; the waffle knit blazer is a fave for pairing with denim. Worn together, these pieces give off a feminine yet academic vibe that is conservative enough for my office.

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Another topic we discussed was how to change up the look of 1 item by accessorizing, layering, or unconventional styling. I immediately thought of Cee, and dedicated a slide to her "10 ways to wear a lace dress." Reading Cee's blog inspires me to experiment more with layering...for example, rather than simply wear this dress under a jacket, layering a boyish button-up shirt and worn leather belt provides both visual interest and extra warmth.
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To lessen the eyesore of two busy patterns, I used a monochromatic palette, added a block of solid with the blazer, and kept the accessories neutral.
navyandneutrals
Readers - What are some of your favorite tips for maximizing your work wardrobe?

78 comments:

  1. I would never think to do that, but it's actually really, really cute. I need to open my mind a little bit more to come up with things like this.

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  2. it looks nice. love the blue and brown :)

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  3. Gorgeous! You look lovely. I love navy and how you've styled items that aren't typical "workwear." The blazer (love) anchors the entire look.

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  4. you look very classy with the outfit. I would never thought of pairing somethign like this. so creative. Great combination!. love your blog btw.
    ps: i went to AT factory two weeks ago and surprised they had the lace dress you were wearing. larger size so I altered it and now it fit nicely..happy as a clam :)

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  5. i layer "over" dresses quite often but need to try layering "under"! love this outfit!!!

    xoxo, jenn
    the stylish housewife

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  6. You always look so put together! :) Do you dress for blog photos or you actually wear this out to work? (I am assuming you are in a professional setting?)

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    Replies
    1. I wear all of my "work outfits" on here to work, but usually don't have time to take photos on the actual day of wear. I've been putting them all on again on the weekend for blog photos, and am pretty sure my neighbors think I'm nuts : )

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  7. Such a classic look and dress, love it! We always look forward to your new posts. Have a wonderful day!
    ~L&W
    www.thedoubletakegirls.com

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  8. The gingham shirt and the lace dress is an unexpected but lovely combo! Looks nice with the blazer. Actually I spotted you last week at Ann Taylor with Nick but was a bit nervous to say hi to you, especially when you were busy shopping and talking with another gal who I think was your fan as well... I hope you have a Boston meetup sometime if you're not busy with work! Next time I hope I won't be as shy ;)

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    Replies
    1. Mika - how funny! I had no idea Ann Taylor was such a hot spot for coincidental meetings. Please do say hello next time! It's a small town so I am sure we'll cross paths again : )

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  9. You look polished and lovely as always.

    I am not a big fan of the lace dress over the gingham shirt, though; the two pieces give off very different vibes to me. The dress is more figure-hugging and feminine, while the shirt underneath is more bulky and boyish, so the sight of the tighter dress worn over the bulkier shirt came across as a little... restricting and creating awkward shapes. Additionally, both pieces contain very strong eye-catching patterns, and thus seemed to clash with each other a little too much. Just my 5 cents.

    Kudos to you for hosting the workshop; I'm quite jealous of the ladies who attended & got to hear your great tips!

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  10. I love how you styled these different pieces together. Very unexpected but refreshing. Take care.

    XOXO,
    Elle

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  11. I was at the "Work Wardrobe" event/workshop, yay!

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  12. I love your outfit. Perfect for the fall weather :)

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  13. You always look so lovely Jean! I love your blog. :)

    xo - Sheila
    www.sheislovelyblog.com

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  14. beautiful dress! love it!
    xoxo
    ewa

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  15. Wow, you look incredible. I'm at that stage in life where I'm trying to build a work-appropriate wardrobe, and this is actually really inspiring. Thanks!

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  16. I would never believe this would work, but it does! I love this outfit on you, but I am pretty sure I wouldn´t be able to pull it off :-) But it is great inspiration.

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  17. This is so cute! Love the mixed prints.

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  18. I can so relate to what your saying, I enjoy shopping so much more now that I've been purchasing pieces that I can transition from work to other. I love how you made the lace dress work appropriate. I have a few work outfits on my blog check it outfit you want to see my approach.
    Xo
    Rachelle
    Http://pinksole.com

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  19. I think the layering here is perfect!

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  20. Hey love! I was hoping you could help --- I purchased a plaid Banana Republic wool blend coat 3 years ago and the color (dye?) on the right side has worn off (faded to a whiteish color) and I'm quite upset. I believe it's due to my Longchamp bag rubbing up against it. Is there any way to fix this? I took it to the dry cleaners but no luck :((

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, unfortunately I don't have any suggested fixes. I would try google'ing faded wool and maybe try a color dye if you really want to preserve it?

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  21. You inspire me to try new stuff like this!!

    xoxoxo
    Ritcha
    http://ritchastyle.blogspot.com

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  22. I have a problem with layering..
    I'm just not comfortable enough to do that.. yet :)
    I'd love to try out this style!
    btw, thank for that link!

    kisses,
    milna89.blogspot.com
    *********************

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  23. I just love the layering, you look so beautiful!

    xo, Yi-chia

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  24. Great twist on that dress!

    Check out The Glitter Life! http://the-glitter-life.com/

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  25. That is really smart to add a long sleeve button up under that pretty lace dress! I think the layering would be too much depending on how different the textures were and if the colors didn't match so well. You pulled it off so stylishly... like you always do!

    I'm also still looking out for that gorgeous navy AT lace dress! Maybe you'll get sick of it and want to sell it later... well a girl can dream =P

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  26. This is one of my favorite outfits of yours ever! The layering of texture and print work so well because you did keep everything else minimal and neutral. I don't have any gingham or lace in my closet (what?! after I've been following you for, what, almost a year now?) but now I'm inspired to look for layering possibilities with what I already have. Oh, and I love Cee's post too!
    ~Shirley

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  27. I really like your prada and seriously consider
    it in the same color, but I'm so worry about
    it get dirty or stained since the color is light.
    Do you ever have this concern with light color
    Bag? Thanks Jean

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    Replies
    1. It's a coated leather bag so I don't imagine that the color would easily stain (but I could be wrong). Also, it's medium in color in my opinion so light color transfers definitely won't show up as much as if the color was ivory.

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  28. My dress post deserved a slide? Jean, I'm beyond flattered. Inspiration is a two-way street, so thank YOU for helping me polish up my wardrobe.

    To go with the monochromatic theme, I can also see you experimenting with your chambray shirt under the dress instead of the gingham. Still in the same color family, but a solid color won't compete with the lace pattern as much (a concern raised by the anonymous commenter above). I don't think it would be as cute as the gingham + lace sans blazer, but can see it working with the blazer.

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  29. You look so pretty. (: And I LOVE the bag!! <3

    ♥♥♥

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  30. Gingham and lace is honestly my FAVE combo!! Really pretty outfit(: You are so cute!
    xoxo, Gena
    Pearls, Curls, and Uptown Girls

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  31. one of mine is wearing different types and colors of tights ore stocking underneath skirts or dresses...

    xoxo
    Mady

    thegirlfromthemirror.blogspot.com

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  32. Love the gingham in that look! The whole thing is so cute!

    creamyclothes.blogspot.com

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  33. oh how I would have loved to be there for your discussion! I know my early career self would have flipped. Your look is so cute! I sadly don't think I can layer as well. I'm not as slim and I'm very short waisted. I find any sort of tucking just makes me look insanely top heavy.
    But the general idea of your post is one I like: looking beyond the normal when it comes to your clothing. I am packing for a trip and started seeing how many of my items can do double or triple duty, all with the right accessory and accompaning pieces.

    Your writing is really hitting a stride! You always wrote well, but lately it is just so strong.

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  34. The more pictures I scrolled through, the more I liked the layered gingham/lace look. I've seen your posts for the pieces individually and they're very different styles, so it took a bit to get used to! Very creative and it looks great.

    However, I do think the reason you pull this off so well is your petite frame. I'm rather jealous--I think this would look bulky/unflattering on my size 4, 5'6" frame. That said, I I will definitely see if I can create more work outfits by playing around with some pieces in my closet. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  35. Never would have thought to layer the gingham shirt with the lace dress. Good idea!

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  36. I have a question.. How do you keep your Saffiano bag look so structured? I have one but for some reason mine does not stay in that "boxy" shape all the time. The bottom part seems to weigh down a bit which makes it look slouchy...

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    1. I'm currently trying out a base shaper company (and will report back in a few weeks), but in the meantime I made a base shaper myself with thicker cardboard cut out of a box I had lying around. It definitely helps prevent the base from sagging.

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  37. I love how you mixed these unconventional work pieces together for such a chic but office appropriate outfit! The navy color palette is so classic, but the subtle different textures and patterns make it so interesting!

    -Erin-
    OneTwoSummer

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  38. Such an unexpected pairing and looks perfect for fall!

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  39. Great pairing as usual, Jean! Didn´t know gingham and lace would look that good. Long time reader here. :)

    http://dressingupforme.blogspot.com/

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  40. Hi there,

    I stumbled upon one of your videos on youtube and started checking out your website. I had been following Wendy on Wendy'sLookbook but I have to say I'm very impressed by your sense of fashion as well! What I love about you is that you know how to make clothes look classy without having to spend a fortune on designer brands (unlike Wendy). Keep up the good work! :)
    Celeste from Seattle

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  41. hhhmmm, i've loved all your improvisation thus far.

    but i gotta say, i do NOT like the gingham + lace look. separately i love em', just not together.

    can u show us how to mix prints? :)

    xx
    j.c.

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  42. that is such a pretty dress on you! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com/

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  43. You do such a fabulous job of doing things that I would never have thought of...and making them look so chic.
    I'm sure the attendees of the workshop must have walked out with a new found enjoyment of their work clothes ;)
    XOXO

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  44. Very, very cute! I have similar pieces but not so sure how to make it go together - especially for fall - my pieces are brighter in colour. And sadly my navy blazer got thrown into the laundry bin by mistake and is now too tight on me :(

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  45. You are so beautiful. I love your style and your way to match outfits. Just fabulous!

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  46. Hail to the queen of layering! I absolutely love this, even though when looked at separately, I would never think to put them together!

    yuni @ OBSESSED

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  47. i love this - so unexpected but so right!

    you look fantastic!

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  48. You style is immaculate! And I love that Prada handbag!

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  49. JEan:
    I guess my question related one other person here above asking how the bag keeps the structured shape. In your past video about this bag I think you mentioned something that a plastic rectangular piece can keep it in strcture shape and that this plastic can be ordered somehow? Did you do that? Can you say where and how. THanks!

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    1. I'll report back after I try out this company I'm currently emailing! But right now I've cut a cardboard box into the shape of the base and it definitely helps keep the structure.

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  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  51. Both you and Cee inspire me to think outside the box when it comes to layering. It's an area that I constantly struggle to improve in!

    Lovely look!

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  52. This is such a cute outfit, and your tips in the blog helped out a lot. Can you post more tips that you came up with for the workshop? I' just started working in a corporate setting recently and I'm looking for more ways to diversify my wardrobe from button ups and cardigans. Love your posts!

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  53. Cute outfit! I love coming to your blog.

    xoxo
    Narae

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  54. are you going to have a Halloween petite post :)?

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    Replies
    1. Haha...I didn't plan on it, but Khatu (over at iamkhatu.blogspot.com) made costumes for the two of us so I may share photos : )

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  55. What a great idea and great way to wear this dress for the colder season!

    http://shortandsweetjoy.blogspot.com/

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  56. Great outfit, Jean! While it might not always be everyone's cup of tea, I love the mix of patterns and prints and think you did it well in this outfit. It's pulled together, interesting, and fun to look at--and a reminder that I definitely need to work more navy into my own wardrobe. I think I own one navy blouse and...that's it! :|

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  57. Hi Jean!

    I love this outfit choice.

    The incorporation of lace makes it so feminine. I'm not a fan of shopping for formal wear but there are certain pieces, if well chosen, can be enhanced to fit daily life.

    Really enjoying your blog!

    ~ Tasha

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  58. Jean: Through the years I have found both you and your blog to be classy and thoughtful. You've actually inspired me to create my own site to capture my thoughts and interests in fashion and financials which perhaps you'll find interesting. http://fashformfuncfin.blogspot.com/ - curating fun facts about our favorite fashion brands, blending insight on the industry’s products with the financial and strategic developments of the companies that create them. Hope you'll take a look and would love any feedback you may have!

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    1. Thanks for sharing...will definitely take a look!

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  59. I would have never thought to pair lace with gingham. YOU are an inspiration indeed!

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  60. Hi Jean! I love the outfit! If you see this, I have a quick question. I've been looking for a navy blue gingham shirt! What size did you get for your boys gingham shirt? How does it fit? I'm a similar build as you and I could either get a XXS at JCrew or the boys gingham in a 12 or 14 (technically the girls section but the name of the shirt has boys in it). Which did you get? If you see this and have time to answer, that would be great! Thanks!

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  61. Great dress - I love the way you paired it with the gingham. I never would have thought to pair those two patterns, but it looks stunning!

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

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  62. Hi Extra Petite,

    Im such a fan of yours and I think you look fabulous all the time! I just wondered if you could help me with one thing. I remember reading about your Prada Saffiano bag & that you was looking for a second hand ones etc. the thing is I want to sell mine and would like if you could share some sites that are 100% authentic and I would not be scared to sell it on. also f you don't mind me asking how much you bought yours? so it could give me an idea for how much I could potentially sell it for. Many thanks Sanita

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  63. I really like the combination..a lot!

    Check out my blog where I posted my first fashion magazine, http://gemmamonclus.blogspot.com.es

    Love,Gemma

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  64. Hi!

    I would also like to know what size shirt you chose. I love the gingham shirt!!

    xo, Janelle

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  65. The Black Lacy tunic with the tan leather belt looks amazing. The advice offered on the blog are also quite though worthy. I like the idea about shopping outside formal work wardrobe for casual wear and weekends.
    Fashion

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